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126 Million Women Entrepreneurs Active Worldwide: GEM 2012 Women's Report

This article is cross-posted from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Consortium's website.

More than 126 million women entrepreneurs were starting or running new businesses in 67 economies in 2012, according to the GEM 2012 Women's Report, the most comprehensive research ever conducted about the entrepreneurial activity of women across the globe.

An estimated 48 million female entrepreneurs and 64 million female established business owners currently employ one or more people in their businesses; seven million female entrepreneurs and five million established business owners are expected to grow their ventures by at least six employees in five years.

Still, the Report found that much needs to be done for women entrepreneurs to further boost and grow their businesses. Women entrepreneurs need more resources and better programs to:

  • build new collaborations and leverage ideas,
  • develop entrepreneurial abilities and attitudes, and 
  • access the means necessary to expand their businesses and generate jobs.

“In most economies around the world, there are fewer women than men starting and running new businesses, but there are even fewer running mature ones,” said Babson College Professor Donna J. Kelley, the Report’s lead author. “This raises a red flag about the ability of women to easily transition from starting to sustaining their businesses.”

According to the Report, women entrepreneurs are drawn more to the consumer-industry sector while men continue to dominate the capital and knowledge-based manufacturing and service sectors. In Europe and the United States, women are as highly-educated, or more so, than men. Yet, they are less likely to believe they have the capabilities for starting businesses. 

“Even though women may have more years of education, it may not relate to self-perceived confidence in their entrepreneurial capabilities,” said Candida G. Brush, Report author and Distinguished Professor in Entrepreneurship, Babson College. “In developed economies, entrepreneurship is opportunity driven and women, who are well-schooled in other disciplines than entrepreneurship, may question their ability to identify, assess and act on an opportunity.”