A new accounting of the most supportive cities for growth-oriented women entrepreneurs was recently released at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, just ahead of the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. The WE Cities Index lists the 25 cities globally that provide the most supportive capital, technology, talent, culture and markets for growth-oriented women, a population they refer to as “high potential women entrepreneurs.” Those cities are:
New York City
the San Francisco Bay Area
For an interactive look at how each of these cities ranks in the five major index areas, visit this web page.
The WE Cities Index follows on the heels of the Global Women Entrepreneurs Scorecard, which was released the prior year. That effort analyzed 21 variables in a five-element framework, and ranked 31 countries around the globe for their supportive policies and programs to help women scale their enterprises. The findings of the country-focused effort (which was supported in part from Womenable) were highlighted in this Womenable blogpost from 2015.
Tops on that list were the United States, Canada, Australia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom — home to nine of the 25 top-ranked global cities for women entrepreneurs who are shooting for the stars. Godspeed on your journey, ladies!
Women-Owned or -Led Firms Match Peers in Economic Clout
As we womenablers are well aware, monitoring the growth of women-owned firms into the upper reaches of business achievement is stymied not only by the capping of business revenues published by government statistics into the “$1 million+” category but by limiting the accounting of women-owned firms to just those businesses that are 51% or more owned by a woman or women – ignoring the contributions of women entrepreneurs who, by virtue of external investors or sharing equity with senior management, have become plurality rather than majority owners of their enterprises.
There’s now new information out from American Express and Dun & Bradstreet – based on D&B’s extensive database of commercially active U.S. firms – which clearly shows that, when those categorical definitions are shed, women entrepreneurs are scaling into the upper reaches of business achievement at rates equal to the average enterprise.
Women entrepreneurs are just as likely as their male counterparts to own a middle market enterprise: Less than 1% (0.7%) of commercially-active businesses are in the middle market (defined as firms with between $10 million and $1 billion in revenues). Similar shares of women-owned/women-led firms (0.4%) and majority women-owned firms (0.7%) are found in the middle market.
Women are moving into the middle market at impressive rates: Between 2008 and 2014, while the number of middle market firms increased by 4.1% overall, the number of women-owned or -led firms in the middle market has increased by 32.4%, and the number of majority women-owned firms in the middle market has increased by 23.6%. Thus, women and are entering into the middle market at rates five to seven times the rate of all commercially-active businesses.
Women-owned and -led firms in the middle market account for a large share of employment and revenues: Women-owned/women-led middle market firms comprise just 0.4% of all women-owned or -led firms, yet employ one-quarter (23%) of workers and contribute one-quarter (25%) of the revenues accounted for by all women-owned/women-led firms. Similarly, majority (51%+) women-owned firms in the middle market represent 0.7% of all women-owned firms, yet employ one-quarter (23%) of workers and contribute one-third (32%) of revenues accounted for by majority women-owned firms.
Women-owned/-led firms stand toe to toe with their peers in terms of economic clout: Sixteen percent (16%) of middle market firms with a female CEO generate $50 million or more in revenues, as do 17% of all middle market enterprises. Further, 16% of female-led middle market firms employ 500 or more workers, as do 15% of all middle market enterprises.
In addition to a look at trends among women-owned and women-owned and -led firms, the report also investigates the growth of minority-owned firms in the middle market.
To download and read this exciting new report, click on the link above or visit Womenable’s authored research page (which also includes another growth-focused analysis that may be of interest, “Growing Under the Radar.”). An infographic summarizing the key findings of this analysis from a women’s entrepreneurship perspective is available on Womenable’s Infogr.am page.
It’s one thing to encourage more women to start their own entrepreneurial ventures, but what are the elements that can ensure their future growth and success? And what countries are doing a good (and not so good) job of providing a “womenabling” environment for growth-oriented women entrepreneurs? These are the questions asked – and answered – in the new Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard, a data-powered diagnostic tool developed by ACG Inc. with support from Dell.
The research team (of which Womenable is a member) considered the elements necessary for supporting growth-oriented, high-impact women entrepreneurs – AND what data are currently available on a regular basis – gathering and combining 21 data variables into an analytical framework comprised of five main elements:
Gendered access to resources;
Women’s leadership and legal rights;
A gendered entrepreneurial pipeline; and
Potential female entrepreneurial leaders.
