New study reveals top 10 UK cities with most female-led businesses

Women are constantly breaking boundaries in business, which was once seen to be a male-dominated space. It is predicted that a further £250 billion could be added to the UK economy if women started businesses at the same rate as men. However, currently only one in three entrepreneurs in the UK are female. Furthermore, female businesses are only 44% of the size of male-led businesses, but this is changing.

With searches for ‘famous female entrepreneurs’ up 131% over the last 12 months, this exposure to young women all over the world means that they are becoming more aware of the ability to work for themselves and become financially independent, as well as being prepared to take on the challenges (and perks) that come alongside this.

In light of the burgeoning female-led businesses, we at Paymentsense analysed Crunchbase data to find out which cities have the most female-owned businesses and who are the current female leaders in the UK market. We also have discovered which female social media influencers turned entrepreneurs have the largest followings on Instagram, as well as three female-founded businesses on Instagram that are certainly ones to watch!

The top 10 cities in the UK with the most female-led businesses

Rank Location Total registered businesses No. of female businesses Percentage of businesses that are female-led
1 London 45,617 3,088 6.8%
2 Manchester 3,631 110 3.0%
3 Cambridge 2,979 76 2.6%
4 Edinburgh 2,281 98 4.3%
5 Bristol 2,181 75 3.4%
6 Birmingham 2,175 36 1.7%
7 Glasgow 2,164 65 3.0%
8 Leeds 1,754 31 1.8%
9 York 1,206 18 1.5%
10 Nottingham 1,178 23 2.0%


UK’s capital, London has the highest number of female-led businesses in the UK

London has ranked as the city with the most female-led businesses, making the UK’s capital the female-led business capital too! With an impressive 3,088 female-led businesses, London sits comfortably ahead of the rest of the cities analysed. However, this is just 6.8% of the total business population in London so there is definitely room for growth and, with London’s reputation for being booming with opportunity, it seems London is the place to be for any women looking to start up their own business!

110 businesses in Manchester are female-led according to data

Manchester has ranked as the second city in the UK with the most female-led businesses and is home to 110 businesses with female CEOs. This is equal to 3% of all registered businesses in Manchester.

Just 2.6% of businesses in Cambridge are female-led

Known for being home to one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Cambridge ranks in third place for the most female-led businesses in the UK. It is also home to 76 female-led businesses, making up 2.6% of all registered businesses in the city.

4.3% of businesses in Edinburgh are female-led

Edinburgh – renowned for its rich history and mesmerising beauty – takes a spot in the top five cities for the most female-led businesses. With 98 registered female-led businesses, making up 4.3% of all businesses in the city, Edinburgh ranks in fourth place.

Bristol ranks as the fifth city in the UK for the total number of female-led businesses

Bristol rounds off the top five cities with the most female-led businesses being home to 75 businesses with female leaders, which is 3.4% of all businesses registered in Bristol. As the first British city to be named European Green Capital, Bristol is a great place to be for any woman looking for a metropolitan place to begin their sustainable business journey!

Female-led businesses make up less than 7% of businesses in most UK cities

It is worth noting that these figures show a clear disparity between the number of male-led and female-led businesses in the UK, with our data showing that the percentage of UK businesses led by the latter range from just 0%-6.9% across the different cities – staggeringly low numbers. However, with more women starting their own businesses, joining boards and occupying senior roles all across the country, these figures are creeping up.

Hannah Millist, founder of Twogether Digital shared the challenges she faces as a female-founder as well as her advice for fellow female entrepreneurs: “The biggest obstacle I face is myself. Imposter Syndrome is a thing and I really struggle with it. Even though I’ve been working in SEO for years, I still feel like I’m a fake. Some of that is left over from my time in education; the education system makes you feel like a failure even when you’re not. I also struggle with taking calculated risks, even if it’s a risk that isn’t much of a risk at all, really. I’m constantly “putting the brakes on” and then having to berate myself for it. You can definitely accuse me of being overcautious at times.”