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NatWest CEO Alison Rose discusses the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on female business owners and shares the progress that has been made since the 2019 Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship.
Last updated: 19 Apr 2021 4 min read
This has been a year like no other in living memory. When the Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship was published in March 2019, we could not have anticipated what lay ahead. Given the challenges we face to build back stronger, the Rose Review ambition to increase the number of successful female entrepreneurs is even more relevant now. Our economic recovery desperately needs the untapped potential that women-led businesses represent: equivalent to more than 1m missing SME businesses and £250bn of additional value for the UK economy.
The pandemic has compounded the difficulties and expanded the obstacles faced by many women in starting, continuing and scaling their business. Recent research by NatWest says that nearly three quarters (77%) of female business owners found managing their business in the pandemic stressful, compared to 55% of male entrepreneurs. Women are also 17% more likely than men to struggle balancing business demands with family life.
Against this difficult backdrop, we have made good progress. Through the Rose Review Board and the Investing in Women Council, we have continued to work in partnership with a variety of organisations in business, finance and the third sector, and with HM Treasury (HMT) and the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), to drive forward all eight initiatives proposed in the Review.
Some key highlights include:
The eight initiatives highlighted in the Rose Review are just the starting platform for the sustained action required to achieve our ambition of increasing the number of female-owned businesses by half by 2030. All of us, from ministers to employers to investors, have a duty to ensure that further pain isn’t felt disproportionately by women and that anyone who retains an ambition to start or grow a business is helped with targeted and innovative assistance. I am determined that we at the Rose Review will play our part. You can download the latest progress report, and the original report, below.
The Rose Review found that only 13% of senior people on UK investment teams are women, and almost half (48%) of investment teams have no women at all.
To help address this, the Rose Review Council has published Guidance And Best Practice: Examples For VCs And Institutional Investors, a document created by leading investors within the venture community as a resource for institutional and other investors who wish to maximise access to diverse deal flow, and manage their companies and portfolios to optimise return. You can download the guidance below.
The Rose Review identified that for female entrepreneurs with children, family care responsibilities are the number one barrier to further business success, with 46% of female parent entrepreneurs identifying it as a “very important” or “important” barrier.
In October 2019 the bank published its research, Supporting Business Through Family Care Responsibilities, on what financial products entrepreneurs with family care responsibilities (irrespective of gender) would find most useful. We hope this will encourage financial institutions to offer greater flexibility around lending for entrepreneurs. You can download this research at the bottom of the page.