How to Create a Better Environment for Women Entrepreneurs

How to create a better environment for women entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs are on a steady rise. In the paper titled The Changing Experience of Australian Female Entrepreneurs, “The study of female entrepreneurship is a dynamic field with more women than men engaging in self-employment in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.”

The increasing numbers of women entrepreneurs is great news and yet, conditions could be a lot better. Challenges that women face in the business world still exist; gender disparity in financing and funding, stereotypes that affect the growth of women entrepreneurs in male dominated industries, lack of practical support to maintain work-life flow, and the want of mentorship and guidance, are some of the bigger problems at hand.

There is a need then to create an environment that fosters women entrepreneurs and surmount the above challenges. The following ways are what can be done toward building a favourable environment for women entrepreneurs:

1)    Putting in place policies and efforts that address existing challenges

The above challenges are just some obstacles women face when following the path of entrepreneurship. Upon identifying these issues, policies can be implemented by the government or even within organisations to help mitigate these challenges.

The African Development Bank and International Labour Organisation sets an excellent example in this regard. As early as 2003, they sought “to identify the most appropriate means of contributing to an improved enabling environment for women to start and grow enterprises.”  Their vision led to the Integrated Framework for Growth-Oriented Women Entrepreneurs (GOWE), which looked into various aspects that would improve the opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

An offshoot of this initiative is the Support for Growth-oriented Women Entrepreneurs in Tanzania, a program that focused on boosting employment through initiatives like the Small Enterprise Development. A SME Development Policy was subsequently proposed to include gender mainstreaming and measures to promote women entrepreneurship, among them the designing of special program and the addressing of factors inhibiting women and the disadvantaged.

Having policies that ensure women entrepreneurs get the equal opportunity they seek will certainly go a long way in creating an environment for women entrepreneurs to excel.

2)    Encourage women towards tech based entrepreneurship

Within the tech sector, gender disparity still exists. Though it’s promising that the participation rates of women in the field of engineering have improved, a critical mass of 30-40% is still required to balance the gender disparity. To encourage more women to joining the tech sector, education establishments such as universities can consider offering scholarship programs toward women applicants, like in the Lead to Win program from Carleton University.

Courses like the Innovation Strategies for a Changing World designed specially for women by Harvard University is also an admirable example of providing avenues for education and growth of women in Science. Such opportunities for women to foster education on technical courses will encourage greater learning toward tech roles, ultimately contributing to the tech sector of the future.

3)    Better financing options

Despite solid facts that prove women-led tech companies bring in revenue nearly 12% higher than male-led companies, women still get less than five percent of Venture Capital funding. This goes to show that obtaining finance still poses a big challenge for women.

The result of such unconscious bias on women has affected the way they seek funding and ultimately their ability to grow their businesses. A majority of women are now choosing to start ventures using funds from their personal savings or loans from family and friends according to the paper on the Changing Experience of Australian Female Entrepreneurs. Without the confidence to seek bigger funding options, women will only be limited to starting up small-scale businesses.

Better financial options for women, an unbiased approach to risk assessment by investors and bankers, and an increase in women-led VCs can together bring about better financial environment for women entrepreneurs to both start and grow their ventures.

4)    Fostering women networks

Mentors are a vital aspect for all businesses. These are people who can guide the business, provide sound advice from an ‘outside’ perspective and also the connections that will subsequently help in business growth. In the case of women entrepreneurs according to the Creating an Environment That Encourages Women Entrepreneurs, it’s a pity to learn that they “lack access to advice, counselling and encouragement. This is largely attributed to a lack of donor-supported services. Women, in most cases, do not have the funds to pay for these services, and those that can afford user-pay programming do not prioritise funds to pay for these services.”

To improve on the current situation for women entrepreneurs, the benefits of mentoring must be educated and emphasised so women will understand the importance of having a mentor. The demand for women mentors must also be met with the supply, so other women who have experience should also speak up to share their experiences as mentors.

