Women hold up half the sky and according to the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Women’s Entrepreneurship report, they also are involved in a whole heck of a lot of startups – to the tune of more than 274 million women worldwide.
Our Lucy Brooks wrote an eloquent piece, “wegg® Anticipates GEM Women’s Entrepreneurship Report,” about what to anticipate with the GEM Report, and she was spot on. Geri Stengel from Forbes, also wrote a compact article, “Addressing Gaps Between Men And Women Entrepreneurs Can Drive Economic Growth Globally, Report Finds.” GEM also provides a synopsis about the key findings from the report.
When it comes to the international or export part of the report, is there anything new? Not really. There’s basically a lot of women business owners who aren’t taking their business global.
The GEM report states:
Another indicator of growth orientation is selling to international customers. Women entrepreneurs are much less likely than men to report exports to over 25% of their customers in every country in this region, with the exception of Indonesia, where women are 2.7 times more likely than men to report high levels of export activity.
The report goes on to say:
Similarly, high levels of export activity tend to be much more common in small countries, like Taiwan or Luxembourg, where international customers are common and often necessary to ensure a profitable business model.
Why the low international expansion (export) rates? Because women entrepreneurs don’t have the confidence, support, tools and skills to overcome structural and social barriers. As a result, women must outperform men entrepreneurs to have an equal chance to be considered for anything. They work hard to grow their business but not necessarily through exporting. Exporting as a growth mechanism becomes a later consideration when they are in a position of greater strength.
Connecting with role models, as we offer at wegg, infuses women with tremendous inspiration and encouragement. Interacting with incredible women entrepreneurs who are courageously building the companies of tomorrow – globally – in the face of enormous challenges is exhilarating.
Women need more of these role models and mentors to achieve success at a faster pace. Again, that’s what we provide at wegg. And yes, public policy reforms can and should open the door to facilitate female entrepreneurship and reduce income and wealth inequality. But meanwhile, when that is not happening, wegg stands tall and strong to help women advance on the global front.
A couple of other things that are relevant and important to women that I wish had been highlighted in the report (maybe a different report will be issued in the future that only focuses on women entrepreneurs expanding internationally!) and they all have to do with what women need to achieve readiness for exporting or international expansion:
- Emotional readiness – tough enough to take the first step
- Operational readiness – the ability to scale
- Prior business success at the local level – they’ve sold the big customer down the block or across the state line and now can think about taking their products outside their own borders.
- Technological acumen – know how to access and leverage the Internet
- Products or services with export potential – gets back to a history of local success and the ability to scale.
Also, in my view, a perceived lack of credibility is the number one barrier for women doing business globally. This perceived deficiency lack makes it difficult for women to access markets, market information, and establish relationships. If you don’t already have an influential person in your life who can tout your capabilities, find one and cultivate the relationship.
“To succeed in today’s economic climate — and beyond — it’s more essential than ever for women business owners to be informed and inspired to grow global. Yet it’s just not happening. ‘Approximately 30 percent of businesses are women-owned, but only 12 percent of businesses that export are owned by women,” reports The United State of Women. That has to change.’”
And I second her statement: wegg will be making that change. That you can count on.