The US is the best place to be a female entrepreneur, closely followed by Canada, Australia, Sweden and the UK, according to new research.
The report, compiled by ACG Inc and sponsored by Dell (pdf), looks at a series of factors in order to determine which countries provide the best environment for women running their own businesses. As well as analysing the overall business environment within the country, the report looks at several gender-focused factors. These include the level of access to education, banking, training and the internet, as well as the number of women starting businesses or in leadership positions within other organisations.
Although the US comes top overall, the report highlights the lack of funding available to US women: in 2014 just 3% of female-owned businesses received venture capital. It also points out that in Silicon Valley, the country’s most famous entrepreneurial hub, just one in ten tech startups are led by women.
The report looks at 31 countries in total, with Bangladesh (31) and Pakistan (30) coming bottom due to lack of access to education and finance for women.
However, some countries have managed to grow a strong community of female entrepreneurs even without the infrastructure required. Nigeria comes 23rd overall, brought down by its general business environment, which requires that a country isn’t hindered by regulation or corruption and has capital available for business growth. However, women in Nigeria start businesses at nearly the same rate as men (nine female startups to ten male startups). This puts them at the top of the pack for potential entrepreneur leaders, even if those entrepreneurs face difficulties when it comes to scaling their businesses.
The UK came fifth overall, receiving praise for its business environment and the amount of support and funding available to female-run businesses. However, the research does reference the Burt Report, published in February 2015, which shows that while the necessary infrastructure is there for women entrepreneurs, problems such as unconscious bias and less visibility still hold women back.
In order to support greater entrepreneurship, the report encourages all countries to instigate a gendered public procurement process and to monitor the gender split of entrepreneurs within their region. The research suggests that one thing that could hold female entrepreneurs back is that lucrative government contracts are given to trusted suppliers, rather than new blood. This can lead to a lack of diversity amongst suppliers.