Half of women business owners turned down a loan, a survey found

Half of women entrepreneurs have been turned down for a loan to fund their new business – putting pressure on the government’s ambitions to boost Britain’s economy, new research says.

Some women entrepreneurs indicated that they were considered “part-time workers” because they have children or because they were perceived as less serious professionals than their male counterparts.

Around 53% of women in the UK admitted that limited access to finance has made starting their own business difficult, financial platform Tide found in a survey of its members.

Being denied access to finance or loans was seen as the main obstacle to successfully starting a business.

We may be viewed as part-time employees looking after our children, but we work hard to challenge these misconceptions

Samantha Senior, Founder of The Aesthetics Accountant

The challenges were even more pronounced for black women, with more than two-thirds of black women entrepreneurs finding the process challenging.

It highlighted the additional barriers faced by some minority ethnic women compared to just under half of the white and Indian women who said so.

The report also highlighted regional divisions, with businesswomen in Yorkshire and Humber and Scotland struggling to access finance more than any other region.

Across the UK, the survey found that half of women entrepreneurs who apply for a loan or investment to fund their new business are rejected.

Samantha Senior, the founder of an accounting firm for the medical aesthetics industry called The Aesthetic Accountants, said she’s struggling to access finance as a self-employed mother and after a blow during Covid.

She also highlighted that she encounters “traditional” views in the male-dominated accounting industry.

She said: “I myself and other women accountants have found that on occasion we still come across traditional views that accounting is a male-dominated industry.

“The perception of some established male accountants is that female professionals take the industry less seriously than their male counterparts.

“We can be viewed as part-time employees looking after our children, but we’re working hard to challenge those misconceptions.”

The results come even as the government is keen to boost economic growth and boost business investment at a time when the economy is stagnant.

The UK narrowly avoided a recession in the last three months of 2022, with gross domestic product (GDP) growing just 0.01% in the quarter.

Nonetheless, numerous financial firms have committed to improving women entrepreneurs’ chances of success when it comes to accessing critical finance.

Around 190 financial services institutions have signed the Investing in Women Code, which formally obliges companies to support companies founded by women.

Major lenders such as NatWest, Lloyds Bank, Barclays and Santander are all members of the code.

And a recent progress report from the Rose Review — an independent survey of women entrepreneurship led by NatWest Group CEO Dame Alison Rose — found that more women than ever have started businesses in 2022.

The data showed that 150,000 new businesses were formed during the year, more than ever before and more than double the number in 2018.

Additionally, Tide said it has worked with more than 100,000 women-owned businesses to help them get started.

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