Supporting female founder initiatives across the UK & Ireland

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Women who lead growing businesses: a survey

BGF exists to support businesses in the growth economy, meaning companies that have outgrown early-stage funding but have not yet reached the scale of large, listed companies.

We are proud to support many female-run businesses. In 2020, BGF investments were made into female-led companies in the technology, clean growth, life sciences and retail sectors, while introductions made by our Talent Network helped place 11 women on the boards of BGF-backed businesses.

To mark International Women’s Day, we are publishing the results of a survey of women who lead growth economy companies, which were defined for the purposes of the research as those with at least 20 employees and a turnover of £2 million or more.

These women are executives, board members, senior managers, owners and partners of businesses. They are based all across the UK and work in every major sector of the economy. They are the female entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of the growth economy, helping to lead a new generation of small and mid-sized businesses.

Download the report


Highlights of the survey:

  • 72% of those surveyed are motivated to grow their business this year;
  • 46% said Covid-19 has presented opportunities for growth (compared with 39% for men);
  • six in ten said that the pandemic has triggered permanent changes to their business models;
  • female respondents were more likely than their male counterparts to be entering new sectors (26% compared to 20%);
  • 89% said their business had made some form of internal investment during Covid-19, including digital infrastructure (39%) and entering new sectors (35%).

A long way to go

BGF is keen to support female entrepreneurs and play our part in closing the gender funding gap. Research from the US has suggested female founders may be 63% less likely than men to get funding for their ventures, a finding that suggests female-run businesses are being denied access to vital growth capital.

This is a problem not only for female founders, but a missed opportunity for investors. Here at BGF, we were proud to be the leading investor in female-led scale-up businesses last year, according to research from the Scale Up Institute, but we recognise there is still a long way to go.

To help increase investment in female-run businesses, we are working with Coutts, the private banking arm of NatWest, to launch The UK Enterprise Fund to bring additional funding and support to entrepreneurs across the UK, with specific initiatives and programmes for female-led businesses.

In 2020, we hosted our first investment workshop for female founders. Among the topics discussed was gender bias among investors, the skills needed to ‘think like an investor’ and the ways in which investors and entrepreneurs can help to close the gap in funding facing female founders. BGF will host several more investment workshops for female entrepreneurs in the months ahead.

The female growth economy report is based on a survey of business leaders at growth economy companies, published at the end of 2020.


BGF Insights 03.05.2021