According to the world economic forum, the under-representation of women in business is a missed opportunity, from both social and economic standpoints. This is because women represent the largest market opportunity and control $20 trillion in annual spending. When we invest in women, their communities, states and countries prosper, which generates a multiplier effect and sets a positive example for the next generation of girls. In fact, it’s been shown that when women earn an income, they invest 90% back into their communities.
However, making it in business is no easy feat, especially for women, who face a long list of challenges that their male counterparts do not. These include cultural and political barriers, a lack of mentoring and a serious lack of funding. The table below indicates the ratio of female founded businesses to male founded businesses.
The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019 is a congregation of powerful and influential business and policy leaders with the capacity to create impact and increase odds for women entrepreneurs. Therefore, in order to ensure ensure parity and prosperity for women entrepreneurs globally, world leaders must consider the following four issues.
1. How can we improve access to and development of financial and human capital?
Both the private and public sectors can start by:
– Creating incentives for individuals and organizations to invest in women-owned companies through venture funds, corporate venture, private equity and social capital
– Modernizing existing government certification, grant and loan programmes that help women-owned businesses compete to reflect changing investment models
– Creating new sources of capital, such as crowdfunding and impact investments
2. How can we help facilitate connections by increasing access to local and global networks and markets?
To start, local governments and business leaders should:
– Support trade agreements that further liberalize trade and open new markets for businesses of all sizes
– Promote global and open standards, as well as reliable mechanisms for cross-border data transfers, business support services and networks, while providing sufficient protections for privacy and information security
– Support mentorship efforts, through financial support; encouragement of multiplier platforms such as accelerators; continuing education and training programmes; and facilitated networking events
3. How can we help entrepreneurs embrace diversity in their hiring, culture and thought?
Organizations that embrace gender diversity are 15% more likely to succeed. When you add ethnic diversity, the figure rises to 35%. The public and private sectors can promote inclusivity by:
– Incentivizing leaders to approach diversity as a core business strategy, and to integrate diversity with other priority business drivers and talent management strategies
– Encouraging leaders to recognize and address the role of bias – both conscious and unconscious – through training programmes
– Promote positive success stories of female founders and diverse business owners through the media, conferences and leadership movements
– Encourage diversity on boards, in venture partnerships and on executive teams
4. How can we support women’s entrepreneurial growth in the face of changing technology?
Access to technology levels the playing field for entrepreneurs globally. Government and business leaders can help women entrepreneurs thrive by:
– Emphasizing science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects (STEM) and digital literacy in education and early training programmes
– Enabling access to broadband globally
– Increasing awareness among women of the hardware, software and digital resources they can access to scale their companies