By Rhonda Campbell
Women in emerging economies are starting their own businesses at higher rates than women in more developed economies. This could point to the thought that perhaps necessity is not only the mother of invention, but also the mother of women’s business expansion.
Women Businesses in Emerging and U.S. Economies
In its 2010 Women’s Report, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) states that “more than 104 million women between 18-64 years old were actively engaged in starting and running new business ventures, contributing significantly to entrepreneurship in all 59 economies studied.”
What’s equally impressive is that “another 83 million women were running established businesses that they started over 3½ years earlier.” That means, a cool 187 million women in the 59 economies studied were operating their own business in 2010. Nearly half (45.5 percent) of these women entrepreneurs were managing their businesses in emerging economies (e.g. Ghana, Egypt, Iran, Jamaica, Vanuatu). In Ghana alone, 55 percent of the businesses were owned by women.
However, as it is in the United States, so it is in other parts of the world. Women business owners employ fewer workers than their male counterparts. This is due in part to the fact that women actually expect to grow their employee base less than men. Why this key area of business growth is less a focus for women isn’t clear. What is clear is that overall business growth necessitates employee growth. When businesses grow in size and scope (e.g. patents, products, services, revenues), more hands are generally required to be on deck. That said, the next real indicator of the growth of women businesses might be measured in size and scale of organizations women own and manage.
Steps to Strengthen Women Owned Businesses
Furthermore, the 2010 Women’s Report found that women are (certainly, you’re not surprised) as innovative as men. In other words, women create and launch new products and services at a pace that’s on par with their male counterparts.
What also comes as no surprise is the fact that governments and national populaces that support women owned businesses strengthen their economies as a whole. In the United States and abroad steps to strengthen women owned businesses involve:
- Offering women increased opportunities to gain access to capital
- Establishing mentoring programs for women entrepreneurs at early stages of business development
- Encouraging women to major in degree programs and courses that teach practical business growth strategies
- Promote community wide attitudes (including attitudes of family members) that support and encourage business ownership by women
It’s clear. Women have come a long way in the business arena. However, work remains as there continues to be significant room for progress. Perhaps no one plays more major a role in this progress than women entrepreneurs. After all, as women change their own perceptions and beliefs about managing million and billion dollar accounts, spearheading mergers and acquisitions, negotiating critical tasks and growing their employee base today’s women business leaders may take giant steps forward. They will also encourage their daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters to believe in and live out their loftiest dreams.
Rhonda Campbell, an East Coast journalist, is the owner of Off The Shelf radio and publisher of Long Walk Up and the forthcoming Love Pour Over Me.