Call me cynical, unpatriotic if you must, but I can count the number of times I’ve wanted to shout “Amurica, Boo-yah!” on one hand. (I prefer to think of it as having high standards). Yet Dell’s new index of global, women-led entrepreneurship has inspired in me one of those rare moments of American complacency, er, pride.
Called the “Gender-GEDI,” Dell’s survey used 30 indicators to rank 17 countries based on aggregate levels of high-potential female entrepreneurship. Sadly, Dell says its survey is the first-ever to look specifically at the world’s women-run businesses. The United States, with 8.6 million women-led firms generating more than $1.3 trillion in revenue and employing nearly 8 million people, came out on top. Other countries surveyed include Australia (no. 2), Germany (no. 3), France (4), Mexico (5), Japan (12), Morocco (13), Brazil (14), Egypt (15), and Uganda (17). (Forbes has a great overview of the study; head to Dell for the whole thing).
A press release accompanying the survey identifies knowledge, networks, capital, and technology as vital to “empower[ing] female entrepreneurship and creat[ing] a culture of success” in a given country. While top-scoring nations performed well across these and other categories, the United States gained its lead by besting them all when it came to institutional foundations and overall entrepreneurial environment.
The study leaves unmeasured one looming elephant in the room, that is, how receptive a populace is to an educated and/or business-savvy woman. Yet the influence of