Women make up just 20.1% of all of Ireland’s entrepreneurs, a study by Mastercard has found. The findings show that while Ireland has the right conditions for female-owned businesses to thrive, women in Ireland’s motivation to start and run a business is low: only 10% want to do so in the next three years.
The study showed that a lack of self-belief can be especially potent in deterring women from starting their own businesses. This may explain why although Ireland scores highly for having the right conditions for businesses to thrive (10th), the number of women-owned businesses is low.
Ireland placed 25th on Mastercard’s Index of Women Entrepreneurs, which tracks the progress and achievement of women entrepreneurs and business owners across 57 markets spanning five geographic regions – Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and North America.
“Women entrepreneurs have made remarkable strides as business owners around the world, however, we cannot ignore the deeply entrenched gender bias continuing to hamper their progress. The Index serves as an informative mouthpiece to inspire changes at the economic, political and social levels, and empower women to run successful businesses and lead richer, more fulfilling lives,” said Martina Hund-Mejean, Chief Financial Officer, Mastercard.
Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs – Top 10 markets with the strongest supporting conditions and opportunities for women to thrive as entrepreneurs
- New Zealand – 74.2
- Sweden – 71.3
- Canada – 70.9
- United States – 70.8
- Singapore – 69.2
- Portugal – 69.1
- Australia – 68.9
- Belgium – 68.7
- Philippines – 68.0
- United Kingdom – 67.9
- Ireland – 63.7 (up 2 places on 2017)
Overall, the Index suggests that women entrepreneurs appear to thrive better in more developed economies, as shown in the Index’s top three markets, New Zealand (74.2 points, 1st), Sweden (71.3, 2nd) and Canada (70.9, 3rd). Compared to their peers in emerging markets, women business owners in developed ones were able to draw from a greater pool of enabling resources and opportunities, including access to capital, financial services and academic programs.
However, the Index indicates two key exceptions to this trend. For instance, developed markets with strong conditions for businesses to thrive are not immune to cultural bias against female entrepreneurship. Japan tracked the largest decline in scores on the Index (55.4 to 51.1, 46th), dragged down by a significant decline in activity rates for women entrepreneurs (-30.9). Findings suggest that this decline could be attributed to prevailing discourse, which perceives women as inferior to men in both social and corporate settings.
More encouragingly, Mastercard’s research also suggests that the opportunity for entrepreneurship is not necessarily aligned to the pace of a market’s economic development. Emerging economies such as Ghana (46.4 percent) – one of the Index’s three newly added markets along with Malawi and Nigeria – Uganda (33.8 percent) and Vietnam (31.3 percent) were found to have higher women business ownership rates, compared to more developed ones. Women in these markets are deemed as necessity-driven entrepreneurs, spurred by a need for survival despite their lack of financial capital and access to enabling services.
Women business owners as a percentage of all business owners – Top 10 markets
- Ghana – 46.4%
- Russia – 34.6%
- Uganda – 33.8%
- New Zealand – 33.0%
- Australia – 32.1%
- Vietnam – 31.3%
- Poland – 30.3%
- Spain – 29.4%
- Romania -28.9%
- Portugal – 28.7%
- Ireland – 20.1%
“Across these 57 economies, gender bias constraints continue to slow the progress of women as business owners. Ahead of International Women’s Day, we hope the study’s findings can serve as a timely reminder for governments and organizations to bolster support provided to budding and working women business owners across all areas, from greater financial inclusion and wider access to education,” said Ann Cairns, President, International Markets, Mastercard.