Report 2 - Good Practice and Opportunities: Evolution of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem for Disadvantaged Female Entrepreneurs

Ekoua J. Danho, Zoe Dann, Amy Doyle, Karen Johnston

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Women’s entrepreneurship represents untapped potential and unrealised economic assets for both the UK (Rose, 2019) and France. Women are, however, likely to be disadvantaged in their entrepreneurship due to the range of challenges that they face, which have been exacerbated by the Covid crisis. To unlock the value that women can bring to the economy, society, themselves and their families, an entrepreneurial ecosystem needs to be cultivated that encourages and supports women’s entrepreneurship, both generally and more specifically for disadvantaged groups of potential and actual female entrepreneurs.

In this study, ‘disadvantaged female entrepreneurs’ are women that experience additional challenges in starting and running their enterprises over and above their gender and that relate to their health, caring responsibilities, location, skills and education, income and economic status, ethnicity, migrant status and age. The Accelerating Women’s Enterprise (AWE) project, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Interreg Channel Region Fund, carried out in-depth interviews with 164 disadvantaged female entrepreneurs and stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystems that support entrepreneurs in both the UK and France. In their current form, these ecosystems are not yet a good fit with disadvantaged entrepreneurs and their businesses. After comparing the experiences of the entrepreneurs and the support delivered by the ecosystem, we recommend a focus on the following areas:

Addressing childcare making it affordable and accessible, particularly for women who are working at the margins of their incomes; Raising awareness of disadvantage -education and training for ecosystem stakeholders of the challenges that disadvantaged females face, including gender discrimination and unconscious bias; Accessing finance - greater provision of loans, investment and financial support to disadvantaged female entrepreneurs, and promotion of relevant funding offers across the ecosystem; Business support and training - better integration of research, training and educational provision for female entrepreneurs; Addressing bureaucracy - making services simple and user-friendly, and client-driven in design; Accessing the internet - providing e-skills and training to access information to support entrepreneurs’ businesses, and host them online. Making available laptop loan schemes, and subsidies for internet access. Creating digital coworking and learning spaces.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherAccelerating Women’s Enterprise
Commissioning bodyEuropean Union
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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