Cardiff’s women-led businesses contributed £23 million to the UK’s economy and created an additional 900 jobs in 2015, according to new findings by NatWest.
The research, undertaken in partnership with Development Economics, revealed that female entrepreneurs in Cardiff set up 800 businesses in 2015 alone. Across Wales, newly-established women-led start-ups contributed £118 million to the economy in 2015.
Female entrepreneurs contributed £3.15bn to the UK economy overall in 2015. However, despite a strong growth in female entrepreneurship overall since 2009, the number of women setting up a business in the UK still lags behind countries such as Canada and the US, costing the UK economy £1bn a year.
The research revealed that while the proportion of the UK’s female working population starting a business nearly doubled from 3.7% to 7.1% between 2009 and 2012, this has since tailed off, falling every year and standing at less than 5% in 2015.
This is supported by ONS data which shows the number of businesses started by women increased every year between 2006 and 2013 from 58,000 to 139,000, before falling to 116,000 in 2014 and to 126,000 in 2015.
If the UK had sustained 2012’s level of female entrepreneurship growth in subsequent years to reach the levels of its commonwealth counterpart Canada, the UK economy would have enjoyed an additional £1.35bn in 2015.
The proportional population percentage of new female entrepreneurs and women setting up a new business internationally is as follows:
- Canada 5%
- USA 2%
- Netherlands 3%
- Singapore 2%
- Sweden 9%
- UK 7%
- Germany 3%
- Italy 8%
Female entrepreneurs are central to the UK’s economy, setting up almost 1.2million business between 2002 and 2015. However, the study found that of all new businesses formed in 2015, around two thirds were set up by men, with women responsible for a third.
Jessica Shipman, NatWest’s director of commercial banking for Cardiff, said:
“We know entrepreneurs are vital to the Welsh economy, and it’s fantastic to see just how much women contribute, but it’s clear we need to do more to power this growth in the same way our global counterparts do.
“At NatWest we have created numerous roles within the bank that are dedicated to providing tailored support for women to start up and succeed in business. It’s not simply about starting up, but supporting through all the business life stages. From introductions to relevant organisations to tangible day-to-day support, we want to go beyond providing financial services and help female entrepreneurs achieve their business ambitions.”
Commenting on the research, Steve Lucas, managing director of Development Economics, said:
“Women are a vital part of the UK’s enterprise economy, so it’s positive to see the rate of female start-ups has been increasing as women respond to opportunities across a wide range of business sectors.
“However, the UK still lags behind the likes of the US and Canada, which have a much higher proportion of female entrepreneurs. In these nations the celebration of entrepreneurial qualities is something that is deeply embedded, whereas the UK has a reputation for being more risk-averse and in some cases having excessive red tape that might constrain entrepreneurship. If the UK is able to bolster its efforts to help female entrepreneurs, the opportunity for further economic growth is significant.”
Charlotte Simoes was working full-time as a beauty therapist when she started making bath bombs in her kitchen and selling them at craft fairs.
They proved so popular that she gave up her job and worked with a business support agency to learn about profit and loss, balance sheets and sales forecasts and to make industry contacts.
Eight years later and her company, Miss Patisserie, now manufactures its beauty products at a unit on Penarth Road, Cardiff, as well as having a shop in High Street Arcade.
Charlotte employs six staff and is currently negotiating a contract to supply skincare and gifts to a major high street retailer.
“In the beginning it was an absolute minefield because there is so much to learn, but it was all good fun,” said Charlotte. “I wake up every day and I can’t wait to go to work. Every single effort is for yourself, your family and your staff. It is really stressful sometimes, but so is any job.
“It’s a shame that the number of women starting their own business has been falling. I can understand why someone might be reluctant to do it, but I would recommend it. If you’re always thinking about doing it, if you’re able to raise finance from a bank or another source and if you can accurately predict your sales and know it’s going to work, then go for it. If you’re passionate and you persevere anyone can succeed.”