Call for better support for female entrepreneurs with third of Scots SMEs believing male-owned firms have better access to debt funding

More than a third of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Scotland believe debt funding is more widely available to male-owned businesses, according to research by independent asset-manager Boost&Co.

The firm said the Geared for Growth report, which surveyed 500 business-leaders across the UK, also revealed that 34.6 per cent of companies north of the Border hold the incorrect view that if a traditional bank rejects a debt funding application, it is unlikely that any other lender will accept it.

The same proportion of Scottish business leaders agreed with the statement that debt funding is more widely available to companies owned by men, a view Boost&Co said was also particularly prevalent in South-east England.

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The asset-manager stated that although debt funding is available to all eligible businesses, there is still a prevalent gender funding gap in the UK whereby women are likely to encounter more obstacles when trying to obtain backing.

The firm also cited research by The Gender Index finding that women-led firms in the UK disproportionately attract less investment than those led by men, despite the fact that women are starting more companies than ever before. Boost&Co also pointed out further research showing that male-owned businesses receive seven times more funding than those owned by women.

Additionally, 46 per cent of business-leaders in Scotland believe debt funding is more widely available to businesses that have been established for longer, which Boost&Co said is not necessarily the case.

Awareness

Boost&Co cited research finding that male-owned businesses receive seven times more funding than those owned by women (file image). Picture: contributed.

Joanna Scott, MD of Boost&Co, says the research highlights how more clarity is needed regarding the debt funding process and eligibility criteria, “and relay the fact that debt funding is much more accessible than many businesses believe it to be”.

She continued: “More support is needed for female and ethnic-minority founders to change the perception that funding is less widely available to these groups. We must work to identify and remove the barriers to applying for and receiving funding and look at why some female-owned businesses may be more reluctant to pursue debt funding as an option.

“In today’s funding landscape, the opportunities for businesses seeking funding support are ever increasing, regardless of how long they have been established and how profitable they may be.”

Boost&Co in April said it had found that growth optimism among Scotland’s SMEs was high, despite recent challenges.

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