The 5 Best UK Cities To Start A Business In As A Woman

The 5 Best UK Cities To Start A Business In As A Woman

These are the 5 best UK cities to start a business in as a woman, according to a new study 

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New data from payments provider Dojo, part of the Paymentsense brand, has looked at the best cities for women to start a business. By analysing data from the past year the index has revealed the UK cities where women should open business and compared this with the top cities to start a business overall.

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Dojo analysed the following criteria to assess which city in the UK has the best working conditions for women to start a business:

  • 5-year start-up survival rate - The % of cities that survive longer than 5 years
  • Cost of living - The amount of money it costs to live day-to-day
  • Average Weekly Pay - How much the average full-time worker earns
  • Female employees - Number of female employees
  • Female business owners - Number of females that are self-employed
  • Gender pay gap - Where in the UK has the lowest gender pay gap

The results are as follows:

The Top Cities In The UK To Start A Business If You're A Woman - Ranked

Rank City Population Total Score
1 York 164,369 433
2 Wakefield 107,546 353
3 Stoke-on-Trent 278,137 289
4 Sunderland 174,807 286
5 Wolverhampton 246,247 281
6 Southampton 269,750 261
7 Plymouth 265,792 244
8 Perth 47,430 244
9 Hereford 55,800 231
10 Peterborough 178,805 22
11 Sheffield 552,143 222
12 Lancaster 497,000 200
13 Portsmouth 229,851 192
14 Swansea 185,460 186
15 Nottingham 315,987 156
  1. York, North Yorkshire

  • Female bosses: 9.2%
  • Women in work: 66.3%

Today York is proudly championing it's female-owned and run businesses, with women-only-networking groups such as 'York Women Mean Business' enabling growth and knowledge sharing across the city. York consistently scored highly in the study as a city with the 3rd highest 5-year start-up survival rate at 47.7% and the 5th highest for female bosses.

Catherine Paver in 1971 established footwear company Pavers, which has over 100 stores.

  1. Wakefield, West Yorkshire

  • Female bosses: 5.1%
  • Women in work: 66.2%

Wakefield scored second place in both categories of the best places to start a business as a woman and where to start a business overall meaning this West Yorkshire city is a top choice for both men and women. Like York, the city has several networking opportunities for women, including Wakefield Women's Business Club.

  1. Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

  • Women in work: 64.3%
  • Female bosses: 4.7%

Like Wakefield, Stoke-on-Trend was also consistent in its score across both indexes.

Bet365, a hugely successful gambling platform, is based in Stoke and was founded and is run by Denise Coates – the best-paid female executive in the world. Denise was paid £265 million in 2018. For reference, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, received £80 million.

  1. Sunderland, Tyne and Wear

  • Women in work: 66.3%
  • Female bosses: 4.4%

Although the North East admits that diversity in businesses is lacking, there are several strong female leaders across the North East in companies such as Virgin Money's Jayne-Anne Gadhia and Alice Hall, the founder of the Pink Boutique.

  1. Wolverhampton, West Midlands

  • Women in work: 62.1%
  • Female bosses: 4.7%

Caitlyn Moran, a successful journalist, comedian and best-selling author, grew up in Wolverhampton. Last year, entrepreneur and founder of the plastic-free cosmetics company Stript Becky Shuck used Natwest's Back Her Business incentive to raise £2,000.

The Best Places To Start A Business Overall

Starting a business anywhere within the UK will always start off as a challenge, but below are the top five places within the UK to start a business in general. Wolverhampton scored 161.1 on the index, whilst Wakefield scored 155.6, Stoke-on-Trent 127.8, Sheffield 127.8, and Southampton at 125.

The index was ranked on the five-year startup survival rate of new businesses, cost of living, and an average weekly full-time salary.

Rank City Population Total Score
1 Wolverhampton 246,247 161.1
2 Wakefield 107,546 155.6
3 Stoke-on-Trent 278,137 127.8
4 Sheffield 552,143 127.8
5 Southampton 269,750 125.0
6 Sunderland 174,807 119.4
7 Lancaster 497,000 111.1
8 Portsmouth 229,851 105.6
9 Plymouth 265,792 100.0
10 Peterborough 178,805 94.4
11 Nottingham 315,987 91.7
12 Glasgow 1,673,000 66.7
13 Manchester 563,185 66.7
14 Coventry 382,073 61.1
15 Leicester 415,543 61.1


About Dojo, part of the Paymentsense brand: 

Dojo is part of Paymentsense – a payments provider specialising in helping independent businesses take payments, effortlessly. Based in the UK, and with offices in London, Bristol, Hull, Belfast and Dublin, they currently enable over 50,000 businesses to process more than £12 bn worth of card transactions annually.

For more information visit:


The index was calculated based on:

  • UK 5-year startup survival rates
  • ONS average weekly pay data
  • ONS gender pay gap data
  • ONS population data
  • ONS female employees and self-employed data
  • Cost of living rates from Numbeo

Updated on

Anna Peel is a professional writer. In the past four years, she has written for many websites including BSC Kids, Wasabi Media Group, Boomtron, and many others. She currently live in Savannah, Georgia and occasionally blogs about fashion during her free time.
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