26 January 2018

A brief overview of women entrepreneurship in the EU and the USA


Author: Oana Bouraoui

The question of how women can overcome gender bias within cultures and succeed in their own right as entrepreneurs is on everybody’s mind as women still lag behind men when it comes to starting businesses and securing funding for them.

In the last couple years there was a big growth in female entrepreneurs, especially in the tech industry and startups. However, in spite of that, entrepreneurship still remains a male bastion.

Current situation of female entrepreneurs

In the EU women constitute 52% of the total European population but only 34.4% of the EU self-employed and 30% of start-up entrepreneurs. Female creativity and entrepreneurial potential are an underexploited source of economic growth and jobs that should be further developed.

This is a reminder that we need to call attention to the fact that there is a need to do much more in order to put women entrepreneurs first.

In the USA it seems that the golden age for women entrepreneurs has finally begun with 40 % of new entrepreneurs in the United States being women — the highest percentage since 1996, according to the 2016 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity.

The Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute created the Female Entrepreneurship Index, considered to be world’s most comprehensive diagnostic tool that measures high potential female entrepreneurship by analyzing entrepreneurial ecosystems, business environments, and individual aspirations.

The findings of the 2015 research clearly indicate that there are systematic gaps around the world in terms of how well countries support women to start high-growth-oriented firms.


Source: GEDI

Main challenges faced by female entrepreneurs

When establishing and running a business, women face challenges such as: limited access to capital and technology, a lack of networks and knowledge resources, limited access to information, legal and policy obstacles to business ownership and development and reconciling business and family concerns.

Lack of networks, knowledge, and links to high value markets further constrain female entrepreneurship and unfavorable business and regulatory environments are among the barriers that still impede them from accessing finance.

The fact that many emerging markets financial institutions have yet to develop a sustainable strategy to address this significant market gap represents a missed opportunity and constraints private sector development.

Support and programs in Europe

The European Commission promotes and supports female entrepreneurship through the Small Business Act and the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan.

One of the Commission’s main initiatives is to support networking among female entrepreneurs, potential female entrepreneurs and support organisations.

The EU Prize for Women Innovators is awarded to women who have received EU research and innovation funding at some point in their careers, and recently founded or co-founded a successful company based on their innovative ideas.

A set of tools, networks and platforms, have also been created by the EC in order to further support the growth and development of women lead entrepreneurship.

To name just a few:

  • WEgate-platform: a European network meant to promote women’s entrepreneurship
  • The European Community of Women Business Angels and women entrepreneurs has the objective to increase the number of Women Business Angels in Europe and to facilitate the funding of Women Entrepreneurs
  • The European Network of Mentors for Women Entrepreneurs: a Europe-wide network of mentors that will provide women entrepreneurs in the early phase of their entrepreneurial activities with concrete business advice, sharing of knowledge and experience

U.S. Is №1 for Women Entrepreneurs, But There’s Still Room for Improvement

While the U.S. ranks №1 on the list of Female Entrepreneurship Index as the best place for women entrepreneurs, due to its overall favorable business environment and women’s job mobility in the private sector, it scored a 71 on a 100-point scale. In other words, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

The United States is recognized for its culture of entrepreneurship and GES is just a good example. With women representing more than 50 % of GES delegates in 2017, this is a welcome change and forums like the global summit not only help increase participation, but also empower female entrepreneurs.

Very worth mentioning in this context is the initiative lead by the The World Bank Group to enable more than $1 billion to help grow Women Entrepreneurship. The United States and Germany initiated the idea and will serve as  founding members along with other donor countries like Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom.

“Women’s economic empowerment is critical to achieve the inclusive economic growth required to end extreme poverty, which is why it has been such a longstanding priority for us

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim

We-Fi (Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative) will work to enable more than $1 billion of financing to improve access to capital, provide technical assistance, and invest in other projects and programs that support women and women-led SMEs in World Bank Group client countries.

We end with this quote that illustrates best the importance of sustained and continuous efforts for encouraging women entrepreneurs who face numerous challenges to financing, owning, and growing a business.

“Unleashing the power of female entrepreneurship can have a dramatic effect on a country’s economy. The research clearly supports the assertion that key things need to be fixed in order for female entrepreneurship to survive and flourish.”

– Karen Quintos, chief marketing officer (CMO) and senior vice president Dell

If the growth of women entrepreneurship is a topic of interest for you, “A Transatlantic Perspective on Women in Entrepreneurship”, an event organized by the The European Young Innovators Forum is something you can’t miss.

For more details and registration click this link!