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75% of countries lack conditions required for female entrepreneurs

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Among the 17 countries included in both the 2013 and 2014 Gender-GEDI reports, four increased their rankings (Japan, Brazil, India, and United Kingdom), four showed a decline (Malaysia, Egypt, Mexico and Morocco), and the others ranked comparatively both years.

The highest performing countries in the 2014 Gender-GEDI rankings are all OECD member countries with highly developed economies, and for the second year in a row, the US (83) and Australia (80) came out on top, followed by Sweden (73), France and Germany (tied at 67), Chile (55), the UK (54) and Poland (51). The remaining 23 of the 30 countries studied received an overall index score of less than 50 out of 100, indicating that many of the fundamental conditions for high potential female entrepreneurship development are generally lacking in the majority of countries.

Although only in seventh place, the UK is a hotbed for ‘opportunity’ startups, with 71 per cent of female Total Early Phase Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) businesses started to: exploit a good opportunity, increase outcome, or fulfil personal aims – in contrast to those businesses started by individuals who have no other employment options. The UK scored the same percentage here as the US.

The UK was also one of only five countries to achieve the highest score (100) for its SME training (the others being Australia, France, Sweden and the US). This measured SME training by its geographic availability across a country, its accessibility to women as well as men, its affordability for the majority of intended beneficiaries, its cultural appropriateness, and its taking into account women’s time constraints e.g. childcare.

And out of the 30 countries sampled, the UK achieved the highest labour force balance, measured as a 40:60 ratio of women to men across industries. But most notably, 91 per cent of UK women see no perceivable differences between male and female executives. It shows confidence in women’s leadership and positive attitudes towards women in decision-making positions including those held by ‘high-potential’ female entrepreneurs

“To harness the full potential of the low performing countries, the Gender-GEDI results demonstrate that basic improvements are required in terms of access to equal legal rights and education as well as acceptance of women’s social and economic empowerment,” said Ruta Aidis, project director for the Gender-GEDI. “For countries with moderate scores, to improve their rankings, they should focus both on current women’s enterprise development interventions and support as well as basic improvements in the business-enabling environment.”

The 2014 Gender-GEDI demonstrates that top-performing countries are not necessarily the ones with the highest GDP levels; rather they are those who have committed to improving the conditions for female entrepreneurship on several fronts simultaneously, and even those with the highest scores still have room for improvement. While these countries tend to have good business-enabling environments overall, they could benefit from supporting programs designed to activate and accelerate the growth of high-potential female entrepreneurs.

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