Sup­port for fe­male en­tre­pren­eurs

In almost all regions of the world, the number of female entrepreneurs is significantly lower than their male counterparts. Worldwide, women make up only about one third of all company proprietors. x

On average, women-run businesses are smaller than those of men-run and are more likely to operate in the informal sector x due to unequal conditions, barriers and existing social norms and roles.

Causes and ef­fects of the im­bal­ance:

  • In many countries, regulations on ownership and property rights discriminate against women resulting in less business capital being available to them. Moreover, the lack of property and, consequently, the lack of collateral makes it considerably more difficult to obtain credit from finance companies.
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises run by women face an enormous gap in financing and credit, which the International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates at over 300 billion US dollars. x
  • Family obligations and social norms also restrict women's mobility making relocating difficult.
  • The dual burdens of domestic work and childcare are further reasons why women are often restricted in their entrepreneurial activities. x
  • Furthermore, women have less contact with business networks, the supply industry and markets.

All these various forms of discrimination and disadvantage often exacerbate each other and prevent women-run businesses from growing.

  • Women
  • Men

Worldwide, women make up only about a third of all company owners.

Op­por­tun­it­ies to strengthen wo­men en­tre­pren­eurs

Economies with a high share of female entrepreneurship are more resilient to financial crises and experience economic slowdowns less frequently. 

  • Supporting female entrepreneurship often overlaps with taking measures for financial inclusion, for example, ensuring equitable legal frameworks for women to acquire (land) ownership helps both female entrepreneurship and financial inclusion.
  • Adapting financial products and services to the needs of women is also relevant in both areas.

  • To strengthen entrepreneurial activities, support geared to the needs of female entrepreneurs is required, for example, networking among women entrepreneurs, gender-sensitive start-up assistance, education, advanced training, consultancy and merging women-run businesses into a cooperative.


  1. Source:  World Bank Group (2019) Profiting from Parity: Unlocking the Potential of Women’s Business in Africa, p.36, 39 
  2. Source: IFC (2017) Crafting a Future for Women Entrepreneurs
  3. Source: World Bank Group (2019) Profiting from Parity: Unlocking the Potential of Women’s Business in Africa