As Gayle Tzemach Lemmon points out in her Tedx talk ‘women entrepreneurs: example not exception’, the idea of entrepreneurship is often automatically correlated with men. However, this traditional view underestimates the current state of affairs, as young female entrepreneurs are on the rise across the world. According to the European Commission, around 30% of all new startups are founded by women, and in China the figure is around 20%.
However, that’s not to say that there aren’t still barriers standing in the way of female entrepreneurs. As well as cultural mores that impede women from heading up a business, in some countries a lack of basic resources can hold women back; for instance limited access to education or finance.
Female entrepreneurs, a global phenomenon
Nevertheless, young female entrepreneurs are creating businesses globally. In developing countries women entrepreneurs have been called ‘the emerging market of the emerging markets’ and a Goldman Sachs report estimates that women-run businesses have the potential for increasing emerging economies’ GDP by 12%.
In more economically developed countries there is also room for more women entrepreneurs. The European Commission states female creativity and entrepreneurial potential are an underexploited source of economic growth that should be further developed. Or, as Ruta Aidis, project director of the Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard succinctly puts it: “without women participating equally, and innovating, creating and scaling businesses, countries are going to miss out”.
While there’s undoubtedly more opportunities for women in developed nations, female entrepreneurs are still not reaching their potential and they continue to be undercapitalized. But the situation for female entrepreneurs is constantly improving, and certain countries are leading the way: in a 2015 survey ranking the best places for women entrepreneurs, the USA, Australia, Canada, Sweden, the UK and France hit the top spots. The index is based on five categories: business environment, gendered access, leadership and rights, pipeline for entrepreneurship and potential entrepreneur leaders.
Young female entrepreneurs, what does the future hold?
Students of the Global Entrepreneurship Program study in three different continents to become tomorrow’s success stories. What does
the future hold for these young female entrepreneurs? Studies suggest that women, and in particular millennial women, are more likely to use their entrepreneurial skills to start businesses with a social or environmental purpose, and are creating jobs for themselves which
A recent graduate of the Global Entrepreneurship Program, Lea von Bidder started her digital women’s health startup soon after the program. . She credits the GEP course with getting her into the entrepreneurial mindset, where “entrepreneurship becomes your life”. Her startup, Ava, has created the world’s first fertility tracking sensor bracelet.
Another emlyon success story is Clara Baglione, whose startup Beeshary is an online platform which connects travellers to local people who want to share their culture and tradition. She says the Global Entrepreneurship Program is great platform for future entrepreneurs and it can open a lot of doors. She advises students to be open, active and appreciate criticism.
Global Entrepreneurship Program graduate Helga Quijano launched her social enterprise NEGSO, a consultancy service which creates and supports sustainable social businesses in vulnerable communities in Colombia. She believes the Global Entrepreneurship Program was valuable in acquiring a global outlook and open mindset and gave her the ability to change, adapt and deal with any person or situation.
It’s a good time to be a young female entrepreneur, and things are only going to get better: as more women break the glass ceiling they help other women to do so too. Many networks have been set up by female entrepreneurs to support and mentor one another, but even just more visibility of women in male-dominated fields encourages the next generation. And we all benefit from women’s contribution – according to a report, although women represent a lower percentage of entrepreneurship than men, they tend to start more business ventures and also tend to earn more money with them. Great motivation for the young female entrepreneurs of the future!