The FINANCIAL — Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has launched its Inspiring Women in Enterprise campaign to encourage a further 20,000 women to become entrepreneurs.
The £1.5 million, three year strategy will provide grants up to £50,000 to organisations across the UK that encourage and support women into enterprise. The Scheme is underpinned by Aston Business School research, which highlights that changes are needed to address the continually low female entrepreneurship rates in the UK.
Based on research using the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) data setst the ‘Women in Enterprise; a different perspective’ report, shows that since the early 1970’s, the rate of self-employment amongst women has consistently remained half that of men. As Aston University reported, in 2011, just over 10% of men were in the early stages of setting up a business, compared with only 5% of women. The research also indicates that, while women make up 48% of the working population, they make up only 26% of the self-employed and just 17% of business owners.
Professor Mark Hart from Aston Business School, said the report suggests that three main gender differences exist in entrepreneurship – start-up rates, the nature of the businesses run and future growth intentions.
Prof Hart said; “Women in the UK are about half as likely as their male counterparts to begin new firms and this is a common finding throughout most developed and developing economies. Once in business however there are few gender-related performance differences evident amongst the self-employed or small firm owners. Nevertheless, amongst those firms and SME’s which do significantly grow and develop, women are under-represented. Schemes such as this run by Royal Bank of Scotland will be extremely beneficial in encouraging more women to engage in the entrepreneurial process”
Key findings from the report are: Women are more likely to own firms which operate from home, and on a part-time basis, which makes these businesses more likely to have limited growth trajectories.
Promoting and including more diverse role models is essential to encourage more girls and young women to consider self-employment as acceptable and achievable.
Encouraging younger women with higher education backgrounds into enterprise is essential. This in turn will also ensure that women-owned firms are distributed more widely across the general business population.
Chris Sullivan, CEO of Corporate Banking at RBS commented; “A gap between the numbers of male and female entrepreneurs still exists and we are doing all we can as a bank to close it down. The research goes some way in illustrating the perceived barriers to women and I hope that this RBS Inspiring Women in Enterprise funding helps to provide support where it is most needed and encourages more women to consider starting their own business.”