The resulting analysis, conducted among 31 economies that collectively account for 76% of global GDP, finds that the following countries provide the environment most conducive to supporting high-impact women’s entrepreneurship:
At the other end of the list are countries that are not so supportive:
One important conclusion of the analysis is that even among highly-ranked countries there is much room for improvement, as the scores – calculated on a 0-100 scale – only reach 71 even in the top-ranked U.S.
And what can all of us do to help the cause? Several recommendations for action offered include:
Narrow the gender data gap by measuring progress of women entrepreneur-focused initiatives;
Prioritize female-owned businesses in public and private supply chains;
Promote and empower women in the workplace;
Raise the visibility of female role models in business; and
Build entrepreneurship skills for girls by investing in STEM education.
Learn more and download the GWEL Scorecard executive report and methodology at THIS WEB PAGE.
We’ve kept tabs on the facts and figures that have been published during the course of the year (as we do every year). Here are what we consider to be the top ten new research-based facts about women business owners and their enterprises of 2014. They fall into four general categories: money, mentoring, metrics and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Here they are, along with links to the original source material for your reference. Many happy returns of the season from Womenable!
Closing the credit cap for women-owned SMEs across the developing world as a whole could boost the growth in per capita income by over 110 basis points (1.1%) on average. ~ Goldman Sachs Global Market Institute. February 2014. Giving credit where it is due.
In an analysis of over 25,000 projects on Kickstarter, launched by 22,000 entrepreneurs between 2009 and 2012 and supported by over 1.1 million investors, researchers found that this crowdfunding platform is more hospitable than many other forms of business financing for women. For example: 1) a significant share of Kickstarter investors (40%) are women; 2) these women are more likely than men (40% versus 23%) to invest in women-led projects; and 3) women-led projects are more successful than those launched by men. The fundraising success rate for women was 69.5%, compared to 61.4% for men. ~ Dan Maroum, Alicia Robb, Orly Sade. May 2014. Gender Dynamics in Crowdfunding (Kickstarter): Evidence on Entrepreneurs, Investors, Deals and Taste Based Discrimination.
The amount of early-stage investment in companies with a woman on the executive team has tripled to 15 percent from 5 percent in the last 15 years. Despite this positive trend, 85 percent of all venture capital–funded businesses have no women on the executive team. This is the case despite the finding that businesses with a woman on the executive team are more likely to have higher valuations at both first and last funding (64 percent higher and 49 percent higher, respectively). ~ Candida G. Brush, Patricia G. Greene, Lakshmi Balachandra, Amy E. Davis. September 2014. Women Entrepreneurs 2014: Bridging the Gender Gap in Venture Capital.
In 2013 women angels represented 19.4% of the angel market, similar to 2012 (21.8%). Women-owned ventures accounted for 23% of the entrepreneurs that were seeking angel capital and 19% of these women entrepreneurs received angel investment in 2013. ~ Jeffrey Sohl, Center for Venture Research. April 2014. The Angel Investor Market in 2013: A Return to Seed Investing.
An analysis of high-growth women entrepreneurs (those with sales or employment growth of 20%+ over the past three years) in Latin America and the Caribbean finds that growing up in an entrepreneurial family helps define their entrepreneurial spirit. Both high-growth men and women are more likely than average to seek mentors to guide their growth. However, while high-growth men entrepreneurs seek mentors from outside their family, women tend to receive guidance from within their own families. ~ EY, Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank. March 2014. WEGrow: Unlocking the Growth Potential of Women Entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean.
A comparison of a survey of women in technology firms launched between 2002 and 2012 with a more general sampling of technology firms founded in 2004 (the Kauffman Firm Survey) finds that female and male entrepreneurs have a lot in common. They would seem to start their companies for similar reasons, cite similar self-perceived reasons for success, and face similar challenges. However, several differences stand out: 1) the women technology entrepreneurs surveyed don’t appear to have had inspiring role models as their principal motivation; 2) women entrepreneurs in general appear to respond differently than men do to failure, and cite lessons learned from failure as a big reason for success; and 3) there is a financing gap when it comes to high-tech and high-potential women entrepreneurs. That financing gap turns into a growth gap in terms of company outcomes. Finding ways to fill that financing gap could have a huge payoff in job creation and innovation. ~ Alicia Robb, Susan Coleman, Dane Stangler. November 2014. Sources of Economic Hope: Women’s Entrepreneurship.
