Women entrepreneurs have narrowed the gender gap by six percent since 2012 and are adding to the economic engine that is entrepreneurship, according to the latest GEM report.
The report serves as the most comprehensive research ever conducted on women’s entrepreneurship and now confirms more than 200 million women entrepreneurs starting or running new businesses in 83 economies across the globe. An additional 128 million are running established businesses.
Women entrepreneurs in nearly half of the surveyed economies are now equal to, or even outpacing their male counterparts in terms of innovation - demonstrating a growing parity between men and women selling products and services that are new to consumers and not generally offered by competitors.
Fostering Female Innovation
”Promoting women’s entrepreneurship requires more than increasing the rate in which women start businesses,” said Babson College Professor and report author Donna Kelley. “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.”
Also, the more women participate in the workforce, relative to men, the more likely they are to be, or become, entrepreneurs. This conclusion derives from an analysis of total early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA) in relation to gender gap indicators measured by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
In economies with a greater proportion of women starting businesses - in teams of three or more co-founders - there is also a greater likelihood they will have job-creation ambitions.
“The 2014 GEM Women’s Report helps us better understand the diversity among women business owners and their businesses, including an important recognition of the value created by women working in teams within, and across, their businesses,” added Babson College Professor and report author Patricia Greene.
Women around the world, on average, are also pursuing opportunity-driven entrepreneurial activity proportionate to men, resulting in a smaller gender gap in the percentage of entrepreneurs with opportunity motivations in every region.
In ten economies, women are as or more likely to be entrepreneurs than men. They include El Salvador and Brazil in Latin America and the Caribbean; Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines in Southeast Asia; and Zambia, Nigeria, Uganda, and Ghana in Africa.
A Deeper Understanding
“In most economies, the prescriptions for success are based on studies of male entrepreneurs. In the past two decades, the rise of women entrepreneurs helps us to better understand the factors leading to start-up success and growth of both men and women entrepreneurs,” said Babson College Vice Provost of Global Entrepreneurial Leadership and report author Candida Brush. “GEM data is central to providing this information”