Women around the world have narrowed the gender gap in entrepreneurship by 6 percent from 2012 to 2014 and are finding paths to launching more businesses in industrialized and developing nations, according to a new report.
On average, more women globally are taking advantage of educational gains and perceived economic opportunities to start businesses that can pave the way for financial independence, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2014 Women's Report. The research, conducted by several universities, including Babson College in Massachusetts, was released Wednesday.
In recent years, entrepreneurship increasingly has been recognized as critical to economic development around the world, especially among poorer nations. Female entrepreneurs, in particular, can contribute substantially to economic growth and help reduce poverty, according to widely followed data from the World Economic Forum.
Encompassing 40 percent of the global workforce, women are earning more professional degrees, seizing start-up opportunities and learning networking skills to sustain their small businesses beyond the initial launch phase. Now the expansive report — covering 83 economies — adds to that growing body of research and has found more women starting businesses and triggering community impact through job creation.
"We've seen women starting out cleaning houses in the neighborhood, then eventually expanding to cleaning office buildings, then hiring 100 people," said Donna Kelley, one of the lead authors of the report. The cleaning business, in turn, can trigger the need for accountants and other professionals, widening the impact of that single business in a region. "In places like Africa and emerging economies, there can be huge opportunities," said Kelley, an entrepreneurship professor at Babson College.