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Female startup founders worldwide - statistics & facts

Female-founded and female-led startups are becoming more commonplace, but still only account for a small fraction of startups worldwide. This is true across all countries in the world, though there are some regional differences. For instance, Central and Eastern Europe has more female founders than any other region in Europe. However, the fact that male founders outnumber female founders is universally true: West Africa, Sweden, or the United States.

Why are there so few female founders?

There are several factors which play a role in the lack of female founders, or even cofounders. Fundraising is vital for the survival of an early-stage company, because they need capital to develop and market their product before they begin turning a profit. However, there is a gender financing gap when it comes to both debt financing and equity financing, which means that male founders are raising more capital than their female counterparts. Additionally, the share of venture capital funding invested in startups with at least one female founder has remained at around 12 percent every year since 2011. Another factor which may be deterring women from entering the startup scene is the prevalence of workplace harassment they face. A higher share of female founders reported experiencing gender discrimination while fundraising in a 2020 survey.

How successful are female-led startups?

Some of the key success markers for startups are their market valuation, or whether they successfully exit and go public. The number of female-founded startups achieving unicorn status, or a valuation of at least one billion U.S. dollars, has steadily grown in recent years, but these startups still only account for a small percentage of all unicorns worldwide. Similarly the number of companies led by women which went public over the past decade only account for a fraction of all companies which completed an IPO during the same period.

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