HIGH Potential for Women Entrepreneurship

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Governments across the world are vying to create the their own versions of Silicon Valley–super-hot regions that will spur startup growth and economic activity. But when it comes to harnessing the entrepreneurial ambitions of half the population–women–a new report shows that in many countries, even the most basic preconditions for significant entrepreneurial activity are lacking.

The Gender-Global Entrepreneurial Development Index examines legal, economic, and cultural factors that affect entrepreneurship across 30 developed and developing countries. The goal of the report, which was commissioned by Dell and was released at the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network conference on Monday, is to show governments what they can do to encourage mass entrepreneurship among women.

The lead researcher on the project, Ruta Aidis, acknowledges that within even the least promising environments, some women will become successful entrepreneurs. But for a large population that is on the fence, the political, cultural, and economic environment matters greatly. “We are looking at the potential and promising entrepreneurs who say they are quite sensitive to their conditions,” says Aidis.

For the second year in a row, the United States and Australia topped the list, and all of the top-ranked countries are economically developed nations. “They have stable business environments, equal rights for women, access to education and capital,” says Aidis. Still, “not enough women know an entrepreneur [a primary predictor of entrepreneurship] or see a business opportunity.”

That seeming stasis masks wide disparities throughout the list.

Basic rights are still lacking in many of the countries studied. In 22 of the 30 countries considered, married women have fewer legal rights than married men. In 21 countries, women do not have the same access to employment as men. In eight countries women have fewer property rights than men.

In 14 of the 30 countries, at least half the female population does not have a bank account, with the disparity between the sexes being the highest in Turkey.

Women in emerging markets are more likely to see business opportunities. In the U.S., about one-third of the women surveyed said they had identified an opportunity for a business. (That doesn’t mean they actually started one.) In Africa, more than two thirds of women have identified a business opportunity.

There a number of countries that score uncommonly strongly on a few indicators, but are bottlenecked by others, says Aidis.

In Jamaica, there are a lot of women leaders, but they work within a discriminatory legal environment.

South Korea has a good business environment and access to capital, but very few women in leadership.

In Nigeria, many women see economic and business opportunities, but, as in Jamaica, face a discriminatory legal environment.

Even within the highest-ranking countries, there’s room for improvement. For instance, a few industries–notably tech–are overwhelmingly male. That makes it less likely that women entrepreneurs will emerge in those sectors. It seems that women entrepreneurs don’t need the ‘next’ Silicon Valley; they could simply benefit from a more balanced version of the first one.

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GEDI’s women’s entrepreneurship index – the Gender GEDI – measures the development of high potential female entrepreneurship worldwide. Defined as “innovative, market expanding, and export oriented,” this gender specific Index utilizes GEDI’s unique framework, methodology, and global approach in order to capture the multi-dimensional aspects of entrepreneurial development. The index was launched in June in Istanbul, Turkey at the annual meeting of the Dell Women Entrepreneurs Network (DWEN) and covered by Forbes Magazine.

Download the executive report here, including full scores, rankings, and regional analysis for our 17 pilot countries.

Like the GEDI Index, the gender Index framework pairs together individual-level and institutional-level variables into pillars. These contain three main sub-indices that measure the quality of: 1). the entrepreneurial environment; 2). the entrepreneurial eco-system; and 3). women’s entrepreneurial aspirations. GEDI’s proprietary methodology captures the dynamic, inter-related nature of the pillars.

Data is sourced from internationally recognized datasets including the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the International Labor Organization, the World Economic Forum, the World Bank, UNESCO, and United Nations Development Program. Data collected for individual-level variables are disaggregated by gender. For institutional variables, data points highlight issues relevant to the development and growth of female entrepreneurship. The initial women’s Index will analyze 17 countries: Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Japan, Malaysia, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom and the United States.

Sponsored by Dell Inc., GEDI’s women’s index was launched at the annual meeting of the Dell Women Entrepreneurs Network (DWEN) on June 2-4, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey. Read more on the Dell website.

Dr. Ruta Aidis leads the project, with collaborators Zoltan Acs and Laszlo Szerb. Julie Weeks is Women’s Enterprise Consultant and Ainsley Lloyd provides research assistance.

Follow our blog, join the Gender-GEDI LinkedIn Groupor follow us on Twitter for regular updates

Downloads: Country pages

Spotlight on Pay it Forward – Anasayu in action

In Istanbul this summer we introduced our Pay it Forward initiative to help empower a million women entrepreneurs by 2015. Anasuya Gupta, Chairperson and Managing Director of CICO Technologies Limited, an 80-year-old construction chemicals company in New Delhi, India, is a perfect example of a woman living the ‘pay it forward’ mission.

anasayu_guptaAnasuya’s story of how she came to lead CICO is a feat of its own. Suffering a huge personal loss and possessing little formal business experience, she took over the chemicals company after her husband’s untimely death in 2008. She has since led the organization to success, cleaning out poor performers and increasing profitability, eventually being able to completely buy back the company’s private equity investor’s share to increase employee ownership. She also played a key role in formulating and implementing HR policies for the organization, which helped to create the award-winning employee relations that exist at the company today.

In addition to her role as leader of CICO, Anasuya recently took on another role – mentor to a woman named Prajna Sen, her former classmate, who is trying to build a better life for herself through turning her mosaic tile craft into a successful business venture.

For many women in India, marriage and family are considered the top priority and the expected role for women, so helping Prajna break the mold and start her own business is a huge undertaking. Anasuya is not only providing her guidance and support as a fellow businesswoman, she also gave Prajna a boost by purchasing ten of her mosaic wall hangings. Rather than giving a handout, Anasuya became Prajna’s first customer, and purchased the mosaics as corporate gifts for Diwali, one of the most important festivals of the year for Hindus. The profits from the sale have allowed Prajna to launch an exhibition of her work, and the exhibition will help Prajna raise money to create her own website to showcase and sell her mosaics.

And this isn’t all Anasuya has been doing to ‘pay it forward’ to the next generation of women. Anasuya is helping one of her employees by sponsoring his daughter’s education and having her live in her home with her. Like many other young girls who live in the villages in India, lack of resources had caused her education to be put on hold. Anasuya has enrolled the young girl in school and is paying her tuition to ensure that she can catch up to her peers and build a platform for a future of self-sustenance.

“I want her to avoid the fate of many girls who wind up being married off at a young age to have families without any concern for their education or financial independence,” said Anasuya. Anasuya has plans to support three more girls in their education this year.”

How have you helped to ‘pay it forward’ in your own lives? Share your story on the Women Powering Business group on LinkedIn and log your gestures on dell.com/payitforward.

Anasuya Gupta is the Chairperson & Managing Director of CICO Technologies Limited. Since taking on this role she has committed herself to leading the organization from the front and to keep it moving on the path of unprecedented growth that it has achieved in recent years. She is also founder and trustee of the Amit Gupta Foundation, is the organizer of the Organ Transplant Awareness Programme, and is a member of the National Council Member of Construction Federation of India.

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