It may be a less-than-perfect world for women entrepreneurs; but it is looking up as governments, international bodies, and financial institutions are working towards creating a better environment for them. At behind closed doors, we are doing our part in fostering a better environment for women businesses by providing mentorship guidance and support to women entrepreneurs globally. Our network not only encourages and supports fellow business women but also helps in opening doors to new opportunities and markets. If you are a woman and are seeking a mentor or would like to be a mentor, we would love to hear from you.

Let us know your experience including what has worked for you as an entrepreneur.

Donny

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Female Entrepreneurs Harness the Power of Social Media

Female Entrepreneurs Use Social Media

Female Entrepreneurs Use Social Media

There is no debate on the power of social media in boosting business. Women all over the world are recognising this truth and going all out in capitalising on this. One paper was even written by the University of Johannesburg on this subject matter where, according to the study, 43% of women entrepreneurs use at least one social media tool for their business compared to 37% of male entrepreneurs – definite proof that women are ruling social media.

So, what is it that makes women better at using social media for their business?

1)    More Empathy and Social skills

Women are better ‘wired’ for empathy than men, according to a theory propounded by psychologist Baron-Cohen after extensive research from a genetic and biological viewpoint. This means that generally women are better at social skills and adaptability – both great assets when it comes to social media.

2)    Better Communicators

Women were also determined to be better communicators than men. According to the findings, “when talking about serious issues such as current affairs, men and women were on the same wavelength in terms of the language used, but while socialising women are the more skilled communicators.” This was attributed to the fact that men have trouble expressing themselves while chatting to friends because their words contain less variety than women.

Another study sheds more light on the fundamental difference in linguistic behaviour between the genders. Drawing from earlier research, the study on Gender, Status and Power in Discourse Behavior of Men and Women deduces that women focus on the emotional quotient of an interaction more than men do, using linguistics to increase solidarity.

Using social media successfully calls for the communication to others in a social manner, over the new media. Women being good at the various communication skills are the reason why they are so good at social media.

3)    Women listen

While social media and conversations make up the building blocks of an online presence for an organisation, the ability to listen to what others say and respond proactively is what enables women to keep the conversation and the clicks going. According to a HBR research “if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises.” Linking the results to the probable reason, Anita Woolley, one of the researchers said, “What do you hear about great groups? Not that the members are all really smart, but that they listen to each other. They share criticism constructively. They have open minds. They’re not autocratic.”

Being successful on social media is not an extraordinary feat. Women at all levels and demographics have used the power of social media for their business and have been rewarded for their efforts.

A case in point is Caroline Ceniza-Levine, the co-founder of SixFigureStart, which specialises in corporate training, HR consulting and leadership coaching along with placement consultation. Caroline’s social media efforts resulted in the company’s 600% growth within the first four years and CBS, CNN and Fox Business lauding her social media efforts.  “It’s simply establishing relationships and getting people to trust you and know you better and that can lead to something tangible,” she says. “As a career and business coach, being seen on these social media outlets is important. My ability to meet people and grow my client-base is enhanced by social media.”

How you can start to up your social media efforts

1.     Personalise your message

The uniqueness of social media marketing lies in that you can market your product without actually appearing to do so, and when you do market your product, it needs to market to what the people want. People like reading stories, so share your story, and even get the people in your company to share theirs. Engage your customers further by giving them a slice of the action and get them on your pages. Let it be about the people. The moment people sense you are pushing your products, they will lose interest and look at your efforts as just another marketing gimmick.

2.     Stir emotions

The ability to move and appeal to human emotions is something that has been proven to work time and time again for marketing campaigns. Work towards messages that appeal to the emotions and your campaigns will be a success.

Another vital component of social media networking is collaboration between women-owned businesses. The desire to help each other advance in careers has led to the emergence of a rich ecosystem of networking groups, which has been a great source of business contacts and opportunities.

Opportunities on social media are aplenty, but it’s you that can capitalise on these opportunities and use them as tools of success.

Donny

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