Dojo previously investigated which of the UK’s most populated cities were most likely to provide the best location for women to start a successful business. The study revealed that Chelmsford, the first city of Essex, came out on top.

To help understand what is helping drive female entrepreneurs in Essex, and how the other areas of Essex fare, Dojo spoke to Essex County Council to get some insight.

Ranked: The best places for women to start a business in Essex

The index took into account the below 6 indicators to understand how likely a business is to survive:

  • 5-year start-up survival rate
  • Cost of living (based on rented a 1 bed)
  • Average weekly pay
  • Reported no. of employed women and the % of the workforce* that are employed women
  • No. of self-employed women and the % of the workforce* that are self-employed women
  • Average reported gender pay gap (Mean) for each area

*Workforce refers to adults within the population that are of working age according to ONS.

Rank Area 2022 Population 5 year survival rate
Cost of living
(based on renting a 1 bed)
Average weekly pay Reported no. of employed women % of employed women No. of self employed women % of self-employed women Average reported gender pay gap
Index Score
(out of 100)
1 Uttlesford 91,341 47.3% £790 £626 18,125 63.0% 2,678 9.3% 19.9 77
2 Chelmsford 181,523 44.5% £900 £631 38,712 61.8% 3,574 5.7% 4.7 74
3 Rochford 85,661 46.2% £709 £595 18,081 59.2% 1,674 5.5% 21 60
4 Braintree 155,268 45.1% £675 £518 33,411 61.7% 3,456 6.4% 22.6 58
5 Maldon 66,208 44.9% £674 £521 13,394 58.5% 1,706 7.5% 23.8 57
6 Colchester 192,715 42.6% £655 £562 37,767 58.2% 3,473 5.3% 13.6 56
7 Epping Forest 134,980 40.0% £909 £628 28,099 60.4% 3,425 7.4% 12.6 56
8 Brentwood 77,047 41.9% £929 £644 16,457 60.8% 1,842 6.8% 26.8 52
9 Tendring 148,291 42.3% £595 £569 28,067 56.0% 2,660 5.3% 20.1 50
10 Thurrock 176,001 40.9% £756 £614 34,500 60.1% 2,250 3.9% 5.2 50
11 Basildon 187,571 42.1% £776 £605 48,000 58.1% 2,722 4.2% 18 44
12 Harlow 93,329 41.5% £794 £545 18,411 61.0% 1,169 3.9% 8 44
13 Southend-on-Sea 180,686 40.9% £675 £556 36,484 58.0% 3,334 5.3% 9.5 44
14 Castle Point 89,587 33.6% £741 £519 18,375 55.9% 1,529 4.7% 27.8 20


Uttlesford is the best place in Essex for women to start a business

Uttlesford, the home to the market town of Saffron Walden, has been revealed as the best location for women to start a business in Essex. The area has the highest percentage of employed women out of all the areas in Essex that were analysed with 63% of the workforce population in employment. Uttlesford also boasted the highest percentage of self-employed women with 9.6% of the workforce population reported to be in this bracket.

Uttlesford scored 77 out of a possible 100 points on the index, which is unsurprising considering the local government district also has the highest 5-year business survival rate out of the areas reviewed (47.3%).

Image credit: Uttlesford District Council (Image: Charlie Ridler)

Essex County Council give insight into what’s driving Essex entrepreneurs

We spoke to Eve Calderbank, Principal Economic Growth Officer at Essex County Council, to dig deeper into the entrepreneurial landscape in Essex and what the Council are doing to help encourage and support female entrepreneurs in starting their own small businesses.

Does Essex have grants/initiatives/schemes for entrepreneurial women looking to start their own business?

Eve: "As part of my role at Essex County Council I founded Ambitious Women in Essex, a community seeking to support women entrepreneurs within the county, as well as those looking to further their careers. I am building a community, firstly through Linked In, and now via a newsletter and sharing any opportunities that will help women in business. Through this community, Essex County Council funded spaces on 2 courses run by We Are Radikl which were aimed at women entrepreneurs, and I now hold regular networking events around the county."

Have you seen more businesses run by women start up since the pandemic?

Eve: "I think there is definitely more of an appetite for it now, and with the growing cost of living crisis, which have both had a negative impact on women's careers. As primary caregivers, and also the highest proportion of employees with the areas hardest hit, as well as growing childcare costs, women are having to look at ways in which to either supplement their income, or think about starting a business to fit around their lives in order to deal with other responsibilities. Through Ambitious Women in Essex I have met so many inspirational women, who more often than not have started their own business inspired by a personal experience and are therefore trying to change this landscape and make sure that other women don’t have to go through the same."

What are your tips for women starting up a business?

Eve: "I think the thing I have taken most from setting up Ambitious Women in Essex is that the community support is vital and that the feeling of speaking to other women entrepreneurs is really valuable. At the networking events I run, it’s amazing to watch all of the collaborative discussions that take place and women using these new connections to think about how they can pivot their ideas, or setting up future one to ones for the extra support. I would say to anyone thinking of going down that route, you don’t have to be alone, there is help out there and if you are a woman in Essex then get in touch and see how we can help."

Is there still a glass ceiling for women looking to start their own businesses? What can be done about it?

Eve: "I think that things are definitely moving in the right direction for women, the stats I read seem to be improving, but there is still a long way to go. I think women are always likely to come up against challenges such as taking time off due to maternity leave and caregiving responsibilities (should they choose to start families), menopause and breaking into more male-dominated industries to name but a few, so it's up to all of us to make sure that workplaces are educated, set up to understand intersectionality, offer appropriate support and that all women are given equal opportunities. I hope that by building communities like Ambitious Women, we can show that there is support out there and that this gives women the confidence to think, I can do this and I can fit it around my life and other responsibilities."


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A combination of ONS (5-year start-up survival rate, gender pay gap, average weekly pay), Nomisweb (female employees in each UK city and self-employed females) and Numbeo (Avg. monthly cost for rent) data was used to create the index.

Each element has been assigned a weighted value that contributes to the final index score. The index scores for each area were then ranked to reveal the areas cities for women to start a business from.