Third year of progress for female entrepreneurship

Text saying "The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship"Natwest Group’s Rose Review Progress Report 2022 shows a third year of progress for women in business and a record number of new companies started by women. 

The latest report on female entrepreneurship sets out the full extent of progress made since the first Rose Review in 2019. It outlines the extra support needed for female-led businesses to thrive, and the challenges they have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Rose Review was launched in 2019 when HM Treasury commissioned Alison Rose, the CEO of NatWest, to lead an independent review of female entrepreneurship. 

The review originally highlighted that if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men, up to £250bn of new value could be added to the UK economy. The latest progress report outlines progress made against targets and initiatives but cautions that there is still more to do.

Data shows that more women than ever are starting new businesses, with 145,200 all-female-led incorporations in 2021, up from 56,200 in 2018. This represents an average year on year growth of 37 per cent per annum. These incorporations comprised 20 per cent of the total in 2021, up from 16 per cent in 2018. 

In July 2019 the treasury launched the Investing in Women Code following the recommendation made in the 2019 Rose Review. The Code is a commitment by financial services firms to improve female entrepreneurs’ access to tools, resources and finance. 

It commits lenders and investors to collect and report data about their performance backing female-led firms and the number of signatories has leapt by a half over the past year. In total, 134 institutions with an investing power of nearly £1 trillion have now signed up to the Investing in Women Code. 

Other Rose Review initiatives have also seen tens of thousands of entrepreneurs across the UK benefiting from funding, advice and mentoring schemes, while thousands of students have received enterprise training, leading to significant year on year growth in female-led start-ups.

However, research conducted for the Rose Review shows that the impact of Covid-19 risks holding back progress. It suggests that despite the rapid growth in female-led start-ups, female entrepreneurs have spent twice as long on caring responsibilities during the pandemic as their male counterparts, and that their businesses have been less likely to recover.

In response, members of the Rose Review board have announced extra measures to boost support for female entrepreneurs:

  • The launch of a nationwide Women Backing Women campaign from the Women Angel Investment Taskforce to support women to become business angels and thereby ensure that female founders across the UK have a better chance to access early-stage investment, wherever their businesses are based.
  • Expanded schemes will provide networking and mentoring opportunities and other direct support to hundreds of thousands of female founders over the next three years.
  • A recruitment campaign, with the personal engagement of NatWest Group chief executive Alison Rose and business minister Paul Scully, to encourage even more institutions to sign up to the Investing In Women Code.

Alison Rose, CEO NatWest Group and author of the Rose Review, commented:

“We have seen real progress since 2019. Getting more funding to female entrepreneurs and unlocking their untapped potential continues to be a priority across our industry. But women still don’t receive all the support they need and the pandemic risks holding back progress, so we must go further to achieve the goals of the Rose Review.

“Data shows that more women than ever are starting new businesses and we must harness this potential. That means more financial institutions committing to delivering change and funding. We also need more direct support for businesses across the UK and we must propose fresh, imaginative solutions to the challenges posed by women’s caring responsibilities.”

Read the full Rose Review Progress Report 2022 here.

Are you a female entrepreneur or woman in business in Sandwell? Visit our Women in business page for support and advice or to find out how to offer support to other women in business.