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Lead Your Team Women in Business

Necessity and Opportunity Drive Women to Start Their Own Businesses

Necessity and Opportunity Drive Women to Start Their Own Businesses Credit: Dreamstime.com

Women are still less likely than men to start their own businesses, they are doing so for different reasons, according to new research from Babson College. In developing countries, for example, necessity drives women to start their own businesses. In more-developed countries, however, 72 percent of women started businesses because they saw an opportunity for entrepreneurship.

The findings, reported in the Babson Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2010 Women's Report, show that more than 104 million women between the ages of 18 and 64 were involved in starting new businesses in 59 countries in 2010. In addition, as of 2010, another 83 million women had owned their own businesses for at least three years

"Women entrepreneurs are a vital source of growth that can power our economies for decades, yet they face tremendous challenges to their full economic participation," said Melanne Verveer, ambassador at large for Global Women's Issues in the U.S. Department of State.

These challenges include the fact that women overall are still less likely than men to take the leap into entrepreneurship due mainly to a fear of failure. This reluctance can be due to the fact that only 47 percent of women believe they have the ability to start and run their own business, compared to 62 percent of men, the report said.

The GEM recommends that countries follow these steps to ensure fair business opportunities:

  • "Assist women business start-ups through the availability of opportunities and resources."
  • "Support women's business growth with technical assistance and education."
  • "Promote societal attitudes toward entrepreneurship, and in particular, women's engagement in entrepreneurship."

"Most economic policies around the world are made by individuals educated primarily about the world of big business and functioning in their roles to support such businesses," said Donna Kelley, associate professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College, in Wellesley, Mass., and the lead author of the GEM Women's Report. "At the same time, most of the businesses in the world are small- to medium-size firms and the majority of the world's workforce is employed in these businesses. Policies will need to consider this diversity and its relationship to motivations, attitudes and approaches to start-up and growth, as well as the frequency and profile of women's entrepreneurship.

"As women continue to emerge as key participants in the entrepreneurial phenomenon, they will contribute increasingly to economic development, innovation and the societal value of their communities and the world," said Kelley.

The other authors of this study, besides Kelley,  included Candida Brush and Patricia Greene of Babson College and Yana Litovsky of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.  The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor is a self-described "not-for-profit academic research consortium that has a goal [of] making high-quality information on global entrepreneurship activity readily available to as wide an audience as possible."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.