The importance of encouraging and supporting older women in business

Angela de Souza says entrepreneurial women over the age of 60 benefit both the economy and society in general

The importance of encouraging and supporting older women in business

While ageism and gender bias have long been challenges for women in the workforce, a growing number of businesswomen over the age of 60 are defying stereotypes and are succeeding as entrepreneurs and business leaders.

In fact, according to a report by the Kauffman Foundation, the highest rate of entrepreneurism is among people aged between 55 and 64. And women account for a growing share of this group.

Older women are starting more businesses than ever before

A report by the Small Business Administration showed that women over the age of 55 are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of female entrepreneurs over 65 increased by 6.4%.

Age and experience are assets in business

While ageism can be a challenge, with regards to securing promotion within the workforce, companies should understand the benefits of tapping into the wisdom of their older employees. A study by the Centre for Talent Innovation highlighted how older workers are more likely than their younger colleagues to possess skills and experience that are in high demand. These skills include problem-solving, creativity and relationship-building.

Networking and mentorship

As with any entrepreneur, networking and mentorship are essential for older women starting out in business. A study by the National Women’s Business Council showed that those who receive mentoring are five times more likely to start a business. It also illustrated how businesses that receive mentoring are more likely to succeed than those which don’t.

Technology is breaking down barriers

Technology has made it easier than ever for people to start and grow their businesses. Thanks to the rise of e-commerce, social media and other online tools, entrepreneurs can now connect with customers and clients around the world. This has reduced many of the traditional barriers to starting a business. And older members of society are taking advantage of these technological developments.

Diversity benefits business

With people generally living longer than in previous generations, there is a growing need for businesses to embrace diversity and inclusion. Older women bring a unique perspective and set of skills to business, and companies that embrace this diversity are more likely to succeed in the long term.

Retirement is not the end

For many women over 60, retirement signifies a new beginning, rather than the end of a career. Merrill Lynch published a report that showed how 72% of pre-retirees want to continue working in some capacity during retirement. Starting a business can be a fulfilling and rewarding way for older women to remain engaged in the workforce.

Older women face unique challenges

While entrepreneurship can be challenging for anyone, older women may face unique obstacles. For example, they may have difficulty accessing capital or finding resources tailored to their needs. Additionally, women over 60 may face age and gender bias when it comes to starting and growing a business.

The benefits of entrepreneurship

Despite the aforementioned challenges, entrepreneurship can offer many benefits. In addition to providing a source of income, businesses allow women to pursue their passions. It can also help to make a positive impact in local communities. Entrepreneurship offers a sense of purpose and fulfilment that may be lacking during traditional retirement.

Success stories of women over 60 in business

There are many inspiring examples of women over the age of 60 who have found success as entrepreneurs. For example, Harriet Green started her career in travel and transportation before becoming chief executive of travel company Thomas Cook. After retiring from that role, she went on to serve as chief executive of IBM’s Watson IoT division. 

Another example is Barbara Beskind who, at 91, is the oldest designer at consultancy IDEO. She brings a unique perspective to her work, having served as a nurse during World War II.

The importance of supporting older women in business

To acknowledge the growing trend of women over 60 setting up businesses, it is important for society to support and encourage these entrepreneurs. This should include providing access to capital and resources tailored to their needs. Ageism and gender bias in the workforce also needs to be eradicated – for everyone’s benefit. By supporting older women in business, we can tap into a valuable source of experience, wisdom and innovation.

The rise in the number of women owning businesses, aged 60 and over, is a testament to their power of entrepreneurship and resilience – despite the many societal challenges they face. By breaking down stereotypes and embracing diversity, these entrepreneurs are making a positive impact regarding the economy and society as a whole.


The Coming Entrepreneurship Boom’ – Carl Schramm, Kauffman Foundation;

The State of Women-Owned Businesses 2017’ – National Women’s Business Council;

Tapping the Fountain of Experience: Older Workers and the Economy’ – Centre for Talent Innovation;

Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations’ – Merrill Lynch;

Why Women Entrepreneurs Over 50 Hold the Aces’ – Next Avenue;

Harriet Green: The travel veteran with a thirst for innovation’ – The Independent;

91-Year-Old Designer is IDEO’s Oldest Employee and Brings a World of Experience’ – CNBC.

Angela De Souza
Angela De Souza

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