High street boosted by female entrepreneurs

The UK high street has seen a dramatic number of women starting businesses compared to previous years, research finds.

Half (49.5 per cent) of small firms established in the past two years in retail or hotels, catering and leisure are owned primarily by women, according to a study of more than 8,000 companies by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

This is in stark contrast to high street businesses started more than 20 years ago, when only a quarter (24 per cent) of such businesses were primarily female owned.

Some 60 per cent of shops on Helmsley high street in North Yorkshire are run by women, according to a report by the BBC.

Further research by the FSB shows women business owners are less likely to take financial risks, borrowing an average of £18,700 for their business compared to £28,800 borrowed by male business owners.

The lobbying group finds that access to finance remains an issue for small firms in every sector, with 40 per cent of firms applying for finance having their applications denied.

In addition, FSB research finds women are more likely to work for a micro-business than larger firms. Unemployed women are only 75 per cent as likely to secure a job in a firm employing 11 to 249 employees as they are to work in a micro firm.

FSB national chairman John Allan says, ‘How fantastic to see more women in business; in particular taking a leading-role on UK high streets. The UK’s town centres look a lot different today than even five years ago. We really need to keep small businesses at the heart of the local community generating wealth, employment and opportunity.

‘We are witnessing a welcome change with more women entrepreneurs establishing businesses than at any time before. And it is striking how this trend seems to be speeding up since the recession – it shows many women have the guts and a real entrepreneurial spirit.’

Further reading on entrepreneurship

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.