Female Entrepreneurship Is More Popular In Developing World: Study

Women in less developed economies are more likely to start or maintain a business venture than those living in developed countries, according to the 2010 Women's Report released Wednesday by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.

The study, which surveyed women entrepreneurs in 59 countries, found that when it comes to entrepreneurship, males tend to cite "opportunity" as their main motivator, while women more often start or maintain businesses out of "necessity."

And since there is a higher percentage of people in developing countries whose entrepreneurial endeavors are born out of necessity, the study said, women make up a larger share of the total number of entrepreneurs in less-developed economies than they do in developed economies.

But the report also suggests that the global recession, which has its roots in developed, innovation-driven economies, spawned a wave of people in developed economies who have turned to entrepreneurship just to get by.

"We saw a great spike in necessity-based entrepreneurship in the U.S. and Ireland in the last year," said Donna J. Kelley, one of the authors of the study, who is also a professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College. "Entrepreneurship allows people to create jobs when society can't provide them with jobs due to the economy's stage of development or market variations."

(Click here for a PDF of the study.)

The study also found that there are 187 million women actively starting or maintaining a business venture globally. Participation varies greatly across the globe, ranging from 1.5 percent to 45.4 percent of adult women in a single economy. And in only one of the surveyed economies -- Ghana -- did women entrepreneurs out-number men.

The female to male entrepreneur ratio is the highest in Latin American countries with efficiency-driven economies, the report found, while Japan, Korea and Iran showed large gaps between male and female entrepreneurship.