Gender equality in funding entrepreneurs could be a boon for the global economy
According to a recent study by Aston University , men are almost twice as likely to become entrepreneurs as women. However over the last decade, the number of female business owners around the world has increased by 45 percent. RS Components have analyzed which countries are leading the way when it comes to female entrepreneurs — you can view the GIF here.
Why then, are such few women (relatively speaking) launching businesses around the world? A report by The Unilever Foundry in February 2018  found that 4 in 10 female founders say they frequently encountered gender bias whilst running their startup, and 42 percent believed that gender discrimination would stay the same as they scale up. It appears then, that cultural barriers are a large part of the issue, with women not being supported or encouraged into entrepreneurship in the same way as their male peers . The Entrepreneurs Network describes how men are 86 percent more likely than women to secure venture capital funding, and 56 percent more like to win the backing of an angel investor. Women also commonly receive fewer and smaller bank loans for their business — along with being charged more for these loans .
There are many benefits to trying to improve opportunities for female entrepreneurs, with research suggesting that closing the entrepreneurship gender gap could boost global GDP by as much as 2 percent, and the ripple effect could go far beyond financial gains . There would be the chance to benefit from new innovations, products, and services on the global market from a segment of the population that has never before been given the opportunity to reach their full entrepreneurial potential. Karen Quintos, senior vice president of Dell  comments, “Unleashing the power of female entrepreneurship can have a dramatic effect on a country’s economy. Research clearly supports the assertion that key things need to be fixed in order for female entrepreneurship to survive and flourish.”
Despite this, there still exists a glaringly obvious entrepreneurial gender gap. Only one-fifth of the six million businesses in the UK are owned by women, and there are twice as many male entrepreneurs as females, despite there being one million more women in the UK . Robert Jenrick, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, says that the fact that so few British business are started by women is “shocking” and is not as a result of lack of talent and appetite. Mr Jenrick also comments that untapped female entrepreneurship “may be the greatest economic opportunity of 21st century,” stating that Britain could be missing out on more than one million new enterprises and billions of pounds of economic activity by not addressing issues of the entrepreneurial gender gap .
Fortunately, there are steps being made to understand and tackle the barriers facing women entrepreneurs. In the UK, RBS CEO of Commercial and Private Banking Alison Rose was appointed to lead a government review in September 2018, to identify barriers faced by women when starting a business, and explore what can be done to overcome them . Recently in the USA, President Trump signed into law the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment (WEEE) Act, a law that strengthens US efforts to promote opportunity for female entrepreneurs worldwide .
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More and more countries are implementing requirements for women owned businesses to be hired, contracted, utilized, etc. It is in the world's best interest that women entrepreneurs everywhere thrive, and change is happening to make it a reality. In the U.S., women-owned businesses make up 39 percent of the 30 million small businesses, according to a recent survey by SCORE, the nation's volunteer network of business mentors. Yet those businesses only account for 4 percent of the nation's business revenue.
There are multiple organizations focused on building communities that can be cliquish, expensive with high joining and monthly fees, and still not providing the best option to promote and showcase your business. Many keep their members’ businesses only available to “members”. How does that help your business grow? It is essentially leaving money on the table for their members by not allowing their businesses to be publicized to the world even though they are paying for it.
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“The percentage of the women entrepreneurs who have completed the lifecycle of entrepreneurship (in India) is a small fraction,” opined Padmaja Ruparel, president of the Indian Angel Network (IAN). She added that Meena Ganesh was one of the rare entrepreneurs she could think of who’ve gone through the entire cycle.
Although women entrepreneurs are trickling into the startup ecosystem of India in slightly larger numbers, this in Padmaja’s view, is an important factor that needs to change.
“These women have to go through a complete lifecycle of entrepreneurship: starting a venture, raising money, exiting it, giving in to healthy returns,” she said. Until this changes, the ratio of investments in female- and male-led ventures won’t change, and this topic will continue to dominate any discussion on women entrepreneurs,” she said.
She is not wrong. A study by Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) has ranked India 52nd out of 57 countries judged on the basis of parity for women entrepreneurs. According to the Sixth Economic Census by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) only 14% businesses in India are run by women domiciled in the country. There are a total of 58.5 Mn businesses in India, but only 8.05 Mn are managed by women entrepreneurs.
Padmaja was speaking at the 2018 Annual Startup Conclave by Yes Bank on the topic of ‘Navigating the VC Landscape’ and the session was moderated by Vaibhav Agarwal, founder and CEO of Inc42.
The VC landscape is a tough terrain for women entrepreneurs to navigate, one that desperately needs smoothing, and women could do with all the help they can get in this regard.
The panel discussion attempted at gaining a better understanding of why there is there a dearth of women investors, how they can create scalable businesses, and also how they can bring consumer businesses under the lens of investors and try to leverage technology at the same time.
The panelists included Ritu Marya, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Media (India) and former editor-in-chief of Franchise India, Manu Shukla, a project officer in the IT department of the Government of Rajasthan, Dolly Bhasin, director of Incuspaze Coworking, and Nidhi Agarwal, EIR of YourNest Venture Capital.
Click Here to Read the Key Insights from the Talk