Boss Lady

Which are the best countries for female entrepreneurs?


Over the last decade, the number of female business owners around the world has increased by 45%, with recent research [1] finding that female-founded digital startups outperform male-founded ones.

RS Components have analysed which countries are leading the way when it comes to female entrepreneurs. See our interactive infographic below.

Why then, are so few women (relatively speaking) launching businesses around the world? A report by The Unilever Foundry in February 2018 [2] found that 4 in 10 female founders say they frequently encountered gender bias whilst running their startup, and 42% believed that gender discrimination would stay the same as they scale up. It appears then, that cultural barriers are a large part of the issue, with women not being supported or encouraged into entrepreneurship in the same way as their male peers [3]. The Entrepreneurs Network describes how men are 86% more likely than women to secure venture capital funding, and 56% more like to win the backing of an angel investor. Women also commonly receive fewer and smaller bank loans for their business- – as well as being charged more for these loans [3].

There are many benefits to trying to improve opportunities for female entrepreneurs, with businesses founded by women ultimately delivering higher revenue – more than twice as much per dollar invested than those founded by men. Research also reveals that investing in female entrepreneurs could boost global GDP by as much as 2%, suggesting that the ripple effect of closing the entrepreneurship gender gap could go far beyond private financial gains [4].

There would be the chance to benefit from new innovations, products and services on the global market from a segment of the population that has never before been given the opportunity to reach their full entrepreneurial potential. Karen Quintos, senior vice president of Dell [5] comments “Unleashing the power of female entrepreneurship can have a dramatic effect on a country’s economy. Research clearly supports the assertion that key things need to be fixed in order for female entrepreneurship to survive and flourish.”

Despite this, there still exists a glaringly obvious entrepreneurial gender gap. Some research suggests that personality characteristics such as fear of failure, risk attitudes, self confidence and willingness to compete can partly account for the gender gap, however this only provides a very modest explanation [6]. According to a report by US Senator Jeanne Shaheen, entitled ‘Tackling the Gender Gap: What Women Entrepreneurs Need to Thrive’, the three main obstacles facing women entrepreneurs are: a lack of role models and mentors; the gender pay gap; and unequal access to funding and venture capital.

Fortunately, there are steps being made to understand and tackle the barriers facing women entrepreneurs. In the UK, RBS CEO of Commercial and Private Banking Alison Rose was appointed to lead a government review in September 2018, to identify barriers faced by women when starting a business, and explore what can be done to overcome them [7].

In the US, the Women’s Business Ownership Act was passed into US law in 1988, to meet the needs of women entrepreneurs, and provide them with additional resources to become stronger business owners. As a result of this Act, several Women’s Business Centres (WBC) were set up to offer substantive, outcome-oriented business services to women entrepreneurs. Today, there are over 100 WBCs across the USA and in 2017, nearly 150,000 female entrepreneurs received counselling and training, creating 17,000 new jobs and £1.3 billion in sales [8]. More recently in the USA, President Trump signed into law the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment (WEEE) Act, a law that strengthens US efforts to promote opportunity for female entrepreneurs worldwide [9].

It’s not just governments who’ve realised the financial benefits of women’s entrepreneurial talent. In 2017 the World Bank introduced the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), the largest fund ever raised to support women’s access to capital, with more than $350 million mobilized to date [9]. G-7 nations also made a commitment last year to raise $3 billion to invest in female entrepreneurs and business leaders. Companies in the private sector such as Walmart, Intel and Coca-Cola, have also recognised how women’s economic participation can improve their bottom line, deploying strategies to source from women-owned business [10]

Visa have also just recently announced that they too will be supporting female business owners – they’ll be launching the ‘She’s Next’ campaign in an effort to champion and empower women to grow their small businesses. The campaign will feature a diverse spectrum of female business owners highlighting practical steps they’ve taken to challenging the boundaries and preconceptions faced by women in business [11].

Female entrepreneurship is clearly continuing on a global upward trend, with the hope that one day the entrepreneurial gender gap will be closed indefinitely – but which countries are currently leading the way?

About Alexandra Berger'

Alexandra Berger is a senior marketing leader with over 18 years’ experience across an international business-to-business environment. Working for companies including Unilever, SC Johnson, SealedAir and Rexel, Alexandra’s experience includes global, regional and country leadership roles in Marketing and Business Management. Alexandra’s broad experience has seen her lead digital transformation programmes, brand development initiatives and customer experience programmes. Most recently Alexandra joined RS Components as Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications for the company’s EMEA region, where she is leading the transformation of the marketing function. RS Components is the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc, the global distributor for engineers. Supporting & inspiring generations of engineers since 1937.

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