New research has shown a strong appetite from female founders but access to finance is holding them back from scaling their businesses.

The survey commissioned by Edinburgh-based AccelerateHER – the female founders’ network – has shown 92 per cent of female founders believed their businesses were scalable.

But a worrying 50 per cent said they lacked the access to capital and two in five said accessing the right resources and guidance was a ‘challenge’.  

The survey canvassed the views of 316 female founders from all four home nations of the UK, with 52.1 per cent of those polled currently focused on scaling their businesses with nearly two in five 38.8 per cent keen to achieve growth on an international scale, and 41 per cent of respondents ‘actively seeking investment to grow their companies’.   

Well over half (58.5 per cent) said they were keen to grow their network and connect with other female founders or individuals who could support their business journey, and less than a third (29.7 per cent) of those polled cited self-doubt or lack of confidence in their abilities as a barrier to success.

Elizabeth Pirrie, CEO of AccelerateHER, said: “As we mark International Women’s Day, this comprehensive survey highlights the progress being made by female company founders across the UK. The findings challenge some of the existing conceptions about female company founders showing a majority of women believe they can scale their businesses, with many currently focused on achieving this on a global level.   

“We are also highly encouraged to see that a large majority of female founders feel self-confident in developing their companies, an important area that AccelerateHER has been focused on in our work with aspiring businesswomen.    

“With two in five female-led businesses seeking growth investment, getting access to finance remains a huge challenge. This key issue needs to be further addressed and will remain a key area of focus for AccelerateHER going forward. The need for additional resources and guidance, raised by a majority of survey respondents, is also shaping our own plans in developing new support measures to help overcome some of the main barriers the continue to confront female founders.  

“Growing the numbers of scalable female-led businesses delivers universal economic benefits. We need to ensure that we all work together to help women overcome some of the existing barriers highlighted in our survey, and ensure we further increase female entrepreneurship across all regions of the UK.”