Women Are Struggling with Set-Up Barriers

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Byline: By Marcella Maxwell

A new report reveals a big drop in the number of Welsh women starting up new businesses. Chwarae Teg chief executive Marcella Maxwell asks what can be done to encourage women to fulfil their potential as entrepreneurs

THIS week an authoritative survey revealed that the number of women involved in enterprise in Wales has fallen for the first time in six years.

Disturbingly, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) study - a joint research project between the University of Glamorgan and Cardiff University - found that there has been a 20% decrease in entrepreneurial activity among women, and that the gender gap between male and female entrepreneurial activity has widened in the last couple of years.

The report's authors concluded that if we had the same proportion of women involved in new business ventures as men, then almost 30,000 new businesses would have been created in Wales last year.

It is our view that this would have made a significant impact on wealth creation and helped reduce economic inactivity, both key objectives of the Welsh Assembly Government's new consultation strategy, Wales: A Vibrant Economy.

The findings of the GEM study reinforce Chwarae Teg's view that much remains to be done to increase the rate of female entrepreneurial activity in Wales, which currently stands at about a third of male activity.

Chwarae Teg believes that, given the emphasis on promoting enterprise among women in Wales, these latest findings are a cause for serious concern.

Women have the potential to make a significant contribution to the economy through business but it is clear that barriers continue to exist that make it difficult for women to fulfil their economic potential.

An obvious barrier is the dilemma faced by all working mothers; how to juggle family commitments with the long hours necessary in the early stages of setting up a new business. Responsibility for looking after children or arranging childcare lies with 80% of women, compared with 17% of men.

Another key factor for the gap identified between male and female business start-up rates is the ability to access finance. Chwarae Teg has recently undertaken research into the continued difficulty women have - both perceived and actual - in accessing finance. …