Women in developing economies seem to be more inclined to follow the entrepreneurship path than women in alreadydeveloped economies, where sustainable employment opportunities are often in greater supply. The report, which identified the least-developed economies as factor-driven economies, reads: “Women are most often motivated by necessity in the factor-driven group, a trend that declines as economies develop. Across all economic development levels, however, women are more likely than men to become entrepreneurs out of necessity. Therefore, while necessity motivates entrepreneurs to a great extent in less-developed economies, it motivates women to an even higher degree.”
Women’s Feelings toward Entrepreneurship
Women in lesser-developed economies are apparently more likely to perceive opportunities in their area, and to have confidence in their own entrepreneurship capabilities, than women in more advanced economies. The survey found that women in this category are also more inclined to want to start a business, and generally have less fear of failure than women in more developed economies.
Women in ‘factor-driven’ economies were also found to have a more positive attitude to entrepreneurship as a career choice than women in wealthier economies. These interesting findings seem to reflect the necessity-driven response of women in economies affected by a shortage of employment opportunities.
In emerging economies, women are more likely to struggle with issues of survival and sustenance than women in already-developed economies, whose needs are more likely to differ.
In terms of overall participation in entrepreneurship, women are still less involved than men. Participation levels however vary from country to country. In the Republic of Korea, for instance, women entrepreneurs made up less than one-sixth of all entrepreneurs in the country. In Ghana, on the other hand, women represented more than half of all entrepreneurs. An analysis of the gender differentiation of entrepreneurs in 18 economies between 2002 and 2010 reveals that this scenario is hardly new, having persisted for some time. While the exact reasons for the variations are not decisively discernible, it seems that the lack of participation of women in business is due largely to factors including, but not limited to: women’s own perceptions of business; the shortage of female business
role models; and a lack of support for women who want to get into business.
Regarding women’s attitudes to entrepreneurship, the survey found that, while women are just as likely as men to see entrepreneurship as attractive, what tends to be lacking is a positive attitude to their personal capability to start a business. Most women do not have as much personal contact with women entrepreneurs as men do with male entrepreneurs, yet exposure of this nature could do much to build confidence in their ability to pursue their business ideas.
At the subliminal level of intention, the report indicates that fewer women than men intend to start businesses, and that more women are dissuaded from launching out into business by the fear of failure. The report also shows that women in the developed world are more influenced by fear than is the case with women in less-developed economies. Tracking the positive perceptions of women in developed countries with regard to entrepreneurship between 2002 and 2010, the survey found that this either declined or rose only marginally. It is suspected that the global economic downturn toward the end of the period in question is partly responsible for this trend.
More Women Entrepreneurs in Developing Economies
The survey also gauged the number of people in the process of starting a business, as well as those already running businesses under the age of three-and-a-half years, to determine what is termed ‘Total Early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity’ (TEA). Overall, TEA rates were found to be highest in lesserdeveloped
economies, falling with economic development. The only exception was at the very highest gross domestic product (GDP) levels, where a slight upward trend in entrepreneurial activity was observed. In emerging and developing economies, more women are starting new businesses than there are women managing established businesses.
In developed economies, the reverse is true. Women in these economies are more like their male counterparts, managing established businesses as opposed to start-up enterprises. This aspect of the report shows that women’s participation in entrepreneurial activity and their level of involvement in business seem to be affected largely by the level of their country’s economic development, as well as by the practical advancement of the gender-equality cause. Statistics reflect
that women’s participation in entrepreneurial activity varies widely around the globe, ranging from slightly more than 1.5% in the adult working-age population (between ages 18 and 64) to as high as 45.4% in developing, or factor-driven, economies.
The proportion of entrepreneurs who are women ranges from 16%, in the Republic of Korea, to 55%, in Ghana. Ghana is, however, the exception in terms of having more female entrepreneurs than male entrepreneurs among the 59 economies surveyed. Most economies have more male entrepreneurs in
comparison with women entrepreneurs, with only a handful having an equal mix of both.
In terms of numbers, more than 104-million women between the ages of 18 and 64 were actively engaged in starting and running new business ventures, while another 83-million women were running established businesses that they had started over three-and-a-half years earlier. Altogether, 187-million women were involved in establishing and operating enterprises.
