Regardless of the change in time which has led to over 252 million women entrepreneurs around the world, they are still struggling to overcome the challenges that they face regularly.
With approximately, 1/3rd of the entrepreneurs in the world being women, it has never looked better for them on paper. Unfortunately, these numbers only tell a part of their story. Men still run a very big part of the business. Just like in most sectors of the world today, gender norms are greatly affecting the ecosystem of entrepreneurship. It’s creating major challenges for women all over.
Here are some of the points to highlight the various disparities faced by women entrepreneurs around the world.
Problem of finance
Finance is regarded as the “life-blood” for any enterprise, be it big or small. However, women entrepreneurs suffer from the shortage of finance on two counts.
Firstly, women do not generally have property on their names to use as collateral for obtaining funds from external sources. Thus, their access to external sources of funds is limited.
Secondly, the banks also consider women less credit-worthy and discourage women borrowers on the belief that they can at any time leave their business. Given such a situation, women entrepreneurs are bound to rely on their own savings, if any, and loans from friends and relatives who are expectedly meager and negligible. Thus, women enterprises fail due to the shortage of finance.
Defying social expectations
Most female business owners who have attended networking events can relate to this scenario. You walk into a crowded seminar and can count the number of women there on one hand. When women entrepreneurs talk business with primarily male executives, it can be unnerving.
In this sort of situation, women may feel as though they need to adopt a stereotypically “male” attitude toward business: competitive, aggressive, and sometimes harsh.
Entrepreneurship demands time and patience and a large number of women are not just business or career people. They have a family, spouse, children, and various other responsibilities. Society and family expect her to be a good mother and wife and must be always available for her family. Whereas, business demands her to be a leader and show commitment.
It often becomes difficult to balance personal and professional life and it is much more difficult for those who lack support from family. Still, many women entrepreneurs are successfully balancing their personal and professional life.
This is one of the most used terms in today’s world, that are women equally paid for the work, yet it seems to bring very little change or at most places nothing at all. In every field we go, we see a male leading it. Women must make their way up in a masculine world facing all stigma and discrimination.
Although the government tried to make a favorable environment for them, women continue to be seen as inferior to men despite having the right attitude and aptitude for the job. And these struggles only add up difficulties to start a business.
Building market access
This is the challenge of every entrepreneur, more so women entrepreneurs. Their networks are usually smaller and therefore they do not have much access to the market when they start.
Among all the challenges women entrepreneurs face, the unfavorable environment is among the top obstacles women face. In some places, even when women own a business they are supposed to require a male partner to make deals, negotiate, or be a business face.
Also, the fear of harassment and constant growth in rape cases limit their opportunity to choose their business location, opening hours which results in the chances of their success. Entrepreneurs’ lives are not easy and it is only tougher for women entrepreneurs.
Although, despite all these problems, there are a number of successful businesswomen. They continue to run their enterprise successfully, balancing their personal and professional lives. It is their dedication to managing against all the odds to become a successful entrepreneur which has changed people’s perception towards women to a greater extent.
The World Bank and its donor nations, as well as leading businesses, universities, and NGOs are now focused to support women-owned businesses.