Championing female entrepreneurship not only benefits profit margins, but also the development of economies and societies around the world. However, according to the 2019 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, how much opportunity a woman has to become a business owner is intrinsically linked to where in the world she is born and reaches adulthood.
Women in the U.S., New Zealand, and Canada topped the 2019 index, driven by highly conducive entrepreneurial conditions. Of the 30 million businesses in the U.S., women own 39% or 11.6 million, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners. Women are vital contributors to the U.S. economy, generating more than $1.7 trillion in receipts. Meanwhile, over the last 12 months, New Zealand has witnessed an increase in the proportion of women engaged in political roles, which may be spurred by the positive influence imparted by Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.
Despite being wealthy nations, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. in MEA, Italy and the Czech Republic in Europe, and Japan in Asia Pacific underperformed. Egypt recorded a women business ownership rate of 4.1%, with the gender gap in women’s progress attributed to unstable political environment.
Whereas in Saudi, although business ownership among women is the lowest of the global markets surveyed, with an average of only 1.6% of business owners being female, in general the perception of the opportunity and capability to start a business is very strong among the adult population aged 18 to 64.
In the U.A.E., although the perception of good business opportunities is very high, and the intention to start a business is high, only one in every 10 adults are actually engaged in earlystage entrepreneurial activities. In January last year, the U.A.E. cabinet began implementing new regulations that allow full foreign ownership of businesses and 10-year residency visas for expats, investors and entrepreneurs. This is expected to help draw in foreign investors, invigorate the Gulf market and provide more scope for female entrepreneurs.