1 in 3 businesses globally are now owned by women – a figure that is only growing. But frustratingly, despite performing equally alongside male entrepreneurs, female-led businesses continue to receive less funding than those headed by men at every stage.
It’s why, at The WealthiHer Network we have delved into the challenges facing female entrepreneurs today and the economic potential they create.
Our fear is that without positive action, the path to recovery for female entrepreneurs is under threat… especially in a society riddled with crises after crises.
Our WealthiHer report findings highlighted the following:
- 74% of female entrepreneurs are concerned about access to vital survival funding and bias in the process.
- Government initiatives such as The UK’s Future Fund are falling short: 25% of all funding to date in 2020 went to all male entrepreneurial teams and only 1.15% to all female teams.
- Women are more than 1.8 times more likely to have lost their jobs as compared to men in the pandemic.
Furthermore, we found that 56% of men aged over 45 think gender isn’t an issue in businesses.
Unlike previous recessions, which impacted men more severely, the economic fallout of Covid disproportionately affected women, given their family and care responsibilities, plus job insecurity.
Even more alarming, women are nearly twice as likely as men to have lost their jobs or quit because of the impacts of the pandemic and 67% of women felt more stretched than ever. This is particularly so for entrepreneurs facing up to multiple challenges from business stability, to balancing their responsibilities to their teams and family.
On a positive note, though, women are showing a much higher intent than men to start their own business as a result of Covid, particularly among 25-45 year olds and female entrepreneurs are also 15% more likely than male ones in wanting to build businesses that are better for the future, and both socially and environmentally responsible.
But funding still remains the biggest barrier female entrepreneurs face and nearly three quarters are concerned about access and bias.
Just 2.3% of UK funding went to female led start-ups in 2021. Women were less likely to apply for funding and the amounts were smaller. The data on emergency funding for female entrepreneurs indicates that this gap has continued to widen.
The Government launched the Future Fund in April 2020 to combat this gap, but it is missing the mark. Out of the 700 companies that applied, 181 were from all-male teams (25.8 per cent) and just eight companies (1.15 per cent) were comprised of all female teams.
This is why I am calling for more support for businesses led by women. Female entrepreneurs provide the solutions to the problems we face in an unpredictable economy and they can – and will – deliver great returns for investors, but they lack the vital backing they need. We need to change this because women have the intent, strengths and traits that can help fuel the UK and global business recovery: collaboration, resilience, and commercial impact.
We need to arm female founders with the tools and tips on everything from start-up to scale-up, from preparing a powerful pitch to recovery business planning.
As serial entrepreneur and investor Lara Morgan says: “Women never ask for enough when pitching for business.” This has to stop, with more women making better ‘asks’, being less afraid of rejection (which is inevitable) and knowing that persistence will pay off.