The Business Of Business: Female entrepreneurship continues an upward trend in Canada

Women’s entrepreneurship is on the rise globally. In the past year, 163 million women were starting businesses across 74 economies worldwide, while 111 million were running established businesses. This is according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2016/17 Women’s Report released today with sponsors: Babson College, Smith College, Korea Entrepreneurship Foundation, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Universidad Del Desarrollo, and Universiti Tun Abdul Razak.

“This not only shows the magnitude of impact women entrepreneurs have across the globe, but highlights the contribution they make toward the growth and well-being of their societies,” said Babson College Professor and report co-author Donna Kelley. “Women entrepreneurs provide incomes for their families, employment for those in their communities, and products and services that bring new value to the world around them.”

Among the 63 economies surveyed in both this and the last report produced in 2015, GEM found that Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) among women increased by 10%, and the gender gap (ratio of women to men participating in entrepreneurship) narrowed by 5%. These same economies show an 8% increase in women’s ownership of established businesses.

Female Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) and Gender Ratio sees advancement, mainly due to improvements in Canada

Female entrepreneurship rates vary significantly across the economies surveyed. GEM groups economies into five levels of economic development (using criteria identified by the World Economic Forum) and six geographic regions: East and South Asia and Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, North America, and sub-Saharan Africa. 
 
Female TEA rates ranged from 3% in Germany, Jordan, Italy and France to 37% in Senegal. In just five economies in two regions (Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam in Asia and Mexico and Brazil in Latin America), women participated in entrepreneurship at equal or higher rates than men.
 
Ten percent of all women entrepreneurs surveyed, operate their businesses on their own and have no intentions to add any employees in the next five years. Europe has the highest frequency of one-person female business activity, meaning they have no intentions of employing anyone else, whereas North  America with two advanced economies has the lowest. 
 
Policy insight for better support of women entrepreneurs
 
GEM, now in its 18th year, has gained widespread recognition as the most authoritative longitudinal study of entrepreneurship in the world and, as such, it offers valuable insights to guide future research and policy decision-making as well as the design of interventions that can enhance women entrepreneurship, said GEM Executive Director Mike Herrington.
 
The data from this latest report highlights several key trends and paradoxes, he said. “As economic development and educational level increases, entrepreneurial participation among women declines and the gender gap increases, but business discontinuance also slows down. While the female discontinuance rate exceeds that of males in the first three levels of development, although only by about 10%, fewer women in highly developed innovation-driven economies have exited businesses, and at only two-thirds the rate of men.”

Also of note for policy makers is the finding that, on average, women exhibit a 20% or greater likelihood of citing necessity as a motive for starting a new business when compared to men – especially in less developed economies. A positive finding is that that women entrepreneurs have a 5% greater likelihood of innovativeness compared to men. 

While there are no clear cut answers in the report, the data provides an important foundation for the support of female business growth and the creation of both economic and social value around the world, commented Herrington.

“In many respects this report shows that women entrepreneurs across the world are more different than similar in terms of personal demographics, attitudes, and the types of businesses they run,” he said. “This suggests that support initiatives for women entrepreneurs need be tailored and customised per economy - rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach.” 

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