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Female Entrepreneurship: Why womenpreneurs could spread post-Covid

Why are female entrepreneurs important? Why does our economy need women entrepreneurs?

There has never been a more critical time for increasing the number of female entrepreneurs. Women are over-represented in the casual workforce, hospitality, tourism, retail, and other hard-hit sectors by the Covid pandemic.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics October 2021 figures show 60% of women in the workforce compared to 69.5% of men, and only 26.1% of full-time workers are women. Traditional nine-to-five employee roles are not suited to many women. Yet, the economic potential of the female workforce exceeds Australia’s untapped mineral resources with far lower extraction costs.

Women have suffered a more significant burden of childcare and eldercare during lock-downs. The increase in domestic violence during the pandemic has highlighted the importance of financial freedom for women at a time when they have suffered the most significant economic impact.

Currently, only 22% of founders are female in Australia, and women own 31% of businesses. Staggeringly, 30.2% of boards and governing bodies have no female directors compared to only 0.4% with no male directors. As of July 2021, only 33.5% of directors in the ASX 200 are women.

Participation of women in business is vital for our economic recovery post-Covid, and diversity is the key to innovation. The Boston Scientific Group found women business owners received on average US$1 million less in startup funding yet generated more than twice as much per dollar invested than those companies founded by men. This is not only a matter of gender equity; it makes good business sense.

Running your own business provides flexibility in work hours and location. Turning your passion into a business offers an opportunity to do what you love. Women understand women problems and are creative in finding solutions, employing women and people of diverse backgrounds, showing resilience and leadership in a crisis, and are purpose-driven to make a difference to their communities.

Look at what happened when a female founder broke into the male-dominated market of women’s undergarments. Sara Blakely recently sold a share in her shapewear business, Spanx, a company valued at US$1.2 billion. To celebrate, she surprised her employees each with two first-class tickets to anywhere in the world and US$10,000 cash.

Women seek balance, care about solutions and when they are passionate about something, they never give up. Women entrepreneurs create businesses that benefit themselves, their families, their employees, communities, customers, and the world. Think of a woman on a mission — she is unstoppable! Through hours of unequal share of childcare and domestic duties, they are overqualified machines when it comes to sweat equity — the backbone of startups.

Women leaders standing out through the Covid pandemic include the New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Arden, Germany’s Angela Merkel and South Australia’s Nicola Spurrier. An analysis by the Universities of Liverpool and Reading found female leaders were more decisive during the pandemic and locked down early, saving lives.

Research by the Harvard Business Review found women scored higher than men in the following leadership skills; initiative, resilience, self-development, integrity, honesty, motivating others, building relationships, collaboration, teamwork, problem-solving, and innovation. They also found younger women have lower levels of self-confidence.

Barriers for women include fear of failure and lack of self-belief, unconscious bias, career gender stereotypes, access to funding and networking. In the US, only 2.2% of venture capital funding goes to female founder companies highlighting the need for improved access to financing for women.

Raising the profile of female entrepreneurs, mentoring women in business, and networking will support female entrepreneurs and combat gender bias. Young girls need leaders who look like them to build their self-belief and have big, audacious dreams.

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Dr Samantha Pillay

Dr Samantha Pillay

Dr Samantha Pillay is a surgeon, entrepreneur, educator, public speaker, single mother & Amazon No1 Best Selling author.