Women-led businesses are driving force of the UK economy
8 Mar 2019

Founders4Schools reveals research to mark International Women’s Day and calls upon female leaders to inspire the next generation in the classroom and through work placements

Women-led businesses contributed a sensational £27.3 billion in turnover to the UK economy over the course of 2018, a research report by ed-tech charity Founders4Schools shows.

The report, which maps performance of the fastest-growing women-led businesses across the UK, with a turnover of £1 million to £250 million, reveals that 44% of women-led businesses grew at a rate of 20%; and 21% grew at an incredible rate of 50% or more, over the last year.

For the fourth year, Founders4Schools has combined key financial performance indicators from open datasets (LinkedIn and DueDil), to map the performance of these women-led businesses, showing women in the driving seat of high-growth, dynamic businesses in every corner of the UK - spanning sectors as diverse as Agriculture, Manufacturing, Information and Communication, Quarrying and Transportation.

This exciting data is being released by Founders4Schools to coincide with International Women’s Day. Read the full report here: https://www.founders4schools.org.uk/insights/women/

In addition to showing the continued growth of these businesses, the data highlights the diversity of women-led companies and how businesses with balanced leadership deliver a higher return on investment. The report finds that in certain heavily male-dominated industries, women-led businesses outperform overall industry averages.

For example, in Construction - an industry experiencing overall decline over the past year - women-led companies showed turnover growth of almost 24 per cent. With women poised to succeed in sectors most affected by automation (1), this could be an upward trend - especially given levels of predicted disruption in the construction industry.

With such a thriving ecosystem for growth, there really are no limits for girls growing up in the UK.

The report also highlights why female representation is important, stating that women represent a hugely overlooked and underestimated market. Female purchasing power in the UK is huge, with women thought to influence anywhere between 65% and 75% of all household purchasing decisions. On the flip side, 83% of deals that UK Venture Capitalists (VCs) made last year had no women at all on the founding teams, signalling an absurd amount of missed opportunity. (2)

The UK Government previously reported that boosting female entrepreneurship could boost the economy by up to £180 million. This 2019 analysis shows it’s no longer good enough for VCs to say there are no women out there to invest in, because there are no shortage of women-led businesses generating exceptional returns.

Sherry Coutu CBE, Founder and Chairman of Founders4Schools, said, “Every day – but on International Women’s Day in particular – we want every girl to know that there are no barriers to what they might do with their lives, we want every mayor and every reporter to know who the women in business are behind their great cities, and we want every teacher to know which women-led businesses are near to their schools.”

Coutu said that this year’s Founders4Schools analysis of the women-led businesses available over their service was particularly pleasing as these businesses enjoy a median annual growth of 17% – and that turnover has increased, on average, by £1 million in the past year.

As a serial entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist, Coutu said that the mission of Founders4Schools is to improve society by preparing girls and boys for the future of work. “We worry that over the next decade, when more than one billion young people will enter the global labour market, only 40% will be in jobs that currently exist. Our services ensure that young people easily get encounters with employers in their classrooms while they are between the ages of 6 and 16 and that they also easily get work experience with employers between the ages of 16 and 24,” Coutu said, adding that to date, Founders4Schools had facilitated 830,616 student-employer encounters.

Coutu called on business leaders to use their power to transform lives: “Please join me today by signing up to Founders4Schools and Workfinder. There is a huge opportunity for us to cement in the legacy that women in businesses create for young people. Together, we can show girls that #BalanceforBetter is not just one day, but an operating model for their working lives.”