Report 6 - Gendered Financial Challenges for Disadvantaged Women Entrepreneurs: Insights from France and England

Xing Huang, Zoe Dann

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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This report is a helpful resource for finance and banking institutions that want to understand the challenges that disadvantaged women entrepreneurs face and how it affects their access to finance. It can be used with awareness-raising training and resources to help bridge the financial lending gap between men and women entrepreneurs. The report provides insights into the experiences of disadvantaged women entrepreneurs and aims to create a more equitable and inclusive lending landscape through collaborations with these entrepreneurs.

The Accelerating Women’s Enterprise (AWE) programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, was created to research and support women entrepreneurs facing further disadvantages in their early start-up or with their struggling businesses. Initially, the plan was to conduct Participatory Action Research with women entrepreneurs, but only one financial institution confirmed their participation, leading the AWE programme to pivot to create this awareness-raising resource.

The report is based on 159 interviews conducted with disadvantaged women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ecosystem stakeholders in France and England, as well as two focus groups in England. It highlights several challenges faced by these entrepreneurs, such as:

• Implicit bias e.g. lenders not taking them seriously as single parents, young or disabled, needing their husband to build their credibility;
• Poor credit history e.g. due to needing part-time work, career breaks, child care costs,
disadvantages of health and age;
• Women’s self-selected avoidance e.g. due to perceived risks, lack of trust in
lending decisions;
• Lack of financial literacy and awareness of support due to lack of professional
• Inflexible government support where benefits can disincentivize business growth;
• External economic shocks e.g. challenges from COVID-19 and the cost of living crisis placing a greater burden and need on financing
• Staff training and development in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) for the
finance and banking sector to better understand the needs of women entrepreneurs who experience disadvantages;
• Alternative financing modes and awareness-raising of those mechanisms from
both traditional and alternative lenders;
• Trust building through greater transparency in lending decisions, loan decision rates and greater hiring of women in the industry;
• Education, outreach and collaborations with banks and lenders to enhance networks and financial literacy;
• Recognition of the need for specific support for women’s businesses and those
experiencing further disadvantage during times of economic crisis.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherAccelerating Women’s Enterprise
Commissioning bodyEuropean Commission
Number of pages37
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023


  • finance
  • gender
  • female
  • women
  • disadvantage
  • disadvantaged entrepreneurship
  • equality, diversity and inclusion

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