Women-led businesses are 'driving force' of UK economy
7 Mar 2016

In a global first, new research shows UK companies led by women grow, perform and rank

4 March, 2016. London, UK. Sherry Coutu, Martha Lane Fox, Joanna Shields, Anya Hindmarch, Neelie Kroes and  Reid Hoffman and are amongst the world-leading entrepreneurs and business leaders welcoming ground-breaking new service to celebrate International Women’s Day.

 In a global first, new analysis - based on open-government and LinkedIn data-sets - reveals how companies led by women grow, perform and rank - identifying the fastest-growing and most dynamic women-led businesses across the UK.  

 This is the first time local interactive cluster maps all across the country have been created showing the location of growing business led by women with £1 Million to  £250 Million in revenue.

 No other country has ever produced such detailed insight, a clear indicator that the UK is the best place in the world for ambitious women to scale-up their global business operations.  

 Such in-depth analysis will also give the UK the competitive edge over other nations as it allows homegrown companies to improve their visibility and appeal - and subsequently secure the talent, support and finance they need to flourish.


See infographic here


The new research, compiled by Founders4Schools, the ed-tech charity that brings business leaders into schools to unlock the employability of young people, is supported by Doteveryone, the national organisation founded by Martha Lane Fox to rebuild Britain for the Networked Age and by Silicon Valley comes to the UK, a programme now run out of London & Partners to support scale-ups.  


  • 762 women-led companies with revenues between £ 1M - £250 Million are expanding at a Median Growth Rate of 30% percent a year. 453 (59.4%) are growing by 20% or more and 281 (37%) are growing by 50% or more.
  • The total revenues they together accounted for increased by nearly £ 2 billion from the last year.  This was a median annual revenue increase per woman-led company of £ 900,000
  • The average revenue of women-led businesses was £ 12 Million pounds and on average, this was £ 2.3 Million more than the previous year.
  • 11% of businesses are women-led and the proportion of women led-businesses increases as the size of the businesses increases and as the growth rate of the businesses increases, compared to businesses overall.
  • The Tech Sector accounts for 517 of the 762 (67 %)  women-led businesses with 300 (58%)  of the businesses 20% per annum and 188 (35%) of the businesses growing 50% or more per annum.

  • After Greater London with 273 women-led businesses (led by Camden with 44), Leeds is a stand out city with 43 women-led companies, followed by Enterprise M3 and the South East, home to 29 women-led companies each.   
  • Fast-growing women-led companies present in all regions of the UK, with 68 percent headquartered outside London.  Scottish women-led companies are growing revenues at a median annual rate of 30 percent


Sherry Coutu CBE, Chair of Founders4Schools & Author of the Scale-up Report said: “We are delighted to celebrate these women who are making a major contribution to UK economic growth.  I hope by literally, putting them on the map they will find it easier to find the talent to hire to fill all those orders their customers are placing with them. I am hopeful that this will help them to attract the talent they need to fulfill the huge pipeline of customer orders they need, I am hopeful that this may also help them with their international expansion plans and perhaps even financing.

I set up Founders4Schools to inspire young people to consider starting their own businesses.  I love the examples set by women like Anya Hindmarch, Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne at Genius Foods, Julie Deane from Cambridge Satchel Company and Kathryn Parsons from Decoded. The fact that we now have 762 examples available to inspire the next generation of girls about the impact they can also have on the world is very exciting.


Commenting on the data findings, Martha Lane Fox, Founder of Doteveryone said: “Whilst the data shows the tech sector accounts for (67 %) women-led businesses in the UK, there is so much more to be done. Women currently occupy just 17% of tech jobs and make up only 3% of partners in venture capital firms. Fewer than 1 in 10 of these women are in leadership positions within the sector and, perhaps most shockingly, women only hold 4% of software engineers”.

“On a global scale, its cited that women entrepreneurs are poised to lead the next wave of growth in tech, and the high-tech companies women build are more capital-efficient than the norm. If the UK is to leapfrog every other nation on this planet to become the most digital, most connected, most skilled and most informed on the planet - we urgently need to address the gender imbalance within the tech sector and ensure that our leaders, investors and entrepreneurs come from the widest pool of home-grown talent. This amazing new open data from Founders4schools will support those brilliant women who are helping drive the UK economy and will enable us to foster the maximum breadth and depth of digital talent that the UK has to offer”.


Internet Safety and Security Minister Baroness Shields said: "I am delighted that we now have the ability to identify and track the growth of female led businesses as a result of the UK government’s open data policy. This report confirms that women-led business leadership contributes immensely to growth and innovation right across the UK and I commend these women and their organisations for making a significant impact on our economy.”


Also supporting the availability of this new data was Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK, who said: “I am encouraged to see women in leadership positions all across the UK. If we are to ensure economic growth, Women, no matter where they live, must have the opportunity to take on senior roles. Job creation is not and must not be limited to London. We need to drive productivity right across the UK.”


Xavier Rolet, CEO, London Stock Exchange Group commented: “We have been long and vocal advocates of building a diverse economy; one constructed on a foundation of vibrant SMEs led by, and employing, as diverse a cross-section of the public as possible. That’s why we are so keen to support important initiatives and research such as this which demonstrate the huge benefits that dynamic, women-led organisations are bringing to the UK economy. As a community, we must continue to do more to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurism in young people across the country, to help create the next generation of British founders and business leaders.”



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