Business not fair for the fairer sex - but there is help at hand

Yet despite women making positive inroads into sport - and outnumbering men, since 51% of the UK population is female - only 17% of business owners are female.

It's a worrying statistic - and one that seems illogical. Women-led businesses outperform those run by men when business characteristics are accounted for, according to a study commissioned by RBS.  Heck, just take a look at Smarta, founded and led by Shaa Wasmund, or any one of Smarta 100 judge Deborah Meaden's businesses, or the fantastic Martha Lane Fox.

So why are so few women following in their footsteps?

RBS wants to answer these questions and redress the balance. It is pledging to inspire and enable 20,000 women to unlock their enterprise potential.

The bank is putting its money where its mouth is too, by making £1.5m available over three years to provide grants of up to £50,000 a pop to UK organisations that encourage and support women in enterprise.

Organisations can apply for funding until Friday 2 November at www.rbs.com/inspiringenterprise.

"A gap between the numbers of male and female entrepreneurs still exists - and we are doing all we can as a bank to close it down," says Chris Sullivan, CEO of Corporate Banking at RBS. "The research launched on 22 October goes some way in illustrating the perceived barriers to women, and I hope that this RBS Inspiring Women in Enterprise funding helps to provide support where it is most needed."

We think this is a truly brilliant initiative from our partner. And we'd be interested to hear your views on why more women aren't running businesses. Let us know why you think men are twice as likely to start a business by leaving a comment below, and talking to us @SmartaHQ.

For more information on the report by RBS, head to: www.rbs.com/inspiringenterprise

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