Report: U.S. leads in women entrepreneurship

By Norman Rozenberg, Contributor

Of 31 nations with the largest economies, the United States supports high-impact women entrepreneurs the most, with women creating 15 million jobs in the next two years, according to Dell’s 2015 Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard.

The U.S. placed No. 1 for its investments in research and development, a strong innovation ecosystem, availability of capital and relatively low levels of business regulations, corruption and market monopolies, according to the study, released during the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network Summit in Berlin on June 30. Canada, Australia and Sweden round out the top four nations in the study.

The Scorecard assessed nations based on 21 variables and five key areas in each country: business environment, gendered access, leadership and rights, pipeline for entrepreneurship and potential entrepreneur leaders.

India, Pakistan and Bangladesh ranked in the bottom three, respectively. The three nations lack resources and capital for women entrepreneurs and have few women in leadership positions. The nations also lack equal rights for women, according to the study.

Despite the rosy outlook for women entrepreneurs in the U.S., there’s still a lot of room for improvement, as the nation received only 71 points on a 100-point scale. Entrepreneurs in the U.S. continue to be undercapitalized with only 3 percent of women-owned businesses receiving venture capital funding in 2014. And in Silicon Valley, less than one in 10 high-tech startups are led by women, according to the study.

Countries in the study — such as Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Uganda, Turkey and the United Kingdom — represent 70 percent of the world’s female population and 76 percent of the world’s GDP. The diagnostic tool identifies the impediments to female entrepreneurship and outlines key steps countries can take to improve their score.

“Our goal is that the Scorecard findings spark action from governments, businesses, global organizations and entrepreneurs themselves to learn from one another and collectively move toward progress,” Charlotte Deal, director of Women’s Initiatives at Dell, said in the report.

Carried out by ACG and authored by Ruta Aidis, Julie Weeks and Katrin Anacker, the study is Dell’s sixth and its largest yet.

The study showed that six European countries — France, Germany, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom — led in four of the five indicators. Although the U.S. leads in these rankings overall, it is not ahead of other countries by a large margin. The second-ranked nation, Canada, is only two points behind the U.S.

The U.S. leads other nations in terms of its Gender Procurement Policy, which was formally established in 2000 and has an annual target of 5 percent of the total value of all government contracts for women-owned businesses. The nation also received praise for its new gendered business census, which will start in 2016.

How nations can improve

In every nation in the study, the percentage of female CEOs, senior managers and executive board members is low. In the U.S., 4.6 percent of CEOs and 21 percent of managers are women, far from the target of 10 percent of CEOs and 35 percent of managers.

Few nations have an established Gendered Public Procurement Policy or collect gendered data for entrepreneurship.

While the U.S. will collect gendered data, the study pointed out that it’s funded by a generous three-year grant from the Kauffmann Foundation. To ensure that this integral data is collected in the future, more government commitment is necessary, the study recommends.

One of the biggest problem areas for all nations in the study is the rate at which women scale their businesses. It would benefit the global economy significantly if women-led businesses accelerated at the same rate as men’s, according to Deal.

“The world will need 600 million jobs by 2025 to employ the eligible workforce,” Deal said. “With startups generating 70 to 90 percent of all new jobs, entrepreneurs represent the answer to that challenge.”

She added, “If we are to meet this demand, we must ensure women entrepreneurs have the opportunity to start and scale their businesses to the same level as their male counterparts.”

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