In an analysis of the conditions in which growth-oriented women’s entrepreneurship can prosper, the United States (with a score of 83), Australia (80) and Sweden (73) are the top ranking countries among 30 analyzed. They are followed by France and Germany (tied at 67), Chile (55), the United Kingdom (54) and Poland (51) which all received an overall score of 50 or more. ~ Ruta Aidis, The GEDI Institute. June 2014. The Gender Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index.
As of 2012, just under one-third (29%) of the 40.6 million business owners in Europe are women, up from 26% in 2003. Over that nine-year period, the share of business owners who are female has risen most strongly in Lichtenstein (with a 16% increase in the share of entrepreneurs who are female), Iceland (+8%), and Cyprus (+8%), compared with the overall 3% increase. ~ European Commission. September 2014. Statistical Data on Women Entrepreneurs in Europe.
On average over the past 17 years, there has been a net increase of 591 women-owned businesses in the United States each and every day. The number of net new women-owned firms has fallen in the wake of the recession – there was a net increase of 714 women-owned firms per day from 2002 to 2007, and a lesser 506 per day between 2007 and 2014 – but start-up activity is increasing. Just in the past year, there have been an estimated 1,288 net new women-owned firms launched each and every day. ~ American Express OPEN & Womenable. March 2014. The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.
Women have increased their representation in STEM graduate enrollment, but that increase has been uneven across STEM fields. Women have achieved parity for PhDs in biological and medical sciences, but their enrollment continues to lag in some of the most entrepreneurial fields, such as bioengineering, mechanical, and civil engineering and materials science. Further, across all STEM fields, female PhDs have lower rates of entrepreneurship than their male colleagues (5% compared to 7%), and file fewer patents (15% vs. 28%). ~ Margaret E. Blume-Kohout for SBA Office of Advocacy. October 2014. Understanding the Gender Gap in STEM Fields Entrepreneurship.
(A 2-for-1 listing: this report also appeared in our ‘mentors’ category) A comparison of a survey of women in technology firms launched between 2002 and 2012 with a more general sampling of technology firms founded in 2004 (the Kauffman Firm Survey) finds that female and male entrepreneurs have a lot in common. They would seem to start their companies for similar reasons, cite similar self-perceived reasons for success, and face similar challenges. However, several differences stand out: 1) the women technology entrepreneurs surveyed don’t appear to have had inspiring role models as their principal motivation; 2) women entrepreneurs in general appear to respond differently than men do to failure, and cite lessons learned from failure as a big reason for success; and 3) there is a financing gap when it comes to high-tech and high-potential women entrepreneurs. That financing gap turns into a growth gap in terms of company outcomes. Finding ways to fill that financing gap could have a huge payoff in job creation and innovation. ~ Alicia Robb, Susan Coleman, Dane Stangler. November 2014. Sources of Economic Hope: Women’s Entrepreneurship.
Yesterday, Dell hosted the fifth gathering of the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (#DWEN) in its hometown, Austin Texas. In addition to sharing their own stories of struggle and success, these women of accomplishment also saw Dell release their second annual Gender Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index report (also known by the moniker #Gender-GEDI). The Index analyzes the conditions favorable for high-growth potential women entrepreneurs – including laws, programs, and individual characteristics. This year saw the analysis expand from 17 to 30 countries, which collectively account for 66% of the world’s female population and 75% of global GDP. The analysis finds that:
The most womenabling economies in the world are the United States, Australia and Sweden, with scores of 83, 80 and 73, respectively. They are followed by France and Germany (tied at 67), Chile (55), the United Kingdom (54) and Poland (51);
With the top tier economies receiving scores of 51 to 83 on a 0-100 scale, there is room for improvement. Indeed, the other 22 countries received scores under 50, including four countries (Uganda, Egypt, Bangladesh and Pakistan) receiving Gender-GEDI scores under 20;
Among the 17 countries included in both the 2013 and 2014 Gender GEDI Index reports, four increased their ranking and four declined. Japan improved the most, up three places from 12th to 9th. Brazil jumped two places, from 14th to 12th. The biggest decline was seen in Malaysia, which dropped four spots, from 9th to 13th; and
When comparing the rankings of countries included in the Gender-GEDI analysis with those also included in the non-gendered GEDI rankings, ten countries rank better for high-potential women’s entrepreneurship than for general entrepreneurial conditions. In alphabetical order, they are: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Germany, Ghana, Mexico, Panama, Russia, South Africa, and Thailand.
