Women entrepreneurs

Developing collaborative ecosystems for success 

Deloitte has undertaken a strategic project for the Women’s Business Council to assess the current impact of women entrepreneurs on the national economy.

How can we better develop and enhance female entrepreneurs in the UK?

It's what we do that makes the difference

Background to our research

The Women’s Business Council was set up by the UK government in 2012 as an independent working group to advise on how the contribution of women to economic growth can be optimised.

It is made up of senior business leaders across key sectors who report to the Minister for Women and Equalities, Justine Greening, and are supported in their work by the Government of Equalities Office

The report was compiled for the Women’s Business Council and draws on research and interviews of successful women entrepreneurs from across the UK.

It seeks to establish the common barriers which prevent women from setting up and succeeding with their businesses and makes recommendations as to what could be done to promote greater success.

Women entrepreneurs: Developing collaborative ecosystems for success

Deloitte speaks to a leading female entrepreneur Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne Founder, Genius Food Ltd

Female entrepreneurship: what we found

  • 5.7% of working-age women were engaged in early stage entrepreneurial activity in 2014, compared to more than 10% of working-age men
  • Longevity rates of women’s businesses are lower than those set up by men
  • Report calls for a Women’s Enterprise Academy to provide leadership and network development opportunities for the most ambitious and talented women entrepreneurs.

The impact on our economy

Currently, fewer than 6% of working-age women are engaged in early stage entrepreneurial activity, compared to more than 10% of men. Increasing female participation in the sector to 10% would take the overall economic contribution of women-led SMEs to more than £180bn by 2025.

Targeted help for early stage women entrepreneurs could provide a £100bn boost to the UK economy over the next ten years.

Our recommendations for developing women entrepreneurs

  1. The creation of a Women’s Enterprise Academy; this would provide development opportunities for the most ambitious and talented female entrepreneurs, helping them to scale their businesses more effectively and achieve their true potential.
  2. Development of a new digital platform providing women entrepreneurs with better access to relevant role models, support groups, business mentors and a wider network of assistance.

“I welcome this report from Deloitte which sets out some of the challenges still faced by female entrepreneurs who wish to start, grow or diversify their business. The government has taken action to support female entrepreneurs, including sponsoring mentoring roadshows, delivering bespoke digital and business training and providing Start-up Loans to more than 11,000 women.

"These measures have helped the UK become one of the most attractive places in the world for female entrepreneurs and underpin a sector which already contributes £85bn to the UK economy. But we are not complacent and we will consider the recommendations of the report very carefully.”


Caroline Dineage, Parliamentary under-secretary of state for women, equalities and family justice


Denis Woulfe, Vice Chairman, Deloitte LLP

Prashant Bharadwaj, Director, Deloitte LLP

Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, Chairperson, Women's Business Council

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