Empowering women in business: Our new Female Business Owners Index and more

The UK is brimming with entrepreneurship potential, but female participation still trails behind. That’s why, at Tide, we’ve been on a mission to change that narrative since 20191.

Today, we’re thrilled to launch our first Female Business Owners Index – it’s a significant step forward and part of our ongoing commitment to supporting Women in Business. This index isn’t just about numbers: it magnifies the voices of women who are paving the way for a new era of empowered female entrepreneurs.

Our journey towards change starts by listening. That’s why, in November 2023, we surveyed 458* of our female members to understand their experiences as entrepreneurs and the obstacles they face. Their insights were invaluable, and here’s what they shared with us.

Our key findings

Diving into our survey findings, it became evident that female business owners are grappling with a multitude of challenges, ranging from financial barriers to personal obstacles. But despite all this, they’re strikingly confident about 2024.

High interest rates

One of the most pressing issues highlighted in our survey is the impact of high interest rates (currently hovering around 5%) on female business owners. Among the 458 women who responded, 74% said interest rates have negatively impacted their businesses over the past six months. 

It’s also disheartening to learn that:

  • 40% of these women find it challenging to envision their long-term plans
  • 21% are using their hard-earned profits to repay loans
  • 38% are putting growth plans on hold 
  • 37% are struggling to manage cash flow

Inflation woes

And their challenges don’t end there. In our survey, 38% of female members said that they’ve felt the pinch of rising inflation, admitting it hasn’t been easy to overcome. Energy costs weren’t far behind, either, impacting 25% of these female entrepreneurs. Additionally, 25% have found it challenging to access the financial support they need to thrive. 

Personal factors

Beyond financial challenges, personal factors are likely to play a significant role in shaping the experiences of female entrepreneurs in the next six months. Many women expressed feelings of low self-confidence (now 33%, up from 8% in our February 2023 survey2), struggled to be taken seriously as business owners (26%), and faced difficulties balancing caring responsibilities with their entrepreneurial pursuits

Optimism and resilience

Despite these obstacles, female business owners remain remarkably optimistic about the future. A majority (74%), anticipate revenue growth in 2024, and almost 1 in 5 (18%) believe this growth will be significant. These numbers speak volumes about their resilience in the face of adversity.

Our current initiatives

Celebrating milestones and setting new goals

Celebrating milestones, such as onboarding 100,000 female-led businesses3 ten months ahead of schedule, fuels our continuous commitment to championing women. We’ve also set our sights on supporting another 100,000 women in the UK by 20274, reaching a total of 200,000, and empowering 500,000 women-led businesses in India by the same year5. These goals are about making a real difference on a global scale and fostering inclusivity every step of the way.

Empowering through a community: our Women in Business Content Series

Central to our mission is the Women in Business content series6. We launched it to create a vibrant community where female Tide members can connect, learn, and thrive. We’re proud to showcase two of our inspiring Tide members, Atinuke Awe (Tinuke) and Daisy Morris.

Tinuke7 is the founder and CEO of Mums and Tea8, Learning with Ez9, and Five X More CIC10 – an organisation committed to revolutionising Black maternal outcomes in the UK. Her entrepreneurial journey is a testament to the resilience and determination of women in business.

Daisy11 is a Community and Content strategist. Drawing from her wealth of experience, she uses our platform to share her expertise to create a thriving business community. She also provides invaluable insights to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of community-building in 2024 and beyond.

Mastercard’s Strive Programme

In partnership with Mastercard, we’re continuing to offer our members access to the Strive UK programme12. This initiative, spearheaded by the Mastercard Centre for Inclusive Growth, focuses on equipping small businesses, particularly those led by women and ethnic-minority owners, with essential digital skills. Through tailored training, personalised mentoring, and invaluable resources, our members will be empowered to navigate challenges and opportunities, and thrive in an ever-evolving business landscape.

Wrapping up

At Tide, we know that success is not just about reaching milestones, but also about fostering a community where women entrepreneurs can thrive and redefine the norms.

As we reflect on our journey so far, we’re grateful for the inspiring women who’ve shared their challenges and successes with us. Their resilience ignites our determination to continue breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for all women, not just in the UK but around the world.

And as we look ahead, we invite you to join us, to challenge the status quo and build a future where you have the support and resources to succeed.

 *The Tide member survey was conducted between 27 October and 18 November 2023, with 1,327 total respondents (of whom 458 were female members).

Sources used for this article (checked as of 9 February 2024):

1Supporting women in business

2,3Tide onboards more than 100,000 female members

4 Tide commits to empowering 200,000 female business owners by 2027

5Tide commits to empowering 500,000 women-led small businesses in India by 2027

6Tide’s Women in Business content series 

7Tinuke Awe

8Mums and Tea

9Learning With Ez

10Five X More CIC

11Daisy Morris

12Strive UK programme

Heather Cobb

Heather Cobb

SVP Member Engagement

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