Women in business statistics: 2024

How many businesses in the UK are owned by women?

We look at the latest statistics on women in business in the UK, including the number of company leaders and decision-makers, access to funding and business loans and the top female-led sectors in the UK.

Women in business statistics: Highlights

  • Almost 1 in 5 UK companies (18%) are led by women in 2024, more than 880,000.
  • Over 150,000 new all-women-led companies were founded in 2022, more than any year previously.
  • 3 in 4 female business owners (74%) anticipate revenue growth in 2024.
  • In the UK, the insolvency rate is 70% higher in male-run companies.
  • On average, a female-founded business receives £763,000 in funding compared to £4.7 million for a male-owned company.
  • £250 billion could be added to the UK economy if women matched men in receiving business investment.
  • The average loan approved for women-led businesses is £174,000, around a third of the average of £507,000 approved for businesses led by men.
  • 1 in 3 female business owners (33%) cite feelings of low self-confidence as a challenge.
  • As of 2023, around 1 in 7 presidents (16%) at the largest listed companies in the UK are women and 2 in 5 board members (42.5%) are women.

What percentage of businesses are owned by women?

Almost 1 in 5 (18%) companies in the UK are led by women in 2024, more than 880,000, including 7.5% ethnic minority female-led companies. Meanwhile, almost two-thirds of companies in the UK (65%) are male-led and more than 1 in 7 (15%) are mixed.

What percentage of entrepreneurs are female?

In 2022, women in the UK founded over 150,0000 new companies, making up 1 in 5 incorporations (20%). This is more than in any previous year and more than double the number founded in 2018, suggesting that the number of female entrepreneurs in the UK is on the rise.

The gender funding gap

According to data from 2023, men receive 6.2x more funding than women. While a female-founded business receives £763,000 in funding on average, a male-owned organised will receive a whopping £4.7 million!

The Rose Review, an independent study, found that £250 billion could be added to the UK economy if women matched men in receiving investments for new businesses.

There is a similar picture when it comes to applying for business loans, according to a report by the British Business Bank. In 2022, the average loan amount approved for male-led businesses was £507,000, while the loan amount approved for female-led businesses was just £174,000.

Year Male-owned business Female-owned business
2022 4340000 620000
2023 4700000 763300

How many women-owned businesses fail?

External research has found that companies led by men are more like to fail than those led by women. In the UK, the insolvency rate is up to 40% higher in male-run companies, according to a study of companies in 2021-2022.

Women in key decision-making positions

In the UK, data shows that more than two-fifths (42.5%) of board members at the largest listed companies are women as of 2023. This is higher than the average across the European Union and the UK, which sits at just over a third (34.7%).

Around 1 in 7 presidents (16%) at the largest listed companies in the UK are women. This is almost double the average across the EU and the UK, which sits at 8.7% as of 2023.

What are the top female-led sectors in the UK?

You can find the highest percentage of female-led businesses in the health, wellbeing and social care sector, where 2 in 5 (40%) of companies are headed up by women. This is the only sector where there are more businesses led exclusively by women than businesses led by men.

Other sectors high up on the list, where more than two-thirds of companies are led by women, include education (35.4%) and public health and safety services (35%).

At the other end of the spectrum is the energy sector, where just 1 in 20 companies (5%) are led by women. Construction is not far behind, with 6% of companies female-led. Other sectors with a notably low proportion of businesses led by women include mining and quarrying (7%), water and waste services (8%) and financial services (9%).

Sector % female-led % male-led % mixed
Service sector 31.18 55.4 11.85
Household employers 33.11 50.59 14.36
Public health and safety services 35.03 50.79 12.72
Education 35.37 47.37 15.86
Health, wellbeing and social care 40 38.92 18.75

Which region has the highest proportion of female-led companies?

London has the highest proportion of female-led companies out of UK regions at 19.8%. However, it’s important to note that London also has the highest total number of companies at almost 1.4 million. The West Midlands also has a higher percentage of businesses led by women, at 19.1%, as well as the North West at 18.1%.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland is in last place, with just 14.7% of companies led by women. However, it’s worth noting that Northern Ireland also has the lowest overall companies at just over 77,000, so it seems that where there are more businesses, there are more opportunities for those to be led by women.

Region Percentage of women-led companies
London 19.78%
West Midlands 19.15%
North West 18.10%
South East 17.70%
East Midlands 17.61%
East of England 17.40%
Yorkshire and The Humber 17.13%
Wales 16.96%
Scotland 16.85%
South West 16.70%
North East 16.19%
Northern Ireland 14.65%

Which generation has the most female-led companies?

Women in younger generations are more likely to lead a company than their counterparts in older generations. 21% of companies led by millennials and generation Z are led by women. This is slightly lower in generation X, where 17% of companies are female-led, and lower still among boomers and the silent generation, with 14% of companies female-led.

What are the top issues impacting female business owners?

External factors

Inflation was a big obstacle for female business owners in 2023, with almost 2 in 5 (38%) saying that had experienced challenges as a result of rising inflation. A quarter of women (25%) also faced challenges from high energy costs, and similarly, a quarter (25%) found they had difficulty accessing finance.

Personal factors

As well as economic issues having an impact, female business owners also have internal struggles to overcome. A third of female business owners (33%) had feelings of low self-confidence, while a quarter (26%) faced the challenge of not being taken seriously as a business owner.

Factor Percentage of female business owners impacted
Inflation 38%
Energy costs 25%
Difficulty accessing finance 25%
High interest rates 16%
Lack of self confidence 33%
Not being taken seriously as a business owner 26%
Lack of help with caring responsibilities 23%
Health issues 20%
Menopause symptoms 18%
Childcare costs 13%

Are women optimistic about the success of their business?

Although women in business face challenges, they are also determined to see success for their companies. Three-quarters of female business owners (74%) anticipate revenue growth in 2024 and almost 1 in 5 (18%) expect significant growth.

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact

Matt Mckenna
UK Communications Manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806

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