It’s no secret that there are too few women in the advisory industry and on corporate boards. But when it comes to women as entrepreneurs across the globe, the outlook is brighter.

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Since 2015, total entrepreneurial activity among women has increased by 10%, and the gender gap has narrowed by 5%, finds the 2016/17 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (the GEM) — a study that’s sponsored by colleges, universities and organizations from across the globe. Those results are based on a comparison of the findings for the 63 economies that were polled in both the 2015 and most recent study.

Also, over the last year, the study says 163 million women were starting businesses across 74 economies worldwide, while 111 million were running established businesses.

One of this year’s GEM report co-authors, Massachusetts-based Babson College professor Donna Kelley, highlights the “contribution [women entrepreneurs] make toward the growth and well-being of their societies.” They not only support their families but also provide “employment for those in their communities, and products and services that bring new value to the world around them,” she says.

Looking at gender equality and perceived opportunity, Canada ranks in the middle of the pack, according to the GEM report. The country’s female/male total entrepreneurial activity ratio is 0.66 and it ranks 33/64, while its female/male opportunity ratio is 1.03 and it ranks 16/64.

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Report highlights

  • The rate of total female entrepreneurial activity was lowest in countries such as Germany, Jordan, Italy and France (at 3%), compared to 37% in Senegal, a country on Africa’s west coast.
  • In five economies in two regions (Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam in Asia, and Mexico and Brazil in Latin America), women participated in entrepreneurship at equal or higher rates than men.
  • Ten percent of all female entrepreneurs surveyed operate their businesses on their own and have no intention to add any employees over the next five years — Europe has the highest frequency of one-person female business activity, meaning they have no intentions of employing anyone else.
  • One concerning trend is this: “As economic development and educational level increases, entrepreneurial participation among women declines and the gender gap increases,” says GEM executive director Mike Herrington. But, he notes, “[…] fewer women in highly developed innovation-driven economies have exited businesses” once they start them.
  • On average, women exhibit a 20% or greater likelihood than men of citing necessity as a motive for starting a new business. Also, compared to their male counterparts, female entrepreneurs have a 5% greater likelihood of innovativeness.


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