Deloitte's Women entrepreneurs: Developing collaborative ecosystems for success report, compiled for the Women’s Business Council, found that less than 6% of working-age women are engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activity, compared to more than 10% of men.
However, increasing female participation to 10% would take the overall economic contribution of female-led SMEs to more than £180 billion by 2025.
The research also found that while many of the businesses created since the 2008 recession have been established by women, the proportion of working-age women engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activity fell from 6.3% in 2012 to 5.7% in 2014.
Deloitte recommended the creation of a ‘Women’s Enterprise Academy’ to provide development opportunities for ambitious and talented female entrepreneurs. The aim would be to help them “scale their businesses more effectively and achieve their true potential". The report also suggested the development of a new digital platform that provides women entrepreneurs with better access to relevant role models, support groups, business mentors and a wider network of assistance.
Denis Woulfe, co-author of the report and a vice chair at Deloitte, said that as well as the proportion of working-age women engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activity falling: “The longevity rates for businesses led by women have also been lower."
He added: "While there are many fantastic examples of female-led start-ups, these statistics show that much of the potential remains untapped. One of the barriers we identified to women setting up their own business was limited access to relevant role models, quality mentors and professional networks. These are vital for anyone looking to set up their first business.
“We need a more focused and connected programme of initiatives, involving a systematic approach to supporting female entrepreneurs to scale their businesses.”