Leeds’ Female Entrepreneurs Boost Economy

Leeds’ women-led businesses contributed £102m to the UK’s economy and created an additional 5,300 jobs in 2015, according to new findings by NatWest.

The research, undertaken in partnership with Development Economics, revealed that female entrepreneurs in Leeds set up 3,700 businesses in 2015 alone. Across Yorkshire female entrepreneurs contributed £230m. The number of businesses launched by women in Leeds lags only slightly behind Manchester where 5,200 businesses were created by female entrepreneurs. London saw the highest rate of new businesses at 33,200.

Collectively 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:
1. Canada 13.5%
2. USA 9.2%
3. Netherlands 7.3%
4. Singapore 7.2%
5. Sweden 4.9%
6. UK 4.7%
7. Germany 3.3%
8. Italy 2.8%

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.

Lisa Ford, Regional Director of Commercial Banking at NatWest, said: “We know entrepreneurs are vital to the economy, and it’s fantastic to see just how much women contribute in Leeds and across the country, 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.”

Ellie MacDonald founded PR agency MacComms in 2015. With a decade of experience in communications and marketing, she was determined to create a business which not only provided effective PR but fit her personal ethos of doing business with integrity. MacComms currently employs three full-time staff and is looking to recruit further in the coming months.

Ellie said: “I started the business because I wanted to control my own destiny. What is essential to me is treating people right and this is at the heart of everything we do. I’m passionate about what I do and not afraid to work long hours to make a success of things, and I think a lot of entrepreneurs have a similar work ethic. You need commitment and dedication build any business.”