Number of women starting scale-ups rises by third

Fast-growing businesses founded or co-founded by women total 261

The number of fast-growing businesses founded or co-founded by women has risen 34.5 per cent since 2020, according to a ScaleUp Institute report.

The organisation’s Female Founder Index, using data from Beauhurst, reports there were 101 fast-growing companies – that is, businesses that have crossed £10.2m in turnover or £5.1m in assets –founded by a woman and a total of 261 including at least one female founder.

Collectively, these female-led businesses reported a turnover of £14bn – a further 41 per cent increase on 2020’s figure. They have also attracted £5bn in investment and employ close to 65,000.

Nearly four in ten of these scale-ups (companies with an average annual return of at least 20 per cent in the past three years) are five to 10 years old, with two in ten over 20 years old. The geographic distribution is diverse also, with 65 per cent based outside of London.

Some names in the index have been scaling continuously for the last five years, like fashion business ME+EM and gin makers Warner’s Distillery. They are joined by newcomers like pizza oven company Ooni and luxury skincare brand 111Skin.

The sectors which feature prominently include business and professional (42 per cent), industrials (22 per cent) and technology and life sciences (19 per cent).

We can expect to see further growth in future, too, with nine in ten reporting they are expecting growth in 2022 and three in ten expecting this to be over 50 per cent.

Catherine Lewis La Torre, CEO of the British Business Bank, said of the ScaleUp Institute report: “It is well known that diversity is good for business and that diverse businesses deliver better performance.

“Whilst there is clearly much more to do to level the playing field, I’m proud that the bank’s programmes continue to support female founders in scaling their businesses.”

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Dom Walbanke

Dom Walbanke

Dom is a feature writer for Growth Business and Small Business, focused on matters concerning start-ups and scale-ups. He has also been published in the Independent, FourFourTwo magazine and various lifestyle...

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