According to a study carried out in 43 countries and territories by the Global Entrepreneurship Research Association, female entrepreneurs are especially common in developing nations like Angola as well as in developed countries on the Arabian Peninsular, like Saudi Arabia, Oman or Kuwait, and in the Americas, for example in Panama, Chile and the United States. Many developed nations in Europe have very low rates of female entrepreneurs, according to the study.
The researchers distinguish between necessity-driven entrepreneurship, which can be caused by a lack of formal employment opportunities in a country, and innovation-driven entrepreneurialism, which exists in countries with well-developed formal job markets.
Yet, within both types of economies, big differences exist between the rates of female entrepreneurs. While in Angola, more than 50 percent of adult women engaged in entrepreneurial activity (slightly above the rate for men), fewer women were entrepreneurs in low-income countries like Egypt (5.4 percent) or Morocco (4.5 percent). Here, it was more common for men to be entrepreneurs (around 10-17 percent each).
European countries fared extraordinarily badly, with Italy (0.9 percent) having the second-lowest rate of female entrepreneurship in the ranking ahead of Poland (2.4 percent). Panama was the developed country with most female entrepreneurs (29.1 percent).
In most developed countries, the rate of male entrepreneurs was 50 to 100 percent higher than that of female entrepreneurs. Among high-income countries, Germany and Spain had progressed furthest in closing that gap, with less than 1 percentage point separating male and female entrepreneurship rates.
But a closer gap in male and female entrepreneurs can also point to less equality in the job market. In South Korea, a country with a very traditional corporate culture, female entrepreneurship rates have soared recently as a response to unequal career opportunities for women.
The rate of female entrepreneurs exceeded the male rate in Saudi Arabia in 2020 (17.7 percent compared to 17.0 percent) and Oman (17.3 percent/14.7 percent) as well as Indonesia (10 percent/9.1 percent) and Kazakhstan (20.9 percent/19.3 percent).
November 19 marks Women's Entrepreneurship Day.