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FSB to launch Women in Enterprise Taskforce

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is to create a taskforce dedicated to supporting women entrepreneurs and business owners.

The FSB has examined the specific challenges faced by women-led businesses in a recent survey of 1,900 women business owners in the UK. The findings have been published in a new report, Women in Enterprise: The Untapped Potential, which makes recommendations for improving support, developing mentoring networks and increasing the diversity of business ambassadors.


While the report finds that women-led businesses face many of the same challenges that all small firms encounter - including cash flow problems (42%) and difficulty accessing finance (25%) - some issues are more acute for women business owners. These include: balancing work and family life (40%), achieving credibility for the business (37%) and a lack of confidence (22%). All of these factors, says the FSB, are limiting women's ability to start, run and grow their businesses.


Helen Walbey, FSB Diversity Policy Chair, said

"Getting more women into business is critical for a dynamic and vibrant small business sector. That's why we need to work out what the barriers are for women and break them down one by one."

Women-led smaller businesses contribute over £75 billion to the UK economy but only 18% of firms are majority run by women, said Walbey. 

"If women were to set up businesses and grow them at the same rate as men, we would see a huge boost to growth and prosperity in this country. In fact, the government estimates it could add £600 billion to the economy."

The report also found that 34% of women business owners say they have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace. This was felt particularly in sectors that are traditionally male dominated - for example in construction where over half (54%) had experienced discrimination.


Walbey said: 

"More needs to be done to really empower women. Vocational education is one way to grow the next generation of women entrepreneurs, but they also need long-term business support to help them succeed and grow. Better advice and mentoring should be provided and Maternity Allowance for the self-employed should be brought in line with Statutory Maternity Pay."

The new taskforce will develop a series of regional events and networking opportunities as well as working with government to promote women's entrepreneurship.

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