How to empower female entrepreneurialism in the City

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City of London
Image credit Unsplash

Over the last few decades, women have been breaking barriers and making serious strides in the business world. Despite this, the number of women starting and scaling businesses remains much lower than men, with only one in four businesses in the UK being owned or led by a woman.

Women do not lack the ability or ambition, however, gender biases, societal constraints and access to support can be a roadblock. Research published as part of National Women’s Enterprise Week (NWEW) found that more than half of women (53%) lack confidence when it comes to running their own business. While 51% of women stated they had the interest and desire to found their own business, it was someone aside from themselves that gave them the self-belief that they could do it.

As more women in the city seek better autonomy and flexibility over their working lives, here’s how we can make sure these obstacles don’t become permanent barriers.

Never underestimate the power of community

Our data, commissioned in conjunction with Sapio Research, discovered that women entrepreneurs often feel less successful than their male counterparts (28% vs 39%). A possible contributing factor to male confidence in business ownership is the community they receive support from. We need to demonstrate to women that they don’t need to go through the process alone and that there is a strong support network out there that can provide encouragement during those tough times and open doors to new opportunities.

For women, especially those in the city from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds, starting a business can often be a lonely experience and they may not know where to turn to for help. A way to proactively champion and amplify these opportunities could be through a London-centric digital portal which signposts all the available help for entrepreneurs, especially highlighting organisations such as the British Library’s Business & IP Centre as well as tips on unlocking funding and grants.

From mentorship programmes where budding entrepreneurs are paired with established leaders, to networking events that can help women build the connections necessary for the growth and success of their company, we can encourage women to not only realise their full potential, but act on it. As a result, more women will feel empowered to start their own businesses, creating more jobs and boosting economic growth.

Getting involved in existing initiatives

For many businesses in London, it has never been more important to play a significant, positive role in leading meaningful change.

One way to do this is by getting involved in initiatives such as National Women’s Enterprise Week. Participation can range from financial sponsorships or practical engagement such as free business advice sessions or taking on aspiring entrepreneurs so they can gain experience first-hand and learn the basics of running a business.

Increasing visibility of successful women

To further propel this, we need to consistently champion women and highlight successful female leaders. From the classroom to television and social media, campaigns that specifically aim to emphasise the achievements of women in business will help break down stereotypes around ‘women’s work’ and inspire a new generation of female entrepreneurs to carve out their own path.

London is a hotbed for startups and the city is full of remarkably talented women in business and leadership roles. It’s our job as a city to celebrate this. In the same way we recognise the city’s vibrant tech ecosystem with events such as London Tech Week, we should host a festival of female entrepreneurship, bringing together some of the UK’s most influential female entrepreneurs and business leaders to share ideas and practical insights on how to start and grow a business.

Starting a business is daunting but empowering female entrepreneurs and encouraging the next generation of women to pursue leadership is vital. Britain will only fulfil its true potential when women fulfil theirs.

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