WOMEN WHO run their own businesses are more numerous in the countryside than they are in towns or suburban areas, a study has found.

The Global Enterprise Monitor found that women in rural areas accounted for one in twenty entrepreneurs, compared to less than one in thirty in towns and cities.

Jacqui Smith, the UK Equality Minister welcomed the findings, but said that women still lagged behind men.

“Although women represent the largest under-represented group in terms of participation in enterprise, there is still a vast source of untapped potential.

“If women started businesses at the same rate as men we would have 150,000 extra start ups in the UK.”

Female enterprise adds £50-70bn to the British economy each year, she added.

Sally Robinson, who founded underwear retailer www.amplebosom.com , said that there was no reason for women not to start up companies.

“I don‘t think there are any barriers to female entrepreneurs, apart from confidence,” she said.

“Compared to farming, the administration and red tape of a company seems easy.

“Farmers are very patient when they have to be, but very quick, for instance when the weather‘s right.

“They also understand how to deal with bank managers and VAT,” she added.