Don't Be Discouraged: 4 Actions Women Entrepreneurs Can Take Now

The newly released Dell-sponsored Gender-Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI) revealed that more than 75% of the 30 countries surveyed are not providing the most fundamental conditions required for female entrepreneurs to prosper. Even more troubling, emerging economies are much further behind than advanced economies in creating the conditions that enable businesses founded by women to thrive. 

The report correctly directs policy makers and institutions to work on improving conditions for female entrepreneurs on several fronts, simultaneously. In the interim, what actions can you personally take to enable your own business success?


1. GEDI Finding: In 14 of the 30 countries, 50 percent or more of the female population is unbanked.

WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW: If you don't have your own bank account, open one right away. Then establish a relationship with a banker. Many banks even have women-focused departments. Find ways to establish credit in your own name even on a small scale and even if you don't really need to borrow the money. Doing so will build your credit and relationship with a bank for your future credit and financial needs.

2.  GEDI Finding: Many industries remain male-dominated.

WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW: Explore jobs or business opportunities in male-dominated industries in high-growth sectors. Don't limit yourself to sectors traditionally identified with women's work. Even if your education and skills are in general areas such as marketing, communications or HR, explore business ideas in fast-growth markets currently dominated by men.

3.  GEDI Finding: Despite the challenges women in emerging economies face, female start-up activity is on the rise in these markets. In regions like Latin America and the Caribbean, the number of female startups are close to the number of businesses started by men, and in Ghana, there are more female than male startups. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW: Connect with other women and men who have entrepreneurial ambitions and explore ways you can start and grow a business together. Align with more experienced business people, soliciting their advice and mentoring on succeeding with your venture.

4.  GEDI Finding: More women are needed at the top. All over the world, we still have not reached gender parity in executive roles. What does this have to do with entrepreneurship? While ideas, risk taking and perseverance are prerequisites to starting a business, management experience and working at scale are needed to grow a business.

WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW: Before we jump to the conclusion that emerging economies have the lowest levels of women in senior roles, earlier this year Grant Thornton released a new report finding the top countries for women in senior management were all emerging economies. Find ways to connect with the senior and even mid level manager women (and men) in your country and solicit their advice on your business venture. You may even be able to convince one to take the entrepreneurial plunge and join you in growing your start up.

Yes, governments, policy makers and institutions have much to do to level the playing field for women. But, we cannot just wait for them to do so. There's a lot we can do on our own to enable our own business success!

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Rania Habiby Anderson is the President and Founder of The Way Women Work, an entrepreneur, executive business coach and an angel investor. Throughout her professional life, Rania has been observing, researching, connecting with and guiding the way women work.  As a leading authority on business women in developing and emerging markets Rania works with business women globally and established The Way Women Work as career and business advice site for women in developing and emerging markets.

Rania is also the co-founder of the Women’s Capital Connection, the 8th women's angel network in the United States and an equity investor in women-owned businesses. 

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