In identifying key areas where the government should act decisively to ensure stability and growth, the Federation of Small Business, in its recently published report, argues that to cultivate growth and confidence women entrepreneurs should be a priority. The report stresses that women-owned businesses are an economic resource that has not yet been fully developed in the UK and recent figures provide compelling support.
In 2009, the UK Women's Enterprise Taskforce found that the contribution from women's enterprise to the UK economy was in the region of £130 billion turnover and £70 billion gross value added annually. Not only do women's businesses contribute a substantial amount to the economy but, during a time of rising unemployment, getting more women into employment - including self-employment - is vital.
In addition, it is acknowledged that women-run businesses would benefit enormously from better access to finance. However, just 20.3 per cent of businesses started with venture capital belong to female entrepreneurs. Of course, women entrepreneurs are not helped by the fact that less than five per cent of the business angels are women. Angel investors have historically provided much-needed equity finance, bridging the gap between bank finance and venture capital.
Naturally, understanding the needs and requirements as well as the particular ethos of a female investor, as well as the aspiring woman entrepreneur, requires experience, empathy and financial independence. One firm which specialises in this area is Addidi, a financial services boutique for women, their partners and families.
Addidi launched its Business Angel club for women in 2009 - Addidi Angels recruits 20 to 30 female investors, each of whom commit £20,000 to investing in small businesses. The Club takes a portfolio approach to angel investing - it made its first investment, appropriately in a female-owned business (Bluebella), in spring 2010 and finalised its second investment in January 2011. It is now undertaking due diligence on two further businesses. The members meet shortlisted businesses every quarter and decide which to invest in.