Government must learn from the US to encourage female entrepreneurship and increase female-owned businesses if it is to really grow the economy, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said.

The FSB is concerned that women-owned businesses only make up 29 per cent of self-employed people in the UK despite nearly half (46%) of the working population being female.

In a new report, ‘Women in business. Female entrepreneurship: creating growth and dispelling the myths’, the FSB is calling on the Government to learn from the US and other EU countries to encourage female entrepreneurship by breaking down the barriers to self-employment, promoting alternative sources of financing, encouraging mentoring, and promote female entrepreneurship role models.

Women’s enterprise contributes around £130 billion turnover and £70 billion Gross Value Added every year. But if the UK had the same level of female entrepreneurship as the US, there would be 600,000 extra women-owned businesses, contributing an additional £42 billion to the economy.

While the Government has said it is looking into female entrepreneurship, the FSB believes it is an economic resource the Government has yet to fully tap into within its plans to grow the economy.

The FSB is calling on the Government to encourage female entrepreneurship by better promoting alternative sources of finance and providing access to training and support on finance options to increase the growth potential of women-owned small businesses.

The FSB would also like governments to introduce enterprise clubs for women to facilitate networking with successful female entrepreneurs and provide access to speakers and advisors on how to start up a business.

However, the FSB is concerned that it is not just women that have to break down the barriers to starting up a businesses, but both men and women, so the FSB is urging the Government to make tackling this a priority and is calling for a moratorium on the introduction of all employment regulations for a year following the Chancellor’s Budget this month.