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Wednesday, April 6, 2022 - 15:35

International Women’s Day is on Tuesday 8th March 2022, with this in mind we’re taking a look at launching a business as a woman in the UK. 

Today there are over 37% women on FTSE 350 boards, and around 31% of all leadership roles are occupied by women. Globally women are a third more likely than men to work in a sector or industry shut down by coronavirus. More than half a billion women, or 40% of all employed women, work in the most affected sectors.

Issues Faced By Female Business Owners

In 2021, 200 British business leaders submitted an open letter to the Government, highlighting the chronic and unfair finance gap faced by female entrepreneurs. Women tend to start businesses with much less available capital than male entrepreneurs. 

Some female leaders experience outright sexism. Two-thirds of female founders felt they were not taken seriously when pitching to investors and were treated differently from their male counterparts. 

A report by Vistaprint found that female business owners find failure more difficult to overcome than their male counterparts and more than two-thirds of female entrepreneurs admitted they find it hard to bounce back from failures. Anxiety and fear of failure can be worsened by working in male-dominated industries, where women can feel excluded or patronised.

Fewer female founders mean fewer women available to mentor their fellow entrepreneurs. This makes it harder for interested women to learn from their peers. Although women-focused networking events and clubs have begun appearing, female leaders are also finding one another online.

A common reason that a woman may be less likely to start a business is that she is often the family’s primary caregiver. 58% of the 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK are women, according to census data. 

Support For Women In Business

AllBright - Connects women across more than ten countries, providing courses and networking events

AccelerateHER - Aimed at female-led technology businesses and start-ups with a global mission to rebalance gender across the technology sector

Business Woman’s Network - The Business Woman’s Network connects female business owners at events across the UK to grow business and find new customers

British Association of Women Entrepreneurs (BAWE) - A not-for-profit network of female directors and founders and is the only women entrepreneurs network, especially for women with capital at risk

Can Did - The Can Did network is a membership organisation that connects female business owners across the UK and offers monthly virtual networking events

Driven Woman - Creating events and workshops to help women achieve goals and gain support

Everywoman - Everywoman provides access to webinars, workbooks, training and the Everywoman Awards that showcase female business excellence

Female Entrepreneur Association - 650,000 members across more than 67 countries and representing over 500 industries

Female Founders Forum - Aims to connect inspirational female entrepreneurs with those on the cusp of growing quickly

For Working Ladies - A digital platform providing content, community & events for entrepreneurial thinking women

Invest in Women Hub - The Invest in Women Hub provides help and guidance on setting up a business, accessing finance, maintaining a work/life balance, and finding support and networking

Prowess - Free to use, it provides advice articles, directories of local women’s business networks and information about finding and arranging funding

She Means Business - Joining allows access to virtual training events, live Q&As and the ability to connect with business advisers who specialise in a range of start-up expertise

We Are Tech Women - WeAreTechWomen supports women in technology with the purpose to help women in tech by helping them enhance their skills

Women in Business Network - WIBN is a UK-wide network of local groups that hold monthly meetings and events for networking and gaining new business opportunities

Women In Rural Enterprise - A national business support network; promoting, supporting and developing its membership of rural businesswomen

Women Mean Biz - A serious and empowered women’s network that is designed to deliver business results, members are drawn from start-ups, established companies and large corporations

Small Business Grants Available For Women in the UK

Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology

If you’re a female entrepreneur with an existing business or want to start a business in the tech or computing industries, the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology hosts two awards, the Abie Awards and the Pass It On Awards, which could provide the vital funding you need. Any woman aged over 18 and either working in or aspiring to work in the computing industry can be nominated. The specific entry criteria will differ depending on the award you’re nominated for.

Back Her Business 

The Back Her Business initiative was launched by Natwest in 2019 to help more female entrepreneurs start their own businesses. The initiative gives participants a crowdfunding platform to raise the money they need to launch their businesses and provides coaching, workshops and mentoring sessions. To apply, UK-based, female-led start-ups must set up a crowdfunding project with a minimum target of £1,000. Natwest will then match the funding successful applicants receive up to a maximum of £5,000. The initiative is ongoing so applications can be submitted at any time.

Cartier Women’s Initiative

Every year, the Cartier Women’s Initiative invites women from around the world to apply for one of its 21 grants. To apply, businesses must be early-stage, have an original concept and have the potential to grow significantly over the next few years. The main leadership position must also be filled by a woman who owns a significant stake in the company. 

The 21 successful applicants are given access to workshops, exclusive networking events, one-on-one coaching sessions and the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship 6-Day Executive programme. 14 of those finalists will also receive grants of £24,000, while the seven winners will receive the equivalent of £80,000.

Female Founders Fund

This early-stage fund seeks to invest in women-led start-ups that are making an impact in e-commerce, web-enabled products and services, platforms and marketplaces that connect buyers and sellers. Although this is not a small business grant, this could be a viable way to raise capital if small business grants are not available. To apply for funding, applicants should submit their pitches to the Female Founders Fund via email.

Global Fund for Women

The Global Fund for Women supports organisations that are led by groups of women and trans people who are committed to advancing gender equality and human rights in their communities and tackling the biggest challenges faced by women and girls today. 

The fund provides flexible cash grants that can be used to cover start-up costs such as operating and programme expenses or be put towards more specific expenses such as travel and the implementation of educational programmes. To apply, businesses must be based outside the US and be run by a group of women (the fund awards grants to groups, not individuals). Applications can be made all year round.

The Women in Innovation Awards 

If your UK business is at least one-year-old and contributing to a greener world, developing new treatments and services for healthcare patients, tackling climate change or marrying together artificial intelligence and data the Women in Innovation Awards could be a source of funding for you. 

Get in touch to find out more about how CBM can support your business. To speak with one of our expert consultants please call us on 01604 420 420 or complete the form on the right.

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