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Government to help women start businesses

Government to help women start businesses

The government has introduced an initiative to make banks and investors provide more finance to businesswomen.

The new Code for Investing in Women aims to increase female entrepreneur numbers by 50 per cent, or about 600,000 by 2030.

The code will see banks and other financial institutions publish the gender split of the investments they make, showing if businesses are either male or female-led.

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It follows the Rose Review, commissioned by the Treasury and headed by Alison Rose, deputy CEO of NatWest, which found women faced too many barriers to setting up a business.

The review found only one in three entrepreneurs are women, a gender gap equivalent to more than one million fewer female entrepreneurs in the UK.

It found businesses run by women are on average half the size of male-led firms and far less likely to scale up to a £1m turnover.

The government said closing this gap could add an additional £250bn in value to the UK economy, equivalent to four years of economic growth.

Lloyds, UK Finance and UK Business Angels Association have already committed in principle to the Code and will be actively looking at the commitments over the coming months.

The government also plans to improve online advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and businesses, and welcomes industry-led initiatives to set up a female-focused investment fund.

Ms Rose said: "The UK has one of the most vibrant entrepreneurial communities in the world, but only one in three of our entrepreneurs is female. We need to be more ambitious and find ways to unlock the huge untapped potential.

"It is imperative that we support female entrepreneurs and capitalise on the missed opportunity, which is significant."

Prime Minister Theresa May, who hosted a reception of female entrepreneurs and business leaders in Downing Street yesterday (7 March) ahead of the review, said she was committed to real change in this area.

She said: "I want to build a country where all women can go as far as their talents and hard work can take them.

"It’s fantastic that we already have over a million women-led businesses, and the gender pay gap is at a record low, but the findings in this review show there is much further to go."

Robert Jenrick, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, added: "Today’s businesswomen face too many barriers to setting up and scaling their enterprises. This doesn’t just hold back women, but every single one of us.

"The move is part of ambitious plans to increase the number of female entrepreneurs by 50 per cent by 2030, matching leading major economies such as France, Canada and the US for gender equality."

Jazz Jhumat, financial adviser at Danestone Mortgages and Financial Services, said whilst women were slowly being more recognised in the business world, more initiatives were needed to boost the opportunities open to female entrepreneurs.