Targeted help for early stage women entrepreneurs could provide a massive boost to Lancashire and the North West, according to a new report by professional services firm Deloitte.
The company says the move could bring a £100bn boost to the UK economy over the next ten years.
Currently, fewer than six per cent of working-age women are engaged in early stage entrepreneurial activity, compared to more than 10 per cent of men.
Increasing female participation in the sector to 10 per cent would take the overall economic contribution of women-led SMEs to more than £180bn by 2025.
Heather Crosby, partner at Deloitte in the North West, said: “Despite a substantial increase in the number of start-ups in the UK over the past five years, the proportion of working-age women engaged in early stage entrepreneurial activity has fallen over the same time period.
The longevity rates for businesses led by women have also been lower.
“While there are many fantastic examples of women-led start-ups, these statistics show that much of the potential remains untapped.”
The report, which was compiled for the Women’s Business Council, draws on findings from research and interviews with more than 20 successful female entrepreneurs from across the UK.
It seeks to establish the common barriers which prevent women from setting up and succeeding with their businesses and makes recommendations as to what could be done to promote greater success.
Ms Crosby added: “One of the barriers we identified to women setting up their own business was limited access to relevant role models, quality mentors and professional networks.
“These are vital.”