Women in business is a global trend
Women’s entrepreneurship is becoming an inextricable part of the economy not just in Russia but all over the world. There is an increasing number of business organizations headed up by female entrepreneurs. And there are many goal-oriented, proactive, and successful entrepreneurs among women.
A recent study conducted by the University of Aston in Birmingham (United Kingdom) showed that men are almost twice as likely to become entrepreneurs than women. But over the past ten years, the number of enterprises owned by women increased by 45%.
The company RS Components took data from the Mastercard Women Entrepreneurs Index for 2018 to find out which countries are leading when it comes to women in businesses.
Ghana ranked first on the list, with 46% of enterprises owned by women. Russia follows Ghana with 35%, then Uganda with 34%, and New Zealand with 33%.
The US, which used to be in second place, now places last, with just 26% of enterprises owned by women. And this, despite the fact that the country is home to a global tech center – Silicon Valley. There are thousands of companies in Silicon Valley, but just 8.8% of them belong to women.
Female entrepreneurship is a concept that has already moved past simple definitions of gender and has social implications – that is, the conscious readiness of women entrepreneurs to take into account society’s interests and development needs in their ventures.
As a rule, it is women who initiate the creation of small enterprises in the fields of education, medical and social services, developing a new direction – social entrepreneurship. The share of women in social entrepreneurship is one and a half times higher than in the classic commercial business. Female entrepreneurship is definitely a sphere that guides the development of our social environment.
Research from 70 countries illustrate the following trends. First, women entrepreneurs are actively introducing innovative technologies into business, automating business processes. Second, the share of women entrepreneurs in the IT segment is decreasing. That is, women are actively introducing innovations in business, but are producing them to a lesser extent.
The development of female entrepreneurship is a global trend. There is not only a demand for this in the world, but also real work that is being done. And not just because of social concern, but because of the economic potential that women’s entrepreneurship has. According to various sources, up to 90% of all purchases in the family are made by women. And targeted work aimed at this segment is a priority for many corporations.
Analysis of statistics from countries with developed market economies shows that business is the most successful for women in the service sector, on the small and medium-sized scale. Centuries of experience managing household chores plays an important role here.
In Moscow, the government also supports women’s pursuit of entrepreneurship by organizing free educational courses, providing benefits to small and medium-sized businesses.
Right now, the development of women’s entrepreneurship is a major global trend. As practice has shown across many countries, it’s a point of growth for small and medium-sized business. If we consider the small business cluster in general, there are many different areas: there is the development of innovation, industrial manufacturing services, and so on. But you can look at it from another perspective – youth entrepreneurship or female entrepreneurship, for example. And it is in women’s small business that you see a serious focus on the development of social entrepreneurship. Educational projects, everything related to children’s development, preschool education – all of this is usually done by women. In fact, in Russia, up to 90% of social business and educational projects are headed up by women.
A lot of women see an opportunity for self-fulfillment in entrepreneurship, as well as an opportunity to make more money than they would working for someone else. And there is a third motive as well, which was identified within the scope of the WBI (the women in business index) – the desire to combine business and family, which means a flexible schedule, the ability to manage one’s own time and resources.
When it comes to Russian women in business, the data speaks for itself: 54% of the working-age population are women, and they constitute 27–32% of the total number of entrepreneurs in our country. This is a good resource for the development of the national economy and growth in the number of entrepreneurs.
In some countries, women-led companies account for 50–60% of the GDP. For example, in Germany and the United States, the proportion of such enterprises in the GDP is 50–52%. In Japan, this figure is 55%, and in Italy it’s 60%. By some estimates, today women own 10% of the world’s property. Women’s business has really become a significant segment of entrepreneurship.
Chairwoman of the Federation Council
“The International Labour Organization reports that one third of all entrepreneurs in the world are women. And it is obvious that women’s entrepreneurship can be a very important driver of global economic development. In Russia, the share of enterprises created by women, for example, in the manufacturing industry, is already at 32%. They are also successful in the sphere of IT. It is important that Russian women entrepreneurs today are, as a rule, highly qualified and well-trained professionals. 85% of them have a higher education, and over 40% have received additional training.
Russian women have moved into business, showing perseverance, and I would even say courage and creativity. If until around the mid-to-late 1990s, Russian women in business were primarily associated with shuttle traders at the markets, or at the most owners of hair and beauty salons, today the situation is qualitatively different. Many business women in Russia are on par with their male counterparts in terms of the types of business they run and the scale of their enterprises. They are represented not only in trade and service, but also in the agro-industrial complex, construction, high-tech industries, and banking.
