New research reveals women-owned businesses contribute estimated £105bn to UK economy

  • New research from the Federation of Small Businesses, involving the University of Portsmouth, reveals an estimated 40 per cent increase in UK economic contribution and a 26 per cent increase in employment generated by women-owned businesses.
  • Over 11 per cent of private sector employment is now calculated to be generated by women-owned businesses, for women-led businesses the figure being even higher at nearly 14 per cent.
  • Diversity in manufacturing and higher growth sectors is still a challenge, with a reduction in the proportion of women-owned firms in these sectors.

Women, as owners and managers, are increasingly becoming growth drivers and, more particularly, job creators in the UK, according to new research published by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), involving the University of Portsmouth, today.

The report shows that women-owned businesses are now calculated to contribute a staggering £105bn to the UK economy.

A new report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), ‘Supporting Women’s Enterprise in the UK: The Economic Case’, shows that women-owned businesses are now calculated to contribute a staggering £105bn to the UK economy, an increase of 40 per cent since comprehensive data was last collected and analysed. This equates to women-owned businesses contributing £36k GVA for each person they employ, 6.3 per cent of total UK GVA.

The contribution women make to the UK economy is even more significant when the Gross Value Add (GVA) of women-led businesses is estimated. The research shows that women-led businesses are estimated to contribute over £116bn in GVA, representing 7 per cent of total GVA. Across UK nations, using available data, the estimates show that Wales (7.24 per cent of GVA) and Northern Ireland (9.23 per cent of GVA) lead the way in the contribution women-owned businesses make to their economies. Northern Ireland has seen the biggest increase since 2012 with just under four per cent increase in GVA.

The University of Portsmouth contribution to the study was to identify the gaps in current data available and highlight ways in which these gaps might be filled. Using the limited data that was available, with appropriate assumptions attached, Portsmouth researchers also provided estimates for the value of women-owned and women-led small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to the UK economy in terms of both Gross Value Added (GVA) and employment. They were also able to provide some estimations for these values for the constituent nations of the UK, as well as a sectoral breakdown.

David Pickernell, Professor of Small Business and Enterprise Development at the University of Portsmouth who helped to provide the data, said: “This research, published by FSB, is important, both because it highlights areas where more and better data is required to more fully explore the importance of female-owned and led SMEs to the UK, and also because the available data suggests this importance is growing. This research reinforces the need therefore for more, and better, data and policy to provide the support and resources women-owned business can use to further strengthen their beneficial economic and social impact.”

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.”

Despite the rise in female founders overall, the proportionate contribution from women-owned businesses in manufacturing has declined. The report findings show that over the period studied (2012 – 2015) there has been a reduction in the contribution of the manufacturing sector to women-owned businesses’ GVA (from 14.9 per cent to 11 per cent) and proportion of employment (from 8.7 per cent to 7.1 per cent).

This is concerning because manufacturing is a relatively high profit and productivity sector. A larger proportion of women-owned businesses are in the care sector which has low profit.

The ‘Supporting Women’s Enterprise in the UK: The Economic Case’ report is being launched by FSB at Facebook’s Community Boost event taking place on 13 and 14 November at London’s Millbank Tower. Across the two days, attendees will be invited to join a series of free-to-enter workshops and talks designed to help boost their digital skills, expand their networks and grow their businesses both here in the UK and further afield.

Carolyn Currie, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES)said: “Our research shows that women-owned businesses are providing critical employment in communities across the UK and now represent 11 per cent 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.”

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  1. Nice Information and success for your Team.


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