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Female entrepreneurs: The stats

Female entrepreneurship today

The 2006 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report on Women and Entrepreneurship revealed some interesting characteristics of women’s route to self-employment.

Female entrepreneurs worldwide, for example, are much more likely than men to start their businesses when still employed. This may have benefits in terms of resources and social capital, but also may act as a safety net, as women typically express less self-confidence in their entrepreneurial ventures than men (although whether men are as willing to admit their fears or not is another matter!).

The report showed that early-stage entrepreneurship in women continues to grow globally, although start-up rates among men are still higher. The report estimates that more than a third of people involved in entrepreneurial activity are women; however in high-income countries, men arealmost twice as likely to be early-stage or established business owners than women. The 2004 GEM Monitor showed that independent start-up activity among women is 3.1% of the adult female population, but 6% among men. In fact, Russia is the only country where the rate of female early-stage entrepreneurship is significantly higher than the male rate.

The 2006 report showed that female entrepreneurship is an increasingly important part of the economic profile of any country. But the male/female gap is still significant, especially in high-income countries and technology-intense sectors.

Regionally, the highest number of female startups is based in London, where 8.4% of the female workforce is self-employed, and female entrepreneurs are least active in the North East, according to the Labour Force Survey 2003.

And finally, a recent white paper titled The Observed Characteristics of Outstanding Women in Business found that while businesses run by women contribute £70bn to the UK economy and employ more than a million, there would be 750,000 more female-led start-ups if rates matched those in the US .

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