Measuring the BEE for WOBs in LAC

Taking on those who might attribute gender gaps in business performance to differences in entrepreneurial drive, commitment or motivation, there is a growing body of analysis focused on how the business-enabling environment (BEE) affects the development of women-owned businesses (WOBs). We womenablers are well aware that a woman entrepreneur can be as committed and motivated as all get-out, but her enterprise will not grow as strongly as one owned by her male peers if (for example) she cannot own property in her own name – thereby depriving her of the collateral needed to fuel the growth of her business via access to capital.

Property ownership and capital access are among the 49 input variables in five key categories (security & stability, business climate, finance, capacity and social services) that are codified and analyzed in a new regional assessment of women’s entrepreneurship in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The WEVentureScope, from the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), was announced in a launch event last week. Featuring speakers from the MIF, the Economist Intelligence Unit, which conducted the analysis (and which brought us the Women’s Economic Opportunity Index), and a panel of experts, the event announced the availability of a summary report as well as a marvelously interactive web site ( which allows users to change the weighting of different factors and see how it affects a country’s overall score.

At present, the WEVentureScope analyzes and ranks 20 countries in the region – ensuring coverage across the region but focusing on countries with a higher level of data availability. In this inaugural effort, these five countries lead the list:

  • Chile (scoring 64.8 out of a possible 100):
  • Peru (62.4);
  • Columbia (61.8);
  • Mexico (60.2): and
  • Uruguay (60.0).

During the announcement event (which you can watch at your leisure by clicking on the link to the archived event below – the event starts at 1:45:00 and runs just under 2 hours), the point was made that, even among these top-ranked countries, there is much room for improvement, given that the top score is just two-thirds of the way to a perfect score of 100. Speakers also mentioned the challenge of comparative data, and the hope that a report such as this will spur more governments to start keeping the sort of sex-disaggregated data and statistics that could add new countries to this effort in future years.

Women’s Entrepreneurial VentureScope Launch Event

Visit the web site to learn more, read the news release, download the report, and play with the weighting of different environmental factors.

This effort is an important step forward in understanding the barriers to entry and growth of women-owned firms in the region, and to informing policy and programmatic action to support their improved success. ¡Viva las mujeres empresarias!

The Most Womenabling Research Studies of 2010

In tandem with our list of the top ten womenabling news and events of the year – highlighted in the previous blogpost – we’d now like to share our list of the most noteworthy womenabling research reports of 2010. Here they are, listed in alphabetical order by report title.

You might notice that there are 11 rather than a “top ten,” but we couldn’t decide which one to take out. And we might even have had 12 if we’d only seen a GEM women’s entrepreneurship report this year …

Take a look at these important studies, and save them in your womenabling reference files. Happy New Year!

A New “Women’s Economic Opportunity Index” Joins Other Gender Equality Indices: Close, But No Cigar

A new gender equality index enters the fray, this time from The Economist magazine’s Economist Intelligence Unit. The Women’s Economic Opportunity Index is comprised of 26 indicators grouped into five main areas – labor policy and practice, access to finance, education and training, women’s legal and social status, and general business environment – and purports to “evaluate every aspect of the economic and social value chain for women, from fertility to retirement.”
WEO report cover
However – as with other gender equality indices (including the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index and the UN’s Gender Development Index) – entrepreneurial activity is not part of the equation.

What countries come out on top in the EIU-WEO Index?

  • Sweden
  • Belgium
  • Norway
  • Finland
  • Germany

However, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor surveys, these countries have a relatively low share of adult women engaging in entrepreneurial behavior:

  • Sweden, 5% of adult women own a business
  • Belgium, 3%
  • Norway, 8%
  • Finland, 10%
  • Germany, 5%

Certainly economic opportunity includes more than self-employment, but until these international indices include some aspect of entrepreneurial behavior, they will not capture the full extent of women’s economic opportunity. Easier said than done, however. The main reason such data are not included is that this invaluable information is not yet available to the same extent as are health, education, labor, and political data. More’s the pity.