Bristol and Sheffield have been revealed as the best cities for female entrepreneurs, with 39% of female business leaders in Bristol reporting growth for their enterprises in the past 12 months and 38% in Sheffield.
The findings come from the latest wave of research from Yorkshire Bank, part of CYBG plc, which takes into account the attitudes and opinions of 2,000 small business owners and entrepreneurs from a range of sectors in the UK’s 10 largest cities.
Looking ahead, female leaders in Leeds were the most optimistic about the future, with 43% that expected growth this year. London comes second at 40%, despite being the city where women experienced the least growth in 2018 (31%), showing the ambition of business leaders in the capital.
However, female entrepreneurs are less optimistic about growth in general than their male counterparts. The research finds that 34% of women were planning to grow their business during the course of 2019, compared to 42% of men. There are three cities that buck this trend: in Birmingham, it’s 28% of women vs 25% of men, in Leeds it’s 43% of women vs 42% of men and Glasgow reveals an even split with 35% for both.
Despite female entrepreneurs having a less optimistic outlook overall, those based in Leicester are the most likely to recommend their city to their peers at 78%, followed closely by Leeds (77%), Manchester and Glasgow (75%). Recommendations were based on factors including the overall sense of business community, availability of partners and suppliers, and the talent pool.
The research hints that one of the reasons for the growth gap could be unequal access to funding. Only 24% of women report they find it easy to access funding for growth, compared to 32% for men.
Due to this, women-led businesses run the risk of focusing on more local or regional opportunities: 60% of female entrepreneurs operate on a local or regional scale, vs 54% for male business owners.