Carlos M. Gutierrez, Jr., Contributor

The ability to chart one’s own economic destiny by becoming an entrepreneur is one of the hallmarks of capitalism. Many of today’s most recognized companies and brands began as the brainchild of an individual who embraced the risks of entrepreneurship with hopes of realizing their entrepreneurial vision. Yet, while in theory entrepreneurship is anybody’s game, rates of female entrepreneurship have historically lagged those of men.

Thankfully, for the benefit of innovation, business, and society as a whole, in recent years we have seen an increase in rates of women entrepreneurship. Globally, from 2015 to 2016, women entrepreneurship rates increased by double that of their male counterparts. In the United States, not only do women own 11.3 million businesses, it is estimated that 36 percent of all businesses are owned by women, an increase of six percent from 2007. Perhaps not surprisingly, according to a study by Dell, the United States ranks number one in the world in terms of providing the world’s most favorable business climate for women entrepreneurs.

Increasing female entrepreneurship rates are only half of the story. The economic impact of increased female entrepreneurial participation is significant and holds the potential to continue to be a major driver of economic growth. In the United States, with an economic impact of $3 trillion, women owned businesses are credited with creating or maintaining 23 million jobs. When coupled with statistics showing that women-led companies perform twice as well as those led by men, one can begin to imagine the significant impact the continued increase of women-led businesses can have on domestic job creation and economic growth. Furthermore, as investors continue to seek opportunities to maximize returns on their capital they would be wise to look towards female-led businesses; studies show that on average female founded companies create over 60 percent more value for investors than those founded by men.

Despite great strides, female entrepreneurs continue to face roadblocks. As noted by the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD), among other challenges, lack of training and financing remain major obstacles for female entrepreneurs in the United States. The lack of financing allocated for women-led enterprises is particularly appalling; of the $58 billion that was invested by venture capitalists in 2016 only $1.46 billion reached women-led companies. While female-led businesses are increasingly being funded, access to capital for female entrepreneurs is far from reaching parity.

Regardless of gender, any entrepreneur will tell you that successful entrepreneurship is a challenging task requiring deep commitment and unlimited amounts of motivation. A testament to the aforementioned, I recently had the opportunity to interview entrepreneur, designer, and author Tala Raassi, the founder of Tala Raassi SwimwearDubbed by Newsweek magazine as “One of the Most Fearless Women in the World”, Tala’s memoir, “Fashion Is Freedom: How a Girl from Tehran Broke the Rules to Change her World” traces her unlikely path to fashion industry entrepreneurship. Fresh off the heels of her recent TedX talk, Tala and I discussed her views on business, women entrepreneurship, and writing a book.

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