For the first time in 13 years, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) study of 59 economies shows that women are creating businesses at a greater rate than men in three economies and in four others, the rates are nearly equal. In Ghana, Nigeriaand Thailand the rate of nascent women is higher than men and in Brazil, Ecuador, Uganda and Switzerland the start-up rates by gender are equal. While in the other 52 economies the rates of women’s start-up are lower than men, sometimes up to 6x lower, this is generally good news, perhaps signaling a positive trend. This equalization follows decades of legislative, policy and socio-cultural changes that have gradually empowered, supported and trained women to perceive opportunities and believe they have the capabilities to start businesses.
Why does this matter?
In the first place, women entrepreneurs are creating jobs, innovation and contributing to the GNP of various economies just like their male counterparts. Second, and more compelling, are the contributions women entrepreneurs make to society. There is growing evidence that women are more likely to reinvest their profits in education, their family and their community. Ironically traditional measures of economic development and business performance do not often capture the true transformational benefits of these transformational businesses.
For example, the path breaking work of Muhammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank shows that small micro-credit loans given to women are nearly always paid back and that the funds are used to invest in businesses, that provide funds to educate children and lift families out of poverty. Similarly, a recent study I conducted with my colleagues shows that women are more likely to start businesses with both social and economic goals, or hybrid ventures (Meyskens, Allen & Brush, 2011)