The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) published their paper Women In Business which sets the agenda to encourage and nurture entrepreneurship and the option of self-employment.
Part of the analysis champions the success rate of the US; if the UK had a similar level of female entrepreneurship as the US, it would create 600,000 extra women-owned businesses which, in turn, contributes an estimated additional £42bn to the economy.
The policy of previous governments within the UK and EU has not led to the desirable level of promotion of female entrepreneurs. A recent EU report has shown that females lag behind on the majority of outputs recorded – patents awarded, venture capital started businesses and innovation indices, to name a few.
One myth states that women are discriminated against when applying for banks finance when in actual fact women are often seen as less risky. Having said this, women are granted fewer loans than men; this is attributed to the lack of confidence women have in applying for bank credit or the potential lack of information on the different types of finance available.
There is also a large emphasis on women-specific groups and networking events as well as access to female mentors. Research has shown that women respond better to female-specific groups and would certainly be a good starting point to start promoting entrepreneurship. This would also have the added benefit of increasing the exposure of other female business owners and role-models.
This should also tie-in with the New Enterprise Allowance; ensuring that there are specific events and mentors to cater for all potential business owners will give entrepreneurs the best possible chance to succeed.
Furthermore, a reduction in the number of regulations will help simplify the process for all (potential) business owners and will give greater freedom to those private entrepreneurs. The current government’s policy on regulation is encouraging and positive media coverage would go someway to enterprise promotion.
There is certainly a need to utilise the untapped potential and to make more females aware and exposed to their personal benefits as well as those to society. These measures will certainly do that but to what extent is yet to be known. The finance required to promote these causes will be substantial and there will have to be the backing as well as the ideology to push this forwards.
It will be important to assess the return on investment on these schemes to ensure that the finance is allocated and used to maximum efficiency.
The long term solution to encourage entrepreneurship is to expose children from a young age to business. Creating the idea, understanding how to make this into a business and promoting the product are all key aspects. The exposure to business owners, both male and female, from the local area and nationally will also be important to give children the perspective.
Exposing children to business will solve many of the issues that women face today and I would couch that, in terms of spending, it would be more efficient. Having said this there is a real need to boost female entrepreneurship in this country and lessons should be learnt so long as we realise that this isn’t a long term solution.