No Image Available

Annie Hayes



Read more about Annie Hayes

Women entrepreneurs on the rise


Thousands of women have made the bold step of going it alone over the last year; a move that has been applauded by Industry Minister Jacqui Smith.

Speaking at the annual women’s business support network PROWESS conference today Smith said that over 130,000 women had become their own bosses since last year.

This rise in female-led start-ups has generated £130 billion for British business, she said.

Women now make up just over a quarter (26%) of all self-employed people, however, they are still the largest under represented group in terms of business enterprise, according to latest Labour Force Survey statistics.

A new toolkit for business advisers, The Case for Women’s Enterprise, is released today to tackle this and help boost the number of female entrepreneurs in the UK.

Smith commented:

“These figures are an encouraging move in the right direction, but there is still a vast wealth of untapped talent and economic opportunity among women in the UK and this is where PROWESS are really making an impact.

“Comparisons make stark reading. If women started businesses at the same rate as men the UK would have 150,000 extra new firms a year, and if the UK had the same levels of female entrepreneurship as in the US, there would be around 750,000 additional businesses in the UK.”

Smith admitted that there was much work to do in order to change the culture of Britain to ensure women have the support to start and grow their own businesses.

Progress is already being made with a government led project designed to boost the number of female entrepreneurs. The campaign includes:

  • Encouraging more role models to come forward. A lack of role models is often cited as one of the reasons too few young women start businesses.
  • The Small Business Service initiating an Action Plan to help women entrepreneurs gain access to finance. Experience shows that this is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to start-ups.
  • Initiating the Small Business Service action plan to ensure that by 2006 a fifth of all businesses will be owned by women.
  • Setting up a new women’s enterprise panel of successful female entrepreneurs to look at the options for a Women’s Business Council to champion female entrepreneurship.
  • Launching a regional tour with the leading businesswomen from across the country to accelerate the Women’s Enterprise Action Plans in each region.

Glenda Stone, CEO of Aurora, an organisation that benchmarks how companies advance women told HRZone:

“Women are becoming far more discerning about the best companies to work for. However as many organisations desperately try to improve their female-friendly cultures, women are still opting to start their own businesses because they are attracted to the idea of having greater control, flexibility and uncapped rewards.

“The downside is that business can sometimes look too easy with all the latest government campaigns and advertisements encouraging Britain to be more entrepreneurial. Aurora still sees an alarming rate of women-owned businesses fail – so the message is to diligently research the proposed business product or service and its marketplace before taking the corporate leap.”

No Image Available
Annie Hayes


Read more from Annie Hayes

Get the latest from HRZone.

Subscribe to expert insights on how to create a better workplace for both your business and its people.


Thank you.