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6 March, 2017 - 08:51 By Tony Quested

Women-led businesses a driving force in UK economy

Sherry Coutu

Cambridge entrepreneur Sherry Coutu today reveals groundbreaking figures underlining that women-led businesses are a major driving force in the UK economy with a huge payback in terms of jobs and revenue.

Coutu’s EdTech charity, Founders4Schools, has unveiled what she believes is the world’s first under-the-hood analysis – showing fast and high growth for companies steered by women entrepreneurs.

The annual revenue of women-led companies in the UK is growing at 28 per cent with an average turnover of £3.7 million, Coutu announced two days ahead of International Women’s Day.

The analysis is based on open-government and LinkedIn datasets comparing business leaders and company growth data. It reveals how companies led by women grow, perform and rank, identifying the fastest-growing and most dynamic women-led businesses across the UK.

Founders4Schools helps raise student aspirations by connecting them to inspirational business leaders creating jobs. It has compiled the data into live interactive maps, revealing the location of fast growth businesses led by women with revenues between £1m and £250m.

As well as showing the continued growth of these businesses, the data highlights the diversity of women-led companies. There were almost 900 (871) female-led businesses with revenue in this bracket in 2016 – a 14 per cent jump on last year.

The cumulative revenue added over £3 billion more to the UK economy than the previous year. The top 10 sectors include events, IT, computer software, insurance, recruitment and healthcare, and 66 per cent of the businesses are headquartered outside London.

Coutu said: “This International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate the impact that so many female business leaders are having on our economy.

“All around the country, women are creating jobs that drive our economy- and at the same time taking time out of their hectic schedules to support their community by helping in their local schools via Founders4Schools.

“Success is important, but seeing these business leaders standing up, holding their heads high and helping others, is an inspiration. I’m delighted that the research we are releasing highlights the extent to which women drive the growth in our economy and I could not be prouder that Founders4Schools is playing its part in helping students come into contact with these individuals as they explore possible career destinations provided by these women.”

To ensure the continued growth and economic impact of female-led businesses, Founders4Schools is launching a campaign to get more female founders into schools to inspire greater numbers of young women. Coutu will build on this message in addressing East of England executives at Business Weekly’s annual Awards dinner in Cambridge on March 22.

She plans to host several events across the country for female founders who already give up their time to speak at schools – starting this morning at the London Stock Exchange. As well as hosting two women only CEO summits focused on international expansion, Founders4Schools will also be encouraging all women playing a leading role in a growing business to sign up to founders4schools to ensure young girls are as inspired as the boys to start their own businesses and make serious contributions to the UK economy in the future.

Founders4Schools uses technology to make it easy and time efficient for teachers to connect students with local business leaders  to raise their students’ aspirations. To date, Founders4Schools has helped teachers all over the UK arrange over 124,000 student-employer encounters.

Coutu says that 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.”

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