Since 2007, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. has increased by 58 percent, outpacing the 12 percent growth rate of business overall. In addition to the sheer increase in volume, women-owned firms are growing at twice the speed of other businesses, contributing $3 trillion and 23 million jobs to the global economy.
In 2019, we saw more female entrepreneurs in the spotlight as they continued to make huge strides to overcome gender-related biases and advance their businesses. As 2020 kicks into gear, these strides will advance even further.
To shine light on this upward trend of successful female-owned businesses, Mastercard’s Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2019 report celebrates the markets where women entrepreneurs are most likely to thrive.
Out of the top 20 markets for female entrepreneurs, 80 percent are high income economies, fueled by highly supportive entrepreneurial conditions. This includes the U.S., which topped the charts, and New Zealand, which trailed closely in second place. By understanding these top markets, we can also see and address where gaps are most prevalent and change is needed.
The success of women positively impacts the labor force and the growth of our economy. It’s no surprise that when women are fueled by highly supportive entrepreneurial conditions, they are empowered to make business advancements.
As we look ahead to the next decade, it’s imperative that we create these optimal entrepreneurial conditions for female business owners across all geographies, allowing them to be key drivers of economic growth.
It’s equally important that we celebrate the incredible networking and mentorship opportunities that propel us toward a future where the funding gap is finally closed.
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Driving economic growth and societal change
Women-owned businesses are strong catalysts for economic growth, and when female businesses are thriving, the economy thrives. In turn, when we support these businesses, we support the economy.
According to a study by The Harris Poll on behalf of Mastercard, two-thirds of women business owners report that they feel drawn to focus on unaddressed causes that extend beyond their personal lives, saying their businesses came from unmet societal needs. In short, women are solving the world’s problems, one small business at a time.
This year, we had the pleasure of working with Arion Long, CEO and founder of Femly, during our 2018 Grow Your Biz Contest. She is the perfect example of an inspiring change-maker. Her product, the Femly Box, was started after Long discovered the dangers of chemicals found in conventional feminine care, in addition to suffering from a cervical tumor.
These experiences led Long to create Femly, a natural feminine care subscription company that supports women’s wellness by shipping monthly menstrual cycle care packages, including 100 percent natural cotton pads, tampons, snacks, body care products and more.
Celebrating enhanced networking and mentorship opportunities
Nearly half (48 percent) of women surveyed believe mentorship programs are most helpful for the advancement of women entrepreneurs. This is why it’s important to have a dialogue with women entrepreneurs.
The thought-provoking discussions that take place at networking events help companies with the capacity to deliver game-changing solutions to better understand entrepreneurs’ needs and challenges. At the end of the day, the best thing companies can do is advocate for these women through action, providing the resources and tools they need to be successful.
Moving into 2020, we’ll see even more of these types of female-focused business events where female entrepreneurs are finding the support they need to excel.
Closing the funding gap
An astounding 85 percent of women and 79 percent of men agree that a joint effort is needed to find a solution to closing the funding gap.
Despite all the positive strides made in recent years, women continue to struggle with earning respect in the entrepreneurial community. We see this reflected in the allocation of resources, such as the gap of venture capital (VC) funding that goes to women: female-founded companies only received 2 percent of VC funding in 2017 ($1.9 billion of the $85 billion total invested).
To help address this pain point, it is important to recognize the issue and provide support to narrow the funding gap for women. In addition to traditional VC funding and business loans, there are several women-focused grants and alternative funding options for eager female entrepreneurs to consider.
As female business owners continue to break glass ceilings, make noise in the media and have their voices heard, we’re going to see the funding gap start to narrow and, soon enough, close for good.
The year ahead in 2020 looks bright for female entrepreneurs!