Which Countries Have the Most Female Entrepreneurs?

female entrepreneurs

Senegal has the highest number of female entrepreneurs, according to statistics from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. 37% of working-age women in Senegal run their own businesses, according to statistics from the GEM’s 2015 report. The percentage of male entrepreneurs is 40%.

Vietnam currently has the highest ratio of female-to-male entrepreneurs – Vietnamese women are 33% more likely to be entrepreneurs than men.

Why do certain countries have more female entrepreneurs?

According to the 2015 report, women are still less likely than men to engage in entrepreneurial activity. However, this is not always the case, in countries with a lower GNI per capita. This is largely due to necessity: women in countries such as Senegal and Vietnam are more likely to be looking for ways to supplement their household income, than those in the Netherlands.

Overall, the report found that although women in factor-driven economies were more likely to become entrepreneurs, they were still far less likely than men to cite “opportunity” as their reason for engaging in business. By contrast, although women in efficiency and innovation-lead economies were less likely to become entrepreneurs, when they did, they were more likely to do so for opportunity-lead reasons.

female entrepreneurs

Graph taken from GEM data.

Morocco, Bulgaria, Italy and Malaysia had the lowest number of female entrepreneurs, with less than 3% of working-age women engaging in entrepreneurship. In Morocco and Italy, men are twice as likely to become entrepreneurs, as women. In Malaysia and Bulgaria, entrepreneurial activity is low for both genders. In Malaysia, men are even less likely to start their own business than women. Malaysian men and women are both as likely to start their own business out of necessity.

Luxembourg, Greece, Ecuador, Colombia and Panama have all showed year-on-year increases in gender parity among entrepreneurial rates and motivations.

Opportunity vs necessity 

In general, the main divide between female and male entrepreneurship in economies across the globe is one of opportunity. Women in factor-driven economies may be more likely to start a business than those in efficiency or innovation-lead economies, but they are still less likely to start a business for reasons other than necessity. In economies where entrepreneurism is less necessity-driven overall, women are less likely to start a business at all. This suggests that whilst women worldwide are capable of starting businesses when they perceive no other option, they are not enough opportunities to motivate non-necessity driven entrepreneurship. In their report, GEM recommended that policy makers “design specific interventions to encourage females to enter the world of entrepreneurship”.

This lack in perceived opportunities could be due to women’s increased difficulty in accessing venture capital than men, some have speculated.

This may indicate why some women are choosing to pursue social entrepreneurship, where collaboration and alternative funding sources are opening up greater opportunities than the commercial sector.