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Women in Entrepreneurship – Highlights and Lessons from a Roundtable

Women are making swift progress in the startup ecosystem with over 250 million female entrepreneurs around the world [1]. While the field continues to be male-dominated, many influential people are recognizing the power and opportunity women in the space provide. In the U.S., the number of women-owned firms has increased 114% in the past 20 years [2] to four out of ten businesses [3]. However, the progress is not consistent across geographies. Europe has the lowest early-stage female involvement in entrepreneurship [4] and in India, 15 million women-owned enterprises make up only 20% of all businesses in the country [5]. The scaling and growth of these female-led businesses could have a major economic impact. According to the Bain & Company report, it is estimated that this segment could create up to 170 million jobs in India over the next decade alone.

On Women’s Day 2021, MathWorks India announced an event to bring focus on women entrepreneurs. With an all-women panel of practitioners and experts from the startup and incubator ecosystem, the event was held on March 23rd and was attended by aspiring entrepreneurs, students, academicians, and accelerator and incubator management among others. Highlighted below are some of the key takeaway points from the discussion.

Key takeaways from the event:

  • Providing a platform for existing women entrepreneurs: Highlighting women entrepreneurs as role models and the need to focus on what can we do better to give these entrepreneurs a platform.
  • Valuing competence over confidence: Examining how the work environment may contribute to differences in female entrepreneurs or women in business in general and concluding the environment needs to change to empower women by focusing on competence over confidence.
  • Increasing the number of women in Entrepreneurship: There has been an improvement in the number of women taking up entrepreneurship which could be related to the increasing number of women in STEM. Hence, improving access to education and women participating in higher technical education could create sustainable growth.
  • The role of the startup ecosystem to support women entrepreneurs: Moving from a mentorship model to a sponsorship model could be the way ahead to support women entrepreneurs.
  • A need for policy intervention: Access to finance and infrastructure based on industry would be helpful. As no two startups are the same and needs based on industry vary, it is important to understand the industry-based needs and provide infrastructure or a support system accordingly.
  • Economic growth impact: A report commissioned by the UK government highlighted the need to improve female entrepreneurship, potentially adding 250 million dollars of additional value to the UK economy if women took up entrepreneurship at the same rate as men.

View the full roundtable recording below!

 

[1] https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/more-than-250m-women-worldwide-are-entrepreneurs-according-to-the-global-entrepreneurship-monitor-womens-report-from-babson-college-and-smith-college-300960196.html

[2] https://www.inc.com/business-insider/more-women-entrepreneurs-today-than-20-years-ago-its-troubling.html 

[3] https://www.wbenc.org/news/behind-the-numbers-the-state-of-women-owned-businesses-in-2018/

[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/ninaangelovska/2019/05/12/europe-we-have-a-problem-8-facts-about-female-entrepreneurs-in-the-digital-age/?sh=51502624d420

[5] https://www.bain.com/contentassets/dd3604b612d84aa48a0b120f0b589532/report_powering_the_economy_with_her_-_women_entrepreneurship_in-india.pdf

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