While female entrepreneurship is often founded on necessity and grit, strong supporting conditions such as access to financial services and ease of doing business pave the way for progress in businesses owned by women, according to findings from the inaugural Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs.
These enabling conditions are pivotal in overcoming the two main obstacles that most discourage women from becoming entrepreneurs – cultural biases and fewer opportunities for their advancement.
Overall, developed markets top the index, led by New Zealand first (74.4), Canada (72.4) and the United States (69.9). These countries have the strongest conditions that support women business ownership, such as robust small and mid-sized business communities, high quality of governance and ease of doing business.
Here are the top 10 markets with the strongest supporting conditions and opportunities for women to thrive as entrepreneurs:
On the other hand, lower-income economies such as Uganda (34.8 percent), Bangladesh (31.6 percent) and Vietnam (31.4 percent) have some of the highest percentages of women entrepreneurs, driven mostly by necessity as opposed to being inspired by business opportunities.
Women business owners as a % of all business owners – Top 10 markets
See: Gender-Balance at Work: Women-Owned Firms Emerge as a Potent Force for Global Economic Growth
“The prevalence of ambitious, resourceful women should be regarded as a prime business opportunity. As society addresses existing cultural bias, we will do our part to help create those conditions that will strengthen and fuel the foundation for personal and economic growth,” said Martina Hund-Mejean, Chief Financial Officer, Mastercard.
“By increasing access to critical networks, our study shows that women are more able to recognize their full potential, achieve their goals and ultimately accelerate more inclusive growth. We have a fantastic opportunity to address cultural and organizational issues and further empower women leaders,” said Ann Cairns, President, International Markets, Mastercard.
The Index suggests that countries with enabling conditions foster more Opportunity-Driven Entrepreneurs (driven by desire to progress) while countries with less conducive supporting conditions tend to breed more Necessity-Driven Entrepreneurs (driven by need to survive). It also explores varying factors that help or hinder women entrepreneurs.
According to the Index, some of the biggest obstacles that hinder women from venturing into business include lack of financial funding/venture capital, regulatory restrictions and institutional inefficiencies, lack of self-belief and entrepreneurial drive, fear of failure, socio-cultural restrictions, and lack of training and education.
In nearly all of the 54 economies covered, at least one or more of these constraints are holding back the progress of women as business owners.
Also read: Facebook Launches New Initiative to Support Women Founded Start-ups in India: SheLeadsTech
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