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Facebook: Women have power to create £10.1bn for UK economy by 2020

By not supporting British women who want to start a business, the UK is missing out on a £10.1bn economic boost, according to research from Facebook. As such, it's teamed with the Federation of Small Businesses and British Chambers of Commerce to bring females into enterprise.
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In partnership with Development Economics and YouGov, the social network revealed that there are 2.7m women – one in ten – who want to start their own enterprise.

And if just a fifth were given the support to embrace entrepreneurship, the economy would benefit from a £10.1bn boost, 340,000 new businesses and 425,000 new jobs by the end of 2020.

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Poor self-belief is the main barrier, the study found. Stating the things preventing them from getting up and running, 37 per cent said not feeling ready, 25 per cent said lack of confidence and 24 per cent said they feel they miss the right business skills. The trend continues and reaches women in their 50s.

Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA at Facebook, said: “There’s nothing small about small business. They are an important part of the UK economy. We all know someone who runs one – a family friend, neighbour, someone you went to school with – but only a fifth are currently set up by women.

“Women make up half the population, they make effective business leaders and unbelievable entrepreneurs, so it’s shocking that more aren’t part of the UK’s small business community today.”

Alarmingly, 72 per cent of women said they couldn’t identify a female role model operating in the field they’d like to enter. A common issue for many founders, 34 per cent of respondents said access to finance was a problem.

Of course, Facebook has been keen to drive businesses to its social network, as we experienced first-hand during its SME Bootcamp last year. The company has only continued to keep promoting its enterprise focus since then.

Read more on Facebook for business:

The research from Facebook suggested that women are comfortable when it comes to embracing the social network for growing a community of customers, however – women-owned SME pages on the platform grew 70 per cent between 2014 and 2015.

“Based on what we’re seeing from the Facebook community, we believe we have an opportunity to help more women. So today we’re kick-starting an effort called SheMeansBusiness to help more women turn their great ideas into thriving businesses,” Mendelsohn continued.

“We’re calling on all the brilliant friends, amazing mums, determined wives, and grandmothers with an idea to realise their potential and help inspire others to do the same.”

To help get started, 56 per cent feel of women feel that more digital awareness would be the way forward. Of course, Real Business has spent the past several months working with Microsoft to highlight 30 traditional operations – food, shoes, travel – that have embraced tech for growth as part of the Digital Champions initiative.

Elsewhere, 41 per cent said skills workshops would be useful, 39 per cent believe guidance on bringing in customers is what they need to know and 35 per cent are looking for a support.

To get the job done, Facebook is working with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the British Chambers of Commerce to support women in enterprise.

Sandra Dexter, national vice chair of the FSB, said: “The world of business is changing. There is now a record number of UK smaller businesses and the self-employed, and at FSB we have seen more and more women set themselves up in business and join us.

“I’m delighted that FSB is working with Facebook on SheMeansBusiness, a campaign which will be a real boost for female entrepreneurship.”

Here’s one female entrepreneur who really means business, as she’s creating opulence for royals, celebrities and billionaires with architecture.

Concerned with issues surrounding gender diversity in business? Don’t miss the Real Business First Women programme:

Drawing on years of the First Women movement and the phenomenal network of pioneering women the Awards has created, this programme features The First Women Awards and The First Women Summit  designed to educate, mentor and inspire women in all levels of business.

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About Author

Zen Terrelonge

Zen Terrelonge is the deputy editor of Real Business, specialising in media, innovation, technology and the digital sector. A media professional with eight years worth of experience he has worked for both startup and established publications.

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