High-street lenders neglecting women-led enterprises, new study finds

Research from independent SME funder Bibby Financial Services (BFS) finds that women business leaders are facing gender inequality in commercial lending, which is hampering the growth ambitions of many SMEs.

Data from BFS’s latest SME Confidence Tracker, which surveyed 1,000 UK SMEs, uncovered that two thirds (66 per cent) of women business leaders believe that banks are less prepared to lend to businesses like theirs, while more than half (57 per cent) say it's more difficult to access external finance than it was six months ago. According to official figures, corporate insolvencies hit a 30-year high in England and Wales in 2023, and BFS’s latest data reveals that more than half of SMEs overall (54 per cent) have experienced the insolvency of a supplier in the past six months, and a similar proportion (51 per cent) have seen customers fail.

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