Although women in developing economies generally displayed a high rate of entrepreneurship, research found a disparity in TEA rates between Middle East/North African (MENA) economies and sub-Saharan African economies. MENA countries were found to have the lowest proportion of women entrepreneurs when compared with other countries. Very few women were reported to be starting businesses in these countries. This is in contrast to sub-Saharan African economies, where women make up nearly half of entrepreneurs, or even more, and have a higher percentage of women starting new businesses.
Education, Innovation and Women Entrepreneurs
Among both entrepreneurs and established business owners, men were found to be more likely to have a secondary-level education than women in lesser-developed economies. Women entrepreneurs, however, appear almost to surpass the level of men’s education in more advanced economies. The education levels of women entrepreneurs have been found to correspond with the economic development of the countries within which they live, rising and falling proportionately. In the most developed economies, women entrepreneurs are as well educated and just as likely to develop innovative products as male entrepreneurs are.
The business-growth expectations of women entrepreneurs in developed economies is however half that of male entrepreneurs. In developed economies, twice as many men as women expected to add 20 or more employees to their companies. As regards innovation, more women entrepreneurs in developed economies seem likely to introduce new products and services to their business offering than women in emerging economies. Women entrepreneurs in developed economies are also less likely to give up their businesses than women in developing economies. When they do, however, it is usually due to
lack of financing, unprofitable businesses or personal reasons.
Differences between Women Entrepreneurs in Emerging Economies and Developed Economies
While research shows that most entrepreneurs fall in the 25- to 34-year-old age group, the age range of entrepreneurs in developing countries includes more entrepreneurs in the 18- to 24-year-old group, reflecting an earlier engagement in entrepreneurial activity. Conversely, entrepreneurs are older in developed economies. This trend is more pronounced for women, for whom the 35- to 44-year-old age group is the most prevalent category in what are referred to as ‘innovationdriven’ economies.
In these advanced economies, there are even more women than men in the 45- to 54-year-old entrepreneur age group. Motivations for being in business clearly
differ between women entrepreneurs in emerging economies and those in developed economies, with trends suggesting that older women in developed economies possibly pursue business for self-actualisation in the presence of many other employment options.
An examination across industrial sectors shows that fewer than half of all male entrepreneurs choose to conduct their business in the consumer sector, whereas nearly two-thirds of women entrepreneurs choose this sector. The study also found that men generally participate more than women in the transforming and business services sectors.
Policy Is Still Blind to the Needs of Women Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses
Some of the solutions offered within the report for dealing with the significant challenges facing women include: assisting start-ups owned by women by making resources and opportunities for growth available; aiding the growth of women-owned businesses through the provision of educational and technical
assistance; and influencing societal attitudes to women’s engagement in entrepreneurship.
According to Professor Donna J Kelley, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College and lead author of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Women’s Report, “most economic policies around the world are made by individuals educated primarily in the world of big business and functioning in their roles to support such businesses”. This however results in the overlooking of smaller businesses, which form the majority of businesses in operation across the world. It is small- to medium-sized companies that create employment for the majority of the world’s workforce.
Blanket policies that take on the perspective of large companies and fail to consider differences between women and men therefore fall short of the requirements for policy that is aimed at facilitating economic growth. In Donna’s opinion, policies aimed at promoting growth will have to be sensitive to the economic growth
potential of small- to medium-sized businesses and the potential of women entrepreneurs, and also take into consideration women’s motivations, attitudes and approaches to business.
The main aim of the study was to discover women’s motivations for starting business ventures, and to find out their ambitions for growing their businesses. It also aimed to uncover societal attitudes to women in entrepreneurship and explore women’s own attitudes to becoming entrepreneurs. After 90 000 interviews with women in different countries, 14 000 of whom were entrepreneurs, the report revealed that, while women are contributing considerably to entrepreneurship in all economies of the world, it is particularly in lesser-developed economies that entrepreneurship among women is notably high. This higher level of entrepreneurship in developing economies is believed to be driven by the necessity that women in such environments are faced with, where an income is required to support their families in what are often single income-earner families. Although high unemployment rates affect all within developing economies, in many societies women are particularly marginalised, where a choice has to be made between employing a man or a woman for a job traditionally associated with males.
The study showed that, in certain societies, a fair proportion of women are still finding it difficult to break out of the gender stereotype that mainstream business is largely a man’s domain. This attitude has been cited as a major reason for women not reaching their full entrepreneurship potential in some economies, and also for their marginalised economic participation.
Women Entrepreneurship: A Divergent Portfolio of Potential