I believe that the main task now is to create legal and administrative conditions, as well as financial instruments that help women to realize their potential in business. Speaking quite simply, to help, to support women in their pursuit of entrepreneurial activity.”
Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council
“Today, the subject of women’s economic activity is on the global agenda of all key international organizations. Like many other countries, Russia sees in women’s entrepreneurship an enormous resource for the development of small and medium-sized businesses – a powerful resource for creating new jobs. Thus, over the past year, our country has implemented a whole range of measures that stimulate the development of industries and spheres in which women entrepreneurs are predominantly involved, including consumer goods manufacturing, the production of goods for children, arts and crafts, and social entrepreneurship.”
President of the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs (FCEM)
“Women who do business have a lot in common. The main reason a lot of women are becoming entrepreneurs is their desire to find work for themselves. But the scale of companies they establish and run differs from those established by their male counterparts. Moreover, women entrepreneurs are typically older than male entrepreneurs. Women are usually busy starting families until age 38, with raising their children. Once they reach 40, they understand they have potential for further development and want to realize their plans.
I have two pieces of advice for women going into business. First, don’t be afraid. The first step is always difficult and risky, but after taking it you’ll realize that your quality of life will change. Life will never be the same as it was at your starting point.
Second, choose your business partner just as carefully as you would choose your life partner. These are the people who will be with you in business, impacting the result you want to achieve.
Today, along with the growth of entrepreneurship, the main task is to transfer technology, experience and knowledge from those who have already achieved something to those who are taking their first steps in business.
We have created a platform where each member of the association can submit their services and leave a request for cooperation. FCEM is starting to work with large amounts of information that is becoming available to members of the association. But at the same time, this doesn’t cancel out congresses and live meetings, the exchange of emotions, knowledge and experience that cannot be transferred digitally.”
Karin Van Mourik
Association of German Women Entrepreneurs
“As you say in Russia, one person in battle is not enough. Especially one woman. Although a brave woman starting a business is already a warrior, she still needs professional contacts, mutual support, exchange of experience, information about her rights, protection of her interests, and opportunities to be successful in business just like men.
Of course, we are by no means a feminist organization, but it has long been studied and proven that women do business differently than men: more cautiously, with the expectation of long-term stability and with increased attention to the human factor, which, as it turns out, contributes to the company’s success just as much as the more obvious economic factors.
We’ve long surpassed the time when a woman in Germany was responsible for three Ks: Kinder, Küche, Kirche (children, kitchen, church), but the archaic prejudices about options for the “weaker sex” are surprisingly resilient.
Our organization has managed to accomplish a lot since 1954: women who are members of the association have a voice in the spheres of economy, politics, and social life. They hold strong positions in the sphere of entrepreneurship. Our association has managed to achieve, through implementing relevant laws, a 30% quota for the presence of women in supervisory boards at enterprises.
But the issues of equal rights in terms of women’s participation in the economy and equal pay are still important to us.”
Deputy Mayor of Moscow for Economic Policy and Property and Land Relations
“Entrepreneurial activity in Moscow is growing every year. Women in the capital have a stable interest in developing their own business. The share of women among individual entrepreneurs registered in Moscow is about 39%, and about a third of all managers in the capital are women. The city is actively supporting women who start their own businesses, specifically through educational programs, financial support, and property support. Women make up more than half (55.6%) of all entrepreneurship courses in the city, according to a survey conducted by the state budgetary institution Small Business of Moscow in April-August 2018.
42% of women taking these courses are under 35, 29% are between 36 and 45 years old, and another 20% are over 46. A total of 7,000 people took part in the survey.”
Director for External Communications of the Russian Export Centre
“Women’s entrepreneurship is a special sphere. For the most part, women entrepreneurs represent the small and medium business segment, and this, as a rule, is the production of goods and services for a particular person. In today’s world, female entrepreneurship plays a special role. Of course, women entrepreneurs need to be supported by the state. After all, these are new jobs, it’s the development of the social sphere, and additional opportunities for the local budget. But women represent big business as well. At times, business projects implemented by Russian women inspire genuine admiration.”
