The world of entrepreneurship and its nature is constantly changing, thanks predominantly to the influence of social, economic and technological factors. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) is an annual study that measures these changes, while offering insight into emerging trends and practices from around the world.
According to its most recent output, the last year has seen a significant shift in the performance of female entrepreneurs. For the first time in 13 years, women are creating businesses at a greater rate than men in three of the 59 surveyed economies, while they are also performing on an equal footing with their male counterparts in four additional nations.
The Global Drive to Empower Female Entrepreneurs
While it has yet to be seen whether these figures represent the emergence of a global trend, they certainly offer an insight into how the entrepreneurial world is changing. Firstly, they reveal that female entrepreneurs are now outperforming men in the nations of Ghana, Nigeria and Thailand, while they also suggest that both genders are equally productive in Brazil, Uganda, Switzerland and Ecuador. This represents the growth of female entrepreneurship in emerging economies, where legislative amendments and the development of equal opportunities are beginning to create positive and sustainable change.
In recent times, there has been a global drive to empower women both as thriving entrepreneurs and executive board members. This has had a considerable impact at every social level, with an Intel, World Pulse, UN Women and the U.S. State Department study reporting that the simple task of doubling web access among females could add between $13 billion and $18 billion to annual GDP across 144 emerging economies. Also, a recent collaboration between Coca-Cola and the International Finance Corp has subsequently sought to effect such a change, by providing $100 million to correct the historical earning imbalance in Africa and other undeveloped economies.
The Immediate Impact of Change and Female Empowerment
The recent GEM report and similar studies suggest that emerging economies are beginning to benefit from such initiatives, both in terms of female empowerment and the distribution of wealth. According to the influential International Finance Corporation, which runs the prosperous Women in Business Program, the financial power of females is expanding across the world and particularly in developing nations. This is reflected by the projected rise of female consumer spending, which is set to reach $28 trillion in 2014 and significantly reduce the economic gender gap.
The rise in female consumer spending is pronounced and represents a 40% increase from 2012. This can be largely attributed to the empowerment of females in emerging markets, who are clearly earning more money and controlling a greater share of corporate and household spending decisions. As females in developing nations are afforded access to greater opportunities and given the tools with which to establish themselves as entrepreneurs, it appears as though they are choosing to follow in the footsteps of some women in established economies such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
The Bigger Picture and the Emergence of Global Equality
The drive to empower female entrepreneurs is having a significant impact on the global economy, as female business owners are now beginning to compete with their male counterparts while creating additional jobs, opportunities and revenue in countries throughout the world. While the rate of female-owned businesses in the U.S. has already soared by 54% during the last 15 years, there is now evidence that this substantial growth may soon be replicated in a host of developing and frontier markets throughout Africa, South America and Eastern Europe.
There is also a bigger picture to consider, however, especially in terms of how female entrepreneurs manage their businesses and their contribution to society. To begin with, women who operate their own business are far less likely to be orientated by profit, while they will also offer more flexible working arrangements and family-friendly benefits to their staff. In addition to this, there is also evidence to suggest that women often boast more generative revenues and seek to reinvest their profits into education, social improvement and local community projects. This has particular relevance in developing economies and regions, as the willingness to reinvest will only help encourage more significant and sustainable growth over time.
The Bottom Line
While there are still many social obstacles that females entrepreneurs must overcome if they are to achieve parity with their male counterparts, recent developments suggest that they are at the beginning of an upward trend. With women in emerging economies now following the example set by their contemporaries in the U.S. and other developed nations, the growth of female entrepreneurship is set to become a global trend that may cultivate a more stable and sustainable financial climate.
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