The Telegraph has launched an editorial campaign calling on the Government to better support female entrepreneurs with an open letter signed by 200 business leaders, MPs and academics.
Women Mean Business, which launched on International Women’s Day, will tell positive stories about successful female entrepreneurs, investigating the funding gap, and looking at the world of start-ups.
Within 24 hours of the ongoing campaign’s launch, the Government has ordered the first ever “serious review” into the funding gap preventing women from becoming business leaders in Britain.
To kickstart its campaign, The Telegraph published an eight-page supplement outlining the problems facing female entrepreneurs as it said women are at a distinct disadvantage through start-up sexism.
It featured a column by Lord Hague on why men must join women in the fight for equality and interviews with high profile businesswomen, including Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts, on the setbacks they overcame during their careers.
Allister Heath, editor of The Sunday Telegraph and The Telegraph’s head of business, said: “Women being placed at a significant disadvantage when wishing to set up their own businesses is an issue which cannot be ignored in modern society.
“The Telegraph’s Women Mean Business campaign aims to play a crucial role in shining a light on this inequality and make a genuine difference in closing the funding gap.”
Signatories of the open letter, which was published in The Telegraph, include Samantha Cameron, Nicky Morgan MP, Stella Creasy MP, celebrity retail consultant Mary Portas and model and presenter Alexa Chung.
It quoted figures that one in eight working women in the UK want to start their own business, but just 9 per cent of funding for UK start-ups goes to female-run businesses each year.
Research conducted on behalf of The Telegraph found that 65 per cent of female business owners have found themselves not being taken seriously by banks and investors when setting up their business.
The letter said: “No doubt there will be complex reasons for the disparity, but the figures clearly show a funding gap – one that we believe needs to be addressed at government level.
“With Brexit on the horizon, it has never been more important to back British businesses. Deloitte estimates that targeted help for early stage women entrepreneurs could provide a £100bn boost to the UK economy over the next ten years.
“This Government pledged to be the party of ‘enterprise and of the entrepreneur’. We urge it to back up those words with deeds and to invest in resources that will help to close this funding gap.”
Claire Cohen, editor of Telegraph Women, said: “In a year which has marked 100 years since the Representation of the People Act, it is a fitting tribute that The Telegraph is launching this campaign.
“There is still work to be done to achieve full equality and this is something which can benefit not just women but the whole British economy.”
Picture: The Telegraph