Co-founder of a smart auto service network, a serial entrepreneur, an expert in business automation, business process optimization, and personnel motivation systems:
“As of today, our network is the most innovative and one of the largest in the country: we have 130 auto services in Russia and the CIS. We’re in eighth place in RBC’s ranking of the most popular franchises and the fourth in the Forbes ranking of the most profitable franchises. Last year, our company turnover amounted to 1.25 billion rubles.
At first, we planned to go to the US to pursue the American dream. We couldn’t make it happen because we didn’t get a visa. We even entitled a book about running our own business ‘Once Not in America.’ We came to Moscow, and I think this was the best thing we could have done, because we would not have managed to do the same thing over there. And I am very grateful that fate brought us here, where there are vast opportunities for entrepreneurs that you just need to take advantage of.
We didn’t need any agreements ‘under the table’ in order to develop our business here. I think this is a big advantage for entrepreneurs, when you have the opportunity to grow without special connections of any kind. With opportunities like this, any entrepreneur can be successful.
I am very glad that we started our business in Moscow – this is our city and it’s our strong point. Winning Moscow over is difficult, but if you start here, everything else is peanuts in comparison.”
Member of the Supervisory Board at We-Fi, Chair of the “Opory Rossiyi” committee for the development of women’s entrepreneurship, Member of the Board at Otkritie Bank
“Our society has the perception that women are a socially subsidized class. We want to expand the agenda: first, women’s entrepreneurship is a point of growth for small and medium-sized businesses all over the world; second, more than half of the working population in Russia is women, and here there is a real opportunity for the Russian economy to tap into this potential.
Our team has created a platform that brings together women from different regions, allows us to launch initiatives, to set an agenda for cooperation between entrepreneurs and government bodies and supporting organizations in the small and medium-sized business segment.
I’ve been in the banking industry for 25 years. I have met excellent women experts that I’ve offered better positions to, but they doubted their future success and their ability to move up the ladder. It seemed to them there was someone better and they wouldn’t be able to achieve the needed results. Today, there are fewer women who doubt themselves.
A general trend has emerged in two directions. Externally, society support women’s desire to create their own business and the first elements of a supporting infrastructure are being established. And internally, there is personal self-confidence that is growing thanks to examples of successful women entrepreneurs.
There is a trend right now in which the share of women on board of directors management boards at banks is growing. More attention is being paid to the subject of women’s development and self-fulfillment. This gives women confidence, and they’ve started to see opportunities to develop their careers and achieve their goals.”
Executive Director of the All-Russian public organization “Women of Business”
“In the 20 years that our organization has been around, the image of women entrepreneurs has changed a lot. Today, women start their own businesses primarily because they want to create value. The scale of their enterprises varies. This trend applies not only in the regions and in the capital, but across all countries and continents.
One of the recent largest international congresses for women entrepreneurs was held in Moscow and brought together participants from almost 40 member countries – over 500 business women. “Women of Business” hosted the event. It was held with the support from the Moscow government, which made it possible to conduct an effective dialogue within the framework of sessions, round tables, and discussions.
Moscow sets the trend for the whole country in terms of forming associations and working with them. When there is an association, there is an opportunity to contribute to the formation of values and to the development of measures for the systemic support of women’s entrepreneurship. Association activities make communication more efficient. Recently, cooperation between our association and the government has reached a qualitatively new level. The beginning of a dialogue, which signals that things are moving in the right direction, is key. And there is a dialogue. We regularly conduct foresight sessions, and they are always attended by representatives of the Moscow Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Development.”
UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador
“In Moscow, doing business is different because the capital grants people greater access to the market – it’s just huge here. But women entrepreneurs in Moscow encounter another problem, because doing business here is expensive: rent, staff, advertising.
I think the Moscow program may well be aimed at making our women entrepreneurs more open to the rest of the world. An American woman who starts a business immediately starts thinking about how to turn it into an international organization. At most, Russian women make plans to take their business to the neighboring region. I think that for the capital, for the level of entrepreneurs working here, it’s important to consider formats that will enable Russia to show the world that we can do much more than make tanks and missiles. I think this trend should start in Moscow.
Both male and female entrepreneurs consider the lack of access to financing to be the main barrier to starting a business. After that, opinions are split. For men, the second barrier is fear of failure. For women, it’s the feeling that they lack the necessary knowledge and skills. So the answer is that we need specialized educational, informational support, promotion, role models of success, and programs to provide access to financial resources for both women and men.”