Women entrepreneurs and business leaders are increasingly delivering growth and creating jobs in the UK, according to a new report.
Research published by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and launched at Facebook Community Boost has found that women-owned businesses contribute £105bn to the UK economy. That figure rises to £221bn when it also includes businesses led by women.
Female entrepreneurs are also creating many new jobs. The FSB report, Supporting Women's Enterprise in the UK: The Economic Case, reveals that 24% of private sector employment is now generated by women-owned and women-led businesses.
The findings show that there has been a 40% increase in the UK economic contribution and a 26% increase in employment generated by businesses owned by women between 2012 and 2015. Across UK nations, Wales and Northern Ireland lead the way in the contribution women-owned businesses make to their economies.
However, despite the rise in female founders overall, the report has found that the proportionate contribution from women-owned businesses in manufacturing has declined. In fact, the findings show that women are less well represented in a number of high profit sectors, including manufacturing.
Lina Bourdon, FSB's Women in Enterprise lead, said: "Developing and supporting women's enterprise is proven to be critically important for economic prosperity. The government must now address this untapped potential with a range of suitable measures, such as career advice, role models and access to business support and finance."
Carolyn Currie, ceo of Women's Enterprise Scotland, which compiled the report for FSB, said: "Our research shows that women-owned businesses are providing critical employment in communities across the UK and now represent 11% of total private sector employment. We must ensure that this momentum continues and we are calling for economic development organisations to step forward and provide the needs-based support that these businesses need to continue growing.
"With dedicated resources and support, women-owned businesses have the opportunity to harness the momentum already created and continue to grow their economic impact and value across all areas of the UK and all sectors."
Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook's vp EMEA said: "We all have a role to play in addressing the diversity imbalances that exist around the world. It's unacceptable that our culture is still hard-wired against women in leadership roles. Until that changes we need to find ways to get behind the women who want to step forward and lead, to give them the skills and courage to succeed."