More Women Entrepreneurs Starting Businesses

Women in the business world are catching up to men in terms of entrepreneurial activity, according to a new report.

More women around the world are stepping up and starting new businesses as entrepreneurs, according to a recently released report.

According to the new Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report—a joint project between Babson College and the London School of Business—the rate of entrepreneurial activity among women has increased by 7 percent across 61 world economies since 2012.

The entrepreneurial gap between men and women also narrowed by 6 percent:11 percent of women currently participate in entrepreneurial activity versus 16 percent of men. The entrepreneurial activity rate for men and women is most aligned in Africa and the Asia and Oceania region, showing a “greater demand for entrepreneurship in developing economies than in developed economies,” GEM’s 2014 Women’s Report said.

Brian Costanzo, senior vice president of business development with the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), is encouraged by the growth in female entrepreneurs.

“For me it’s less about the numbers and more about the trends, and seeing more desire for females to make a difference in the economy and use their talents and skills for the betterment of their communities,” Costanzo said.

GEM reported 200 million women in the 83 economies analyzed are starting or running a new business. That’s in addition to the 128 million women who are running already existing businesses. In half of the economies, women are on par or surpassing men in innovation—providing new services or products not generally offered by competitors.

“Promoting women’s entrepreneurship requires more than increasing the rate in which women start businesses,” report author and Babson College professor Donna Kelley said in a statement. “Our GEM research shows that women entrepreneurs are frequently innovative, which demonstrates the impact they can have on their societies. Supporting women’s aspirations to innovate could be an important means of creating businesses with a competitive edge, and those with novel solutions to improve people’s lives.”

Campaign manager for EO’s “WOMENtrepreneurs” engagement initiative, Karen Summerson, said this upward trend results from women’s increased access to formal education, emerging global markets, and opportunity. With greater awareness of opportunities, women are stepping into new roles as business leaders.

The “WOMENtrepreneurs” campaign was a 31-day program that took place in October and highlighted stories of successful female entrepreneurs. Publicizing such success stories is a tactic Costanzo said is essential to encouraging more women to engage in entrepreneurial activity.

“It’s telling the story,” he said. “The more people who hear the story of successful female entrepreneurs, that’s what we can do. Get it in the media, get it in the mainstream, [and] get it on social media. Talk about it.”

Many women worldwide still feel they don’t have adequate training, financial resources, or peer support to start a business, Summerson said. While there are plenty of grassroots movements to change this, she thinks more organizations need to be leveling the playing field for men and women from the top-down.

“It’s a matter of empowering women—yes, that’s what we’re focusing on,” she said. “But we’re also saying to men, ‘Look, we want this to be inspiring and affirmative for everyone so we encourage you again, men, to bring all that you have and to be open.’”


Alex Beall

By Alex Beall

Alex Beall is an associate editor for Associations Now with a masters in journalism and a penchant for Instagram. MORE

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