Grist for the Mill: Supporting Growth-Oriented Women Entrepreneurs

There’s increasing interest in moving beyond supporting the entry of more women into business ownership, toward a greater understanding of what growth-oriented women business owners need to get to the next level in their entrepreneurial journey. There are two new reports that shed some light on this issue.

gristmillFirst, infoDev, a multi-donor program in the World Bank Group, recently published Growing Women-led Enterprises in the Mekong: Testing a Methodology for Accelerating Growth. This report, supported by the government of Finland, pilot tested a series of workshops, peer-to-peer sessions and one-on-one coaching over a six-month period in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam.

Secondly, the World Bank’s Trade and Competitiveness group also just published a policy note entitled, Supporting Growth-Oriented Women Entrepreneurs: A Review of Evidence and Key Challenges, which draws upon and synthesizes existing research from within and outside the Bank.

Each of these reports is well worth reading on their own, but what is perhaps most interesting and relevant is that they draw some similar conclusions:

  • Short-term training with little or no follow-up does not always lead to measurable business growth. This can be a funding challenge for defined-length, externally sponsored projects and speaks of the need for a greater focus on sustainability measures and local partnerships;
  • Established women business owners benefit greatly from peer-to-peer learning. Merely providing networking opportunities for women business owners can reap valuable rewards;
  • Selecting women who are “growth-oriented” can be challenging: mindsets may matter as much as recent performance; and
  • Existing programs are very heterogeneous, with a wide variety of interventions. This reduces the ability to draw conclusions about what works best and share lessons learned.

Adding to this new information is some research conducted by Womenable way back in 2007, Mapping the Missing Middle: Determining the Desire and Dimensions of Second-Stage Women Business Owners, which not only raised the point that not enough policy and programmatic attention was being paid to established women-owned firms that had not yet cracked the million-dollar revenue barrier, but sized this population at between 16% (if defined to include firms with employees or between $100,000 and $1 million in revenues) and fully 91% (if having employees and revenues over $100,000 was not a criterion) of the entire women-owned business population. A short survey was conducted among established women business owners in the United States and found that “missing middle” women business owners:

  • Were indeed mostly growth-oriented – 64% were in search of tools for business growth;
  • Had a much greater appetite for information than the average woman business owner; and
  • Wanted to learn from one another, would prefer just-in-time, experiential learning over classroom-style information, and would value the guidance of a mentor.

We applaud this increased focus on providing “grist for the mill” of business growth – and for the grist provided by these two new reports!

A Womenabling Research Round-up

A number of reports of interest to womenablers have been published recently. Just in case you missed ’em, here is a round-up of what’s caught our attention recently. In alphabetical order by report title, they are:iStock_000015922195Large

mpw_logo2_1000pxAnd, of course, the 16th annual listing from Fortune of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business is out. Check out not only the complete global list, but their separate list of the Most Powerful Women of Europe, the Middle East & Africa.

14th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report Published

The 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor was recently unveiled at an event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (ranked 12th in the world on the ease of doing business in the World Bank’s Doing Business rankings).
GEM2012
This is the 14th year for the unique and impactful international effort. Starting in 1999 with 10 countries, the GEM collaboration now includes 69 world economies accounting for 87% of global GDP.

Of special interest to we womenablers, of course, is the ongoing accounting of the continuing gap in the share of adult females starting and growing businesses compared to their male counterparts. In nearly every region of the world, women are less likely to be starting new enterprises or to own established businesses.

The new report, however, indicates that the gender gap in business ownership has virtually disappeared in sub-Saharan Africa. The gap is widest in the Middle East and North Africa, where men are 2.8 times as likely as women to own a business.

Conversely, according to the new report, there are five countries in which entrepreneurship rates among women are actually higher than among men: Ecuador, Ghana, Nigeria, Panama, and Thailand.

To learn more about the report GEM and this latest effort, read the recent news release, visit the GEM website, or download the report.

Finally, check out the series of special reports on women and entrepreneurship, the most recent of which was published in 2011.

App Happiness for Womenablers

Are you a womenabling data junkie like we are? Well, get ready to enter womenabling data nirvana – there are now some wonderful women’s entrepreneurship reports available for smartphone and iPad, as well as (bestill my beating heart) data-finding apps for the smartphone. Here’s a roundup:

  • The US Census Bureau has just launched America’s Economy, a smartphone app that will allow quick (well, not so quick – it loads slowly) access to the latest business stats. No women-specific stats yet, but the recently improved American FactFinder provides very ready access to the 2007 economic census data,
  • The World Bank recently launched a new Data Finder smartphone app, containing a wealth of development statistics by country and by topic – including gender,
  • The World Bank’s seminal 2012 World Development Report, Gender Equality and Development, is available as an e-publication for iPad, and
  • a lush, photo-rich e-publication app, Women of the World – from Olivier Martel, Fotopedia and the World Bank – is also available and well worth downloading from the iTunes store.

Click on and get app happy!

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!