Government report calls for more support for female entrepreneurs

Research indicates that raising the level of women’s employment to the same as men’s could increase GDP by 10% by 2030

Female entrepreneurs could play a much bigger role in the economy if they were given the necessary support, creating jobs, boosting growth and reducing gender inequality – according to The Burt Report.

The report, titled Inclusive Support for Women in Enterprise, found that although the number of small and medium enterprises run by women has increased, much work still needs to be done to close the gender gap. Around only one in five businesses is majority-owned by a woman and women are a third less likely to start a business.

The report recommends that firms think and speak more inclusively and break down the unnecessary barriers faced by women to accessing support in order to fully reap the economic benefits of the female entrepreneurial workforce.

Progress is happening, but it is slow – since 2008 the proportion of small and medium-sized businesses run by women has increased from 14% to 20%. The £1m Women and Broadband Challenge Fund, mentoring events and the Aspire Fund are some of the steps taken by the government to inspire and support female entrepreneurs.

Business secretary Vince Cable said: “I appointed Lorely as ‘women in enterprise champion’ so she could build on the good work we’ve already done and help us increase entrepreneurial aspiration among women.

“Reaching our target of 25% women on FTSE 100 boards by 2015 is now in sight. The government is committed to ensuring that talented women have the tools at hand whether it’s running a business on their own or heading up a corporate board.

“The evidence is clear – gender diversity delivers better business decisions which are vital to securing the future prosperity of the UK.

Women in enterprise champion Lorely Burt commented: “I was delighted when Vince offered me the chance to do something for women entrepreneurs.

“Women entrepreneurs have huge potential to build on Britain’s hard-won recovery, creating a stronger economy and a fairer society. Sadly too much female entrepreneurial talent remains untapped although the coalition government has made progress.

“In my report I outline the economic and the moral case for taking further action to unlock women’s business talent. We need to encourage government and business to think inclusively at all times. We must also break unnecessary barriers between entrepreneurs and the support they need to succeed.

“I am pleased to see the government is taking action and I look forward to further progress over the years ahead.”

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