Women-Owned Businesses Outpacing Overall Workforce Growth
The dire situation that all entrepreneurs face cannot be overstated. Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, which comprise 90 percent of companies across the globe and more than 50 percent of the world’s total employment, are both heavily exposed to the pandemic disruption and critical to a recovery.
Women-owned businesses are particularly vulnerable for a variety of reasons, and at the same time they have been outpacing overall workforce growth, increasing by 21 percent between 2014 and 2019 as compared to 9 percent overall. In the same period, employment by women-owned businesses rose 8 percent, while for all businesses the increase was 1.8 percent.
Support Women Entrepreneurs with Networks, Policies, Access to Capital
To recover from the global economic disruption, fledgling women-run businesses must be nurtured and provided with supportive networks through organizations like the Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME), that let entrepreneurs know they are not alone at this challenging moment and that their dreams are realizable.
GAME created a Futurepreneur Grand Challenge contest to catalyze women entrepreneurs in the Indian city of Bangalore. Radhika Timbadia, among the first winners, received award money in April at a critical moment. The funds helped her bookstore Champaca, less than a year old, survive, and supported her as she pivoted to online sales and began a monthly subscription package of carefully curated titles sent to anywhere in India.
Women entrepreneurs also need strong voices to advocate for policies that provide equal pay for equal work, along with adequate maternity leave. Access to capital for women business owners remains a major problem, so their champions must also call for improved and unbiased monetary and regulatory policies.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report, released at the end of 2019, showed that at the current rate of change, the gender gap in economic participation and opportunity won’t close for another 257 years, and that for every dollar a man gets paid, a woman gets paid only 54 cents. We have to do better than that.
Sometimes, as women multi-task caretaking, managing households and running businesses, all they need is a bit of the most basic support. Consider, for example, Ruby Kumari, who lives in India’s Bihar State, where we have been providing access to reliable and quality electricity. Before the Covid-19 struck, she was running a home-based sewing school with 80 students while caring for her ill husband and two children. When Covid-19 hit, she couldn’t quit. She was still her family’s sole source of financial support. So she watched a do-it-yourself video, learned how to make masks, and hired 10 women to work in her new venture.
Covid-19 wrested control of our global narrative this year. But we can take back the pen and rewrite the world’s future by moving to establish greater gender balance and put women entrepreneurs among those at the forefront of recovery. If we do this, we will be supporting not only women, not only individual home-grown businesses, but job creation, community rebirth, and national economies as a whole.
- WEDNESDAY 9.16.2020As the third episode in the #RFBreakthrough series, “The Great Equalizer or Divider: Technology for Gender Justice and Women’s Empowerment”, The Rockefeller Foundation will co-host a livestream discussion with Vital Voices on how we can use technology as a means to an end to achieve gender equity during the pandemic and beyond.
Entrepreneurs Use Solar Power to Sew Masks and Provide Comfort
Nine months ago, solar-powered mini-grids arrived to Ruby Kumari’s village of 400 households in India’s Bihar State, allowing her to transform her considerable sewing skills into a viable business. The onset of Covid-19 gutted her earnings, but electric power allowed her to launch a new venture, making masks for her neighbors while simultaneously supporting her […]More