From the women who were encouraged by Rosie The Riveter to join the American industrial workforce and were crucial during World War II , to the hardworking Samsui women who left their families behind to help build Singapore’s infrastructure, females have shown their strength and tenacity to improve their lives while also being a great asset to their community and even to the nation.
According to a report by CNBC, throughout the years the number of female entrepreneurs has been rapidly increasing by 10 percent as compared to only five percent with their male counterparts.
Donna Kelley, a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College (USA), attributes this to the gender gap which has closed in many countries, which allows women to be as likely or even more likely than men to start businesses.
So what motivates women to become entrepreneurs and start up businesses on their own?
How will their contributions help create opportunities for their community to flourish, contribute to their country’s success, and also boost the global economy?
And what exactly do female entrepreneurs need to make this positive change become a reality?
Female entrepreneurs are either driven by the desire to progress or the need to survive
Progress or survival?
Mastercard’s inaugural Women’s Entrepreneurial Index suggests that countries with enabling conditions will foster more Opportunity Entrepreneurs, whereas countries with less conducive supporting conditions tend to breed more Necessity Entrepreneurs:
Women living in developed economies tend to be driven by the desire to progress — either to have better financial security which helps improve retirement prospects, more flexibility in working hours to spend time with family, or they preferred to break out of the corporate world to become their own boss.
Women who are in emerging markets are led by their need to survive — either to escape a life of abuse or poverty, to earn a better living to provide basic necessities for their family, or they were unable to find a suitable job or other means of making money.
How female entrepreneurs can make a difference
What is it about women that sets them apart from the men when it comes to running a business? There are several reasons why everyone can benefit from more female entrepreneurs:
What’s the difference between female entrepreneurs and their male counterparts in terms of boosting the global economy?
Boost to local economy
Women will use up to 90% of what they earn on education, their families and communities, which goes back into the country’s economy — whereas men tend to spend their earnings on personal consumables.
Reduction of poverty
Female entrepreneurs in developing nations have been recognised to help reduce poverty with their creative business ideas and strong determination to build a better future for their children.
A study done by the United Nations found that women have different business goals from men and “righting a wrong or improving livelihood in their communities.”
Global economic growth
It is believed that since female entrepreneurs can help boost their local economy, if given enough support and opportunities, they will also be able to improve the global economy.
What kind of support do female entrepreneurs need to achieve success? Go to the next page to find out
Supporting conditions for female entrepreneurs
Although there is a rise in women starting their own businesses, female entrepreneurs take part in business at rates equal to men in only seven countries.
Women need more support in their entrepreneurship and for certain barriers to be removed, such as:
Young girls and women need positive role models to inspire them to become female entrepreneurs
1. Guidance from mentors and presence of role models
Women have different attitudes, approaches, goals, and face different challenges than men, so they need to get inspiration and advice from other female role models to guide them along the way.
Bev Hurley, who set up Enterprising Women, to help other females thinking of venturing into business, explains, “One of the barriers to startups is a lack of role models – that’s what women say – they feel very alone. But they can be inspired by hearing about or seeing somebody like them – not a superstar – who has made a go of it.”
In fact, a study has shown that female entrepreneurs can achieve better results after receiving entrepreneurship education in combination with supportive mentoring programmes.
2. Better funding and basic financial services
Women face more discrimination and due to unfair stereotypes investors might view female start-ups to be less reliable investments than men’s.
Successful entrepreneurs are also usually pictured as males, such as Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, which is why women might have a tougher time to secure funding for their business.
Candida Brush, a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College (USA) says, “It may be time for the media, educators and funders to recognise that successful entrepreneurs are not all like Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates.”
Women can benefit from entrepreneurship education
3. Access to training in business and financial skills
One of the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs is that they generally tend to lack experience in:
- Accounting and risk management
- Legal, tax and regulatory compliance
- The use of technology
- Strategic planning
- Hiring and evaluating personnel
Once women have a great idea in mind and the start-up capital they need, they will also require some business and financial skills training in order to be successful.
4. Defying societal expectations
Mastercard’s Index of Women’s Advancement 2016 reports that there are higher expectations for women to assume their traditional roles as wives and mothers, which is believed to play a part towards building a nation’s social stability.
Women also have to find the right balance between being decisive and assertive enough for the business world, yet still maintaining their femininity.
Research shows that when it comes to social behaviour, women feel the pressure “to measure up to an impossible standard” — to be witty and smart, but not too much as it can be perceived as threatening to men.
Singapore’s developed market provides enabling conditions for female entrepreneurs
Female entrepreneurship in Singapore
Mastercard’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Index reveals that Singapore ranks fifth place out of 16 in Asia Pacific to have favourable conditions for female entrepreneurship.
The top country with the highest scores for fostering female entrepreneurs being New Zealand, followed by Australia, Thailand and the Philippines — and the bottom three include India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
According to Deborah Heng, Mastercard Singapore’s country manager, women here have access to quality education, career development and mainstream financial services, and that they are increasingly playing a more active role in the local economy.
She says, “Given these encouraging factors, female entrepreneurs in Singapore are well-positioned to rise above the challenges through a robust network, strong social infrastructure, as well as easy access to capital in order to pursue their personal goal to become a successful entrepreneur.”
So if you are living in a developed nation like Singapore and aspire to venture into business on your own, just be confident and take advantage of the conducive supporting conditions available to become the successful female entrepreneur you dream to be!
Watch our special video about female entrepreneurs:
Are you a woman who has ever thought of starting your own business or already run one? Who are your favourite inspirational female entrepreneurs? Share your stories and thoughts with us in the comments section below!