Why are More Women Becoming Social Entrepreneurs?

women social entrepreneurs

The ratio of women to men becoming social entrepreneurs is almost 50/50, according to recent data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. According to GEM’s findings, women make up roughly 45% of social entrepreneurs worldwide. This is in stark contrast to the commercial sector, where men entrepreneurs still outnumber women by roughly 2:1.

GEM defines social entrepreneurs as “individuals who are starting or currently leading any kind of activity, organisation or initiative that has a particularly social, environmental or community objective.”

What attracts women to the social sector? 

So, why are women more likely to become social entrepreneurs? Some have speculated that barriers such as access to venture capital and flexible working hours pose more of an issue in the commercial sector. Social enterprises are often perceived as having a more collaborative, lower-risk business model. If true, this could mitigate some of the challenges women face.

That said, the female/male ratio of social entrepreneurs varies according to world region.

The social/commercial divide by region

In the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, women are far more likely to become social entrepreneurs. However, in South East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the number is about even.


As we mentioned in a previous blog post, Ecuador, Colombia and Panama have made year-on-year increases in gender parity among entrepreneurs.

Social entrepreneurs – young and idealistic?

Social entrepreneurs are usually imagined to be young and idealistic. GEM’s findings support this perception to a point, but perhaps not to the extent we would have imagined. The report looked at the ratio of social to commercial entrepreneurs across seven world regions.

In three of the world’s regions (the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Western Europe), 18-34 year olds were more likely to be social entrepreneurs. However, in the remaining four regions (Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, South-East Asia, Australia and the US), young people were more likely to go into the commercial sector.

These findings focused mainly on the differences between entrepreneurs at the nascent (beginning) stage of starting a business.