One year on from the release of the Rose Review, NatWest CEO Alison Rose details the progress that has been made to better support female entrepreneurs.
Last updated: 21 Jul 2020 3 min read
The UK is the start-up capital of Europe, attracting more venture capital than any other European country, yet only one in three UK entrepreneurs is female. In comparison with 15% of women in Canada, almost 11% of women in the US, and over 9% of women in Australia and the Netherlands, only 5.6% of UK women run their own companies. The Rose Review into female entrepreneurship, released in March 2019, revealed that female entrepreneurs were underrepresented in high-value sectors such as manufacturing, IT and communications, and financial services. Access to funding, risk awareness, primary care responsibilities and perception of skills were among the barriers to female entrepreneurs identified in the report. Yet the prize for overcoming this is high: according to the review, boosting female entrepreneurship could add £250bn to the economy. In order to achieve this, Rose suggested eight initiatives the private sector (and parts of the public sector) could take forward, including: increased funding; support from private investors; the expansion of mentoring and networking opportunities; and accelerating the rollout of entrepreneurial courses to schools and colleges.
One year on, Rose is publishing an update assessing the progress that has been made in support of these initiatives since the release of the Rose Review. Significant progress has been made in a number of key areas, including: the launch of the Investing in Women Code to boost investment in female entrepreneurs; NatWest’s announcement of £1bn of ring-fenced debt funding for female-led businesses; and access to a banking ‘expert in residence’ being ensured for all 38 UK Local Enterprise Partenerships. Rose says: “The Rose Review into female entrepreneurship was born out of a sense of frustration at the unacceptable disparity which exists between female and male entrepreneurs and the slow progress in closing this gap. “Our hope was always that the Review would galvanise real action – we did not want it to sit on a shelf – so we committed to give a progress update. We have been heartened by the commitment to implementing the recommendations of the report since its publication in March 2019, reinforced by this government’s ambition to increase the number of female entrepreneurs by half by 2030.”
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 we published research 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.