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Closing The Gap

Supporting female entrepreneurs could add $326 billion to the UK economy, review finds


Closing the gender gap in the British entrepreneur space could generate as much as £250 billion ($326.4 billion) for the country's economy.

That's according to the publication of the Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, an independent review commissioned by the U.K. Treasury. The report, released Friday, has warned over the many barriers women face when setting up a company.

The report found that on average, female-led businesses are only 44 percent of the size of male-led ones, in relation to economic contribution.

On top of that, when it comes to building a business with £1 million turnover or more, male-run enterprises are five times more likely to deliver this. It is claimed in the report, that lower rates of female entrepreneurship are established from several barriers, including fear of failure, along with low access and awareness of capital.

According to the Rose Review, only one in three U.K. entrepreneurs are female, a gender gap that's comparable to 1.1 million "missing businesses". The review estimated that should the U.K. close this entrepreneurial gender gap, it could generate up to £250 billion ($326.4 billion) in added gross value for the economy.

In fact, even if the U.K. only managed to reach the same average share of female entrepreneurs compared to other nations, this could generate £200 billion for the economy. At present, around 6% of British women run their own companies, compared to almost 11% in the U.S. and over 9% in Australia, the report said. The U.K. government aims to increase the number of female entrepreneurs by 50% by 2030.

On the back of the findings, the government announced Friday that it would establish a new Code for Investing in Women, as part of a new aim to significantly prop up the number of British female entrepreneurs.

Prime Minister Theresa May said that she wanted to build a country "where all women can go as far as their talents and hard work can take them."

She added that while it's "fantastic" that there are already more than a million firms led by women, the review underlined that more needs to be done.

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Alison Rose, who headed up the review, said Britain has to find more ways to unlock the untapped potential of women.

"It is imperative that we support female entrepreneurs and capitalise on the missed opportunity which is significant," Rose, the deputy CEO of NatWest Holdings, said in a statement.

"Some of the findings are stark but by shining a spotlight on the issues and outlining the barriers and opportunities, the aim is to support the full potential of every woman who has the entrepreneurial spirit and ambition to start or scale their business."

The Rose Review put forward several recommendations to tackle such issues, including the code on investing in female entrepreneurs which the government has confirmed it will take on. This code, which has already been accepted by leading finance institutions like Lloyds Banking Group, will look at the funding decisions of financial groups, and ask lenders to publish the gender split of the investments they deliver annually.

On top of the program announcement, the government said it would look to elevate online advice for all aspiring businesspeople and firms, along with supporting efforts surrounding promoting entrepreneurship among teenage school girls.

"Together we can fire up Britain's entrepreneurial spirit for the 21st Century," said Robert Jenrick, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, adding that they hope to make sure that "no one is held back from realizing their full potential."

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