In our constantly evolving technological society, the cry for entrepreneurs has never resounded more sonorously. Entrepreneurs not only unite the productive factors of land, labor and capital in the pursuit of innovation, they more importantly shatter the status quo of existing goods and services with ever-expanding consequence for our society and world economy. But what if an entrepreneur never had the opportunity to thrive in the annals of innovation? What if he or she never received the capital, technology, networks and information crucial to the founding and flourishing of business ventures?
This lack of funding and resources is precisely the reality that many women entrepreneurs face. According to Forbes, men entrepreneurs in the U.S. launch their businesses with a median startup balance of $30,000, compared to $8,000 for women entrepreneurs -- and these gender disparities in entrepreneurship affect developing and developed countries alike. This flagrant difference in capital stems partly from the fact that in an entrepreneurial context, men have a higher probability of securing business loans -- a probability that pivots on stereotyped notions that men make greater entrepreneurs than women do.
The upshot of letting such biases towards men hold sway in the allocation of business loans is that women's inaccessibility to even the most basic resources becomes unavoidable. From this, not only does a lack of funding result in higher odds of business failure for women, it also threatens to widen the confidence gap between male and female entrepreneurs, exacerbating the already vast dearth of women entrepreneurs in the world.
Depriving women of the access to entrepreneurial opportunities is one of the most enduring inequalities to shake the roots of the workforce. While I do aver that entrepreneurship may not be for everyone, I still hold firmly to the belief that entrepreneurship has the power to catalyze economic opportunities and greater gender equality for women. Thus, I recoil from the very thought that even as we continue to soar to new heights in the entrepreneurial sphere, female entrepreneurs remain few and far between. It is troubling to think that prejudices against women entrepreneurs still hamper their ability to establish their businesses, often to the cost of inhibiting a lifeline for women who need the flexibility to balance professional and personal commitments.
Yet, when female entrepreneurs have the chance to grow and scale transformative enterprises, the manifold positive externalities that arise are enormous. Below is a brief rationale that highlights a simple, common sense truth: investing in women's entrepreneurship is worth it, and will change the world.
1. Women's entrepreneurship will spur economic growth.
In the United Kingdom, one in five women comes into self-employment from unemployment compared to one in fifteen for men. Also, the contribution of three trillion dollars added to the U.S economy is ascribed to the ten and a half million American women who lead their own businesses -- a testament indeed to the importance of leveraging women's entrepreneurship.
2. Women's entrepreneurship in lesser-economically developed countries will help women escape the poverty trap.
When women gain access to education and resources essential to their prosperity, they are able to kick-start their ventures and become financially autonomous. In the developing world, a working woman reinvests 90% of her earnings back into her family and immediate community. An investment in women's entrepreneurship, which will occasion job creation and an income stream, will doubtless produce high returns that safeguard our collective future.
3. Women's entrepreneurship will put an end to the entrepreneurial stereotypes that have been perpetuated by society.
In the words of businesswoman and fashion designer Tory Burch: "Women business leaders inspire other women to pursue their dreams." By providing role models of women entrepreneurs, women will realize that they can be entrepreneurially successful. Ideally, the isolation and loneliness that women entrepreneurs feel due to disempowering social beliefs will dissolve as a consequence.
4. Women's entrepreneurship will contribute to greater diversity needed to steer innovation.
Entrepreneurship changes our world and shapes our future. When women are inspired to sow the seeds of their entrepreneurial initiatives, the possibilities for a better world and a brighter future are limitless.
It is crucial that in any entrepreneurial culture, a variety of perspectives and life experiences are available to guide the direction of innovative inquiry and product design. By including women in the entrepreneurial scene, we avoid marginalizing it. In striking a greater diversity, solutions that entrepreneurs develop are not self-limiting and address the needs of a wide spectrum of society.
5. Women's entrepreneurship will catalyze greater empowerment.
The concept of entrepreneurship is entrenched in empowerment -- by taking the reins of one's own passion and project, the abstract idea of "self-actualization" more often than not will be realized. Through entrepreneurship, women are free to follow their dreams, test their ideas, not be adherents to someone else's vision and soar from strength to strength in the avenues of entrepreneurship and innovation.
It's time to provide the resources and funding to ensure that women-led enterprises flourish. It's time to amplify our voices against the discriminatory regulations and entrenched gender-biased dynamics that impede women's entrepreneurship. It's time to recognize and value the boons of women-owned businesses, saying once and for all, that an investment in women's entrepreneurship can and will change the world.