‘More women are starting businesses than men – this is cultural progress that we must support’


The effects of this are seen in the new data, which suggests that female-led businesses have been less likely to recover from the impact of the pandemic, although Rose says there has been a net gain in female businesses despite this.

“This is a real moment to make sure we don’t lose focus,” she says, radiating enthusiasm. “We need to really push on to make sure more happens.”

Behind her, an expansive window offers breathtaking views over the City. But, like millions of others, Rose switched to working from home during lockdown: “Running a bank from my dining room, working 16, 17 or 20-hour days [with] both my children at home.”

While doing her job remotely, she was also helping her son and daughter, now 14 and 19, access schoolwork online. Which, she points out, is a challenge so many parents – but especially mothers – had to face. (Rose stresses she is “very lucky I have an incredibly supportive husband who was there”.)

The original Rose Review found female entrepreneurs were disproportionately affected by family care responsibilities: women were twice as likely as men to mention these as a barrier to starting a business before the pandemic. 

But as the country embraced a new way of working, there were also positives for female entrepreneurs, says Rose. While networking was identified in 2019 as an issue for women (women were less likely than men to know other entrepreneurs or to have access to sponsors, mentors or professional support networks), the normalisation of connecting with others remotely has made things easier for some.

“[Previously] there would be events in a hotel at 8pm and frankly they weren’t in a form that were accessible,” says Rose. “During the pandemic, what has been incredibly helpful is everything has gone online.” 

She notes that the growth of new female businesses has occurred not only in London (where almost 50,000 were launched in 2021) but across the country. The North West and West Midlands have also seen high rates of female business growth (almost 15,000 and almost 14,000 new female-led businesses respectively last year).

If the original Rose Review review highlighted the need for cultural change, the explosion in young female entrepreneurs would seem to suggest that some of this has been taking place. Visibility is important, notes Rose, and the fact there has been more visibility of female entrepreneurship helps show “it’s a really valid career” for young women.

“In the younger generation a lot of them are doing side hustles all the time,” she says. “So the fact that more young girls and more women are choosing entrepreneurship is a great sign of cultural progress and now we really have to make sure we put the support behind them so they can succeed.” 


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