The Entrepreneurs Network (TEN) established The Female Founders Forum with Barclays in early 2016. The Forum brings together some of the UK’s most successful female entrepreneurs, to address a specific problem informed by academic evidence: why too few women-led businesses reach the same economic scale as that achieved by male-led companies.
A link between the two may at first appear elusive, aside from their both demonstrating the strength and dynamism of UK entrepreneurship. But this report shows that while we are seeing more and more women at the helm of successful businesses, they face greater difficulties scaling up than male-led ventures.
The facts speak for themselves: women-led businesses achieve far lower levels of funding, with male entrepreneurs 86% more likely to be VC funded and 56% more likely to secure angel investment. Female participation in business ownership is directly associated with higher credit rejection probability.
As Head of High Growth and Entrepreneurs coverage at Barclays, I hear first-hand from UK entrepreneurs the challenges of scaling up a business. This is not limited to access to finance: founders must hire and retain the right people, decide where to deploy funds, and know when the time is right for global expansion. This report highlights a challenge that is faced not just by female entrepreneurs but by the entrepreneurial community as a whole. Nonetheless, it shows that access to funding is still a specific and persistent barrier for too many women when starting and growing their business.
“The facts speak for themselves: women-led businesses achieve far lower levels of funding.”
We launched our commitment to high-growth businesses to specifically support scale-ups and their founders, including a fund of £200m for venture debt, specialist relationship directors to support companies from start-up to scale-up to IPO, and a wide network offering unique opportunities to connect with our experts and wider client base to grow and realise their ambitions.
We are glad to have partnered with The Entrepreneurs Network to hear first-hand from some of this country’s most successful female entrepreneurs, and find practical solutions for tackling the scale-up gap. I commend this timely report, which is full of tangible, actionable recommendations. I hope policymakers, the media, the finance industry and others operating in and around the entrepreneurial sphere will give it the attention it deserves.