Female freelancers could boost economy by £10bn

Friday 27 May 2016

The gender balance among freelancers is becoming more and more equal, with women getting into self-employment at an impressive pace. However, there is still not complete balance between males and females, and recent research suggests that solving this problem could be the key to generating billions for the UK economy.

Research from social media giant Facebook, conducted by Development Economics and YouGov, has found that one in ten women would like to start their own business. This equates to around 2.7 million potential female entrepreneurs. So, what is stopping these women from taking the plunge and becoming a contractor or setting up a limited company?

There are a few different reasons. A quarter (24 per cent) of these budding businesswomen said they don't have the appropriate business skills, while 34 per cent were worried about accessing the necessary finances. Another 37 per cent said they were just not ready to start a business.

Most people would agree this is a shame, but Facebook sees it as a huge missed opportunity for the UK. It has calculated that the British economy would be boosted by a huge £10.01 billion if these women started their businesses.

Even if just one in five manage to set up a company, the result would be 340,000 new businesses, creating around 425,000 new jobs. As such, Facebook believes there is a definite need to break down the barriers preventing women from being self-employed.

In some cases, it may simply be a case of making sure successful entrepreneurs get the attention they deserve. Over 70 per cent of the women surveyed said they could not name a female role model running a similar business to the one they would like to set up, which can give off the impression that a sector is a 'man's world' and put them off joining it.

Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: "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."

Facebook is launching an initiative to help turn this tide and bring more women into business. Ms Mendelsohn said: "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."

By Victoria McDonnell

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