Number of new female entrepreneurs has reached a five-year low

Smiling young African entrepreneur standing in front of the counter of her cafe talking on a cellphone and using a tablet, single parent business owner

The number of new female entrepreneurs has dipped below 30 per cent for the first time in five years, according to new research.

Despite positive news that the number of female FTSE 350 directors has risen 50 per cent in five years, with women now accounting for 33 per cent of board positions, the percentage of female sole trader registrations has declined – from 31 per cent to 29 per cent – in the last four years.

The Age of Entrepreneurialism study by The Accountancy Partnership revealed that although there has been an overall increase in new businesses created in the past 12 months, this has not been reflected in the percentage of women registering as sole traders.

Women made up fewer than a third of sole trader registrations in the year-long period from 1st February 2020 – down a further two per cent on the previous year. The average percentage across all age groups for the previous four years was 31 per cent, and female registrations have always remained above 30 per cent.

The male-domination of entrepreneurialism is reflected throughout all age groups but is especially prevalent in the 16-20-year-old category, where women are 80 per cent less likely to start a business than their male counterparts.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on women’s careers and these figures suggest that the impact extends to female entrepreneurialism too.

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Speaking about the findings, Beth-Anne Bruce, Accounts Senior at The Accountancy Partnership, said, “It is crucial that the impact of Covid-19 is rectified and that a more equal balance in entrepreneurialism is created in future years.”

“Many women have not been privy to the same opportunities as men throughout their careers and the pandemic has hit the traditionally female-led industries, such as beauty, health, retail and social care, particularly hard.”

“While progress is being made in the board rooms of Britain’s biggest businesses, we must also do all we can to support businesses at the other end of the spectrum and ensure that the female start-ups of today have the opportunities to grow and survive.”

“My first-hand experience with clients proves that women are more than capable of running businesses, so it is a case of equipping more women with the practical tools and confidence to do so.”

“As the world recovers from the pandemic and business-as-usual resumes, I hope to see more women in enterprise filling the current gap and levelling the entrepreneurial playing field.”

“The age of entrepreneurialism is decreasing, with under 30s now at the helm of four out of ten businesses, versus 30 per cent three years ago.”

“In line with this, opportunities for young entrepreneurs need to begin in schools, with extra support and encouragement given to young women to counteract the Covid regression.”


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Alison Simpson
About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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