Encouraging women entrepreneurs

Pillar 3

Attracting women entrepreneurs, encouraging women to start businesses

Businesses owned and operated by women are the lifeblood of our cities, towns and villages. Vibrant as these enterprises are, the large majority remain small with limited prospects for growth. Vast opportunity remains for women to start and lead more high-growth businesses with national and global ambitions.

We are proposing four recommendations to inspire, support and equip girls and women to enter the entrepreneurial sector with ambitions for success and growth. We expect to see significant gains for both women and the U.S. and Canadian economies as the level of participation of women in entrepreneurial ventures expands. The recommendations are:

1. You Are Ready: a campaign to accelerate women-led entrepreneurship as a global competitive advantage for the U.S. and Canada.

We believe that a You Are Ready campaign along the lines of Canada’s Own the Podium program ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver could lay the foundation for a huge increase in the number of female-led global enterprises headquartered in our two countries. We need to show the same boldness when it comes to women in business. As part of the campaign, a goal of achieving the highest-ever growth of female-led businesses within 10 years should be set.

2. Formal collaboration between Canadian and U.S. groups that support women entrepreneurship.

Many effective organizations are dedicated to female entrepreneurship, and they are truly making a difference. However, more can be done to develop networks, training and tools to support women entrepreneurs and this will be best achieved through sustained coordination between the U.S. and Canada.

3. Targeted education for present and future women entrepreneurs.

We strongly endorse education programs that bring role models and experts into the classroom from an early age. Organizations such as Junior Achievement, Young Entrepreneurs and Girls Who Code, among others, could play a valuable role in promoting such a mindset.
At the same time, both the public and private sectors should step up support for university entrepreneurship hubs and incubators across a wide variety of disciplines.

4. A focus on capital

Access to capital remains one of the biggest barriers to growth for women-owned businesses. We recommend a focus on tools and programs to encourage and equip women entrepreneurs to access capital and pursue high growth enterprises. These critical issues will be examined in more detail in the council’s subsequent report on Increasing Women’s Access to Capital.

So much done. So much to do.

Women entrepreneurs have made huge strides over the past few decades. Whether measured by number of businesses, revenues, employees or taxes paid, their contribution to the U.S. and Canadian economies has grown phenomenally.

But we cannot rest on our laurels. The story of women-owned businesses is one of unrealized potential. Women-owned businesses are concentrated in just a few segments, and tend to be more local than national or global. Most important, women are severely under-represented in sectors of the digital economy that are likely to see the most impressive growth in years to come.

So, while we take pride in the progress that women entrepreneurs have made, we know that their journey has only just begun.

Date Posted: Mar, 2018