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The UK is a hot bed of entrepreneurs.

British entrepreneurs have been household names and celebrated across the globe for decades. From Branson to Dyson and the youngest ever Dragon to recently join the Den, the ‘Happy Sexy Millionaire’, Steven Bartlett.

Our competitive tax laws, business friendly regulations, talented, creative workforce and dynamic financial markets make the UK a great place to start and do business in.

Yet, despite being one of the countries considered most favourable to entrepreneurship, a recent study on the world’s entrepreneurial levels by Veuve Clicquot found the UK to be the third highest of 17 countries in the gender gap with 23% female entrepreneurs Vs 36% male entrepreneurs.

The UK has one of the largest gender gaps when it comes to entrepreneurship

But why? It’s not a lack of ambition.

The Veuve Clicquot report also found that almost half (47%) of women researched aspire to become an entrepreneur. A trend that is continuing to increase.

There are many barriers, both structural and societal, but one of the biggest ones facing female entrepreneurs remains access.

Access to funding, access to networks and access to opportunities.

Cult Beauty’s co-founder, Jessica DeLuca, recently sold her business for £275 million. In an interview with Management Today she cites access to funding as the biggest barrier still facing female entrepreneurs today.

Women-led startups received just 2.3% of VC funding in 2020*

That’s a jaw-dropping stat. Made worse by its decrease during the pandemic from an ‘all-time high’ of 2.8% in 2019!

As DeLuca explains in the article, the statistics make even less sense when we understand that women are responsible for somewhere between 70-80% of all purchasing decisions.

But if the people on the VC boards are rarely women and therefore, not an accurate representation of our global demographic and consumer purchasing decisions, then how will they be able to really understand the opportunity being pitched to them?

The figures prove time and time again that diversity is better for business.  When women do get funded, they’re more likely to be successful. An analysis by Boston Consulting Group found that women ‘ultimately deliver higher revenue – more than twice as much per dollar invested’. Making women-owned companies better investments for financial backers.

Where do we go from here?

Progress is happening but change remains slow, so what can we do?

Clearly, we need more women on VC boards, equal access to networks and opportunities in order to start to #breakthebias (there’s many!) that prevent funding from happening.

We can do this, but we need to work together – men and women.

If you’re in a position where you can, then raise your awareness and elevate women. Help identify and introduce women to funding opportunities. Raise their visibility and champion a woman so they can have access to these crucial roles.

Whilst there have been, and are, phenomenal female role models such as Anita Roddick, Vivienne Westwood, Martha Lane Fox, Karren Brady and Deborah Meaden to name but a few, we still need more. We need them across a range of industries too, so it’s not only fashion, entertainment, beauty and media. We need more representation in tech, finance and professional services too. Sectors which traditionally achieve higher salaries.

And when we find female entrepreneurs, we need to shout about them and their success from the rooftops.

My pledge this IWD is to proactively seek out and champion more female entrepreneurs to all the young girls and women in my life. So that when it comes to speaking about successful entrepreneurs in the future years, it’s female names that trip off their tongues as easily as Musk, Branson, Bezos and Jobs.

*Source: Crunchbase

Contributed by Susie Burdekin, Business Coach & Consultant

Susie is a business coach, consultant and founder of Spark Gold. For over 20 years, she has worked in fast growth digital and marketing agencies from small independents to global networks. During this time, she has founded, run, and grown businesses, including co-founding a brand partnership agency, and transformation agency, Commercial Break – which champions diversity in the agency world. She combines her business experience with coaching to help business owners and their teams gain clarity and create a clear path forward to take their business to the next stage.