Read more about the report’s highlights in the study news release, and click HERE to learn more about the Gender-GEDI and how it is constructed. And for you fellow statistical mavens, click HERE to download and read the 46-page executive report. A more complete report, including background tables and more country-level detail, will be available soon – and when it is, you’ll be able to find it on Womenable’s Reference Library web page.
At a recent event in their Washington DC headquarters, the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund showcased the results of a new survey conducted among high-growth women entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).
Undertaken in concert with Ernst & Young, the study, WEGRow: Unlocking the Growth Potential of Women Entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean, utilizes a blend of qualitative and quantitative methods, focuses on nine countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay), and explores the issue of what makes high-growth women entrepreneurs tick. High-growth in this case means that the firms in question have grown by 20% or more for at least the past three years.
What did the study find? Among other things that:
the women are likely to come from entrepreneurial families,
they started with a growth intention from day one, and
these high-growth women entrepreneurs have strong support networks which allow them to shoulder the responsibility that a high-growth enterprise entails.
Recommendations for future action? Strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem to provide better support networks for these and other women, providing better access to capital, and promoting policies that can enable growth and provide better support for women to “balance” for the many roles they juggle. Just as important, perhaps – showcasing these women as role models, in order to make them less unique and increase community acceptance of women business owners who are not afraid to dream big.
This study comes on the heels of a ground-breaking effort, the WEVentureScope, published by the IADB-MIF last year. Muchas gracias, MIF!
For more about the report, including video commentary from some of the women entrepreneurs profiled in the report, visit: wegrow.fomin.org
The National Women’s Business Council, a bipartisan women’s enterprise advisory body in the US established by the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988, has published their 2013 annual report to the President, US Congress, and the US Small Business Administration.
The colorful 40-page report contains nine policy/program recommendations grouped within four pillars (Guess which one is our favorite!):
Access to Capital
Access to Markets
Job Creation and Growth
Among the recommendations are two, in our view, worth calling out and commenting upon:
“Implement an annual Survey of Business Owners model-based program.” The SBO is the Census Bureau’s quinquennial business census, which provides we womenablers with a mother-lode of invaluable statistics on the number and growth of women-owned firms. However, being quinquennial means that the data are only published every five years, and business moves much faster than that. Of course, Womenable and American Express OPEN have published an annual State of Women-Owned Businesses reports that provide estimates in between SBO reports (see a listing of these reports HERE), but more frequent government-published data would be extraordinarily useful. However, such an expansion of SBO is also very unlikely, given the expense required and the current state of the US budget. And yet, to paraphrase Robert Browning,
“Ah, but a woman’s reach should exceed her grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?”
“Increase the number of women-owned or -led firms participating in incubators and accelerators and consider establishing an accelerator and incubator program focused on women-owned or -led firms.” Womenable has long pointed out the need for paying much more attention to issues of growth and development of existing women-owned enterprises. This is another timely recommendation, but the NWBC missed an important opportunity to call out a key partnership in this endeavor: the Nation’s 100+ women’s business centers. Rather than trying to make existing incubators and business accelerators more female-friendly (good luck with that), we should expand the remit of and financial support for WBCs to offer growth-focused programming. Indeed, most of them already do – but they are doing so outside the “marching orders” provided to them by the SBA and Congress, which essentially puts WBCs in velvet handcuffs and says that all government funds can only go toward serving nascent firms and socially and economically disadvantaged populations.
The Council has done a good job of keeping the momentum going over a period – over the past three or more years, really – of staff and leadership turnover. There’s a new Chair in place, but no Executive Director at the moment. Despite that, they’ve published a report that’s well worth reading, and using for womenabling advocacy efforts in the United States and beyond. Keep up the good work, NWBC!