Julie Deane, Jacqueline Gold, Thea Green, Laura Tenison, Sara Murray. There’s no doubting that the UK has produced some fine female entrepreneurs. And for the most part, a recent study from Dell, the computing giant, appears to back up such a claim. The firm’s Gender-Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI) ranks Blighty among the top seven countries for encouraging women into entrepreneurship – that’s out of a total of 30 countries.
However, what hasn’t gone unnoticed – at least by us – is that the UK is currently lagging behind some its European counterparts on the female entrepreneur front. The Gender-GEDI ranked the The United States (with a score of 83), Australia (80) and newcomer Sweden (73) as the three countries in which entrepreneurial women are most likely to flourish. They were followed by by France and Germany (tied at 67), Chile (55), the UK (54) and Poland (51).
It’s probably worth noting at this juncture that the scores aren’t determined by headcount – the USA would probably still win if it was – but on an assessment on the entrepreneurial ecosystem, business environment and individual aspirations in each of the 30 countries. Therefore, it’s hoped that the results of the study will help policy-makers and business leaders develop strategies to create more favourable conditions that enable businesses founded by women to thrive.
Despite the UK’s inferior position to its neighbours, we can take heart from the fact that it was one of four countries that improved its ranking since this year, the others being Japan, Brazil and India. Meanwhile, Malaysia, Egypt, Mexico and Morocco saw a decline in their rankings. Indeed, on a worldwide scale, things are currently looking pretty bleak, with the Gender-GEDI finding that a shocking 75% of the countries surveyed aren’t meeting the most fundamental conditions required for female entrepreneurs to prosper.
What are these conditions then? Well, the index suggests that significant progress could be achieved by increasing access to education, technology capital and networks. It revealed that in 14 of the countries surveyed, a shocking 50% of the female population is unbanked, resulting in a near impossible access to capital while many industries still remain male-dominated. It adds that women’s rights must also be addressed if the tide is to start turning in the right direction. In 22 of the 30 countries, married women have less rights than married men, while in eight countries they do not even enjoy the same legal access to property as the male population.
“To harness the full potential of low performing countries, the Gender-GEDI results demonstrate that basic improvements are required in terms of access to equal rights and education as well as acceptance of women’s social and economic empowerment,” said Ruta Aidis, project director for Gender-GEDI.
“For countries with moderate scores, to improve their rankings, they should focus both on current women’s enterprise development interventions and support as well as basic improvements in the business-enabling environment.”