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Top UK cities for successful female entrepreneurship revealed

31st July 2019, 9:31 am

Manchester has been revealed as the third best city in the UK for female entrepreneurs, with 35% of female business leaders reporting growth for their enterprises in the past 12 months. Sheffield ranked second with 38% reporting growth and Bristol first with 39%.

The findings come from the latest wave of research from Yorkshire Bank, part of CYBG plc, which takes into account the attitudes and opinions of 2,000 small business owners and entrepreneurs from a range of sectors in the UK’s 10 largest cities.

Looking ahead, female leaders in Leeds were the most optimistic about the future, with 43% that expected growth this year. London comes second at 40%, despite being the city where women experienced the least growth in 2018 (31%), showing the ambition of business leaders in the capital.

However, female entrepreneurs are less optimistic about growth in general than their male counterparts. The research finds that 34% of women were planning to grow their business during the course of 2019, compared to 42% of men. There are three cities that buck this trend: in Birmingham, it’s 28% of women vs 25% of men, in Leeds it’s 43% of women vs 42% of men and Glasgow reveals an even split with 35% for both. In Manchester, 38% of women were planning to grow their business vs 46% of men.

Despite female entrepreneurs having a less optimistic outlook overall, those based in Leicester are the most likely to recommend their city to their peers at 78%, followed closely by Leeds (77%), with Manchester sitting third with Glasgow (75%). Recommendations were based on factors including the overall sense of business community, availability of partners and suppliers, and the talent pool.

The research hints that one of the reasons for the growth gap could be unequal access to funding. Only 24% of women report they find it easy to access funding for growth, compared to 32% for men. 30% of female leaders in Manchester revealed that they find it easy to access funding for growth, the highest of all the cities surveyed.

Due to this, women-led businesses run the risk of focusing on more local or regional opportunities: 60% of female entrepreneurs operate on a local or regional scale, vs 54% for male business owners.

Samantha Bedford, Head of New Ways of Working, CYBG, said “The business community is incredibly strong and supportive, particularly in the North, as shown by our recent event, The Festival of Technology & Innovation, in Manchester. One of the sessions was a lively panel discussion on diversity, which reinforced how the Northern business community helps each other to reach their growth goals, and I have no doubt that the North will continue along its positive path in the months ahead.”

“There are still disparities between male and female entrepreneurs on a national level. Our research has shown that a larger proportion of females are finding it difficult to receive the funding they need and that’s an area we can work on, to try and close the growth gap and support the wider ambitions they have for their businesses.”

Susanna Lawson CEO of Manchester tech firm, OneFile said: “As a female tech founder in Manchester I’m surprised Manchester isn’t top of the list! From my experience talking to women business owners, on the whole, they seem very positive about growth. There is a real appetite to scale up and plans in place to do so. Diversity in tech and in business in general is such an important subject and I was really pleased to see it at the forefront of the recent Yorkshire Bank Festival of Technology & Innovation event and participate as a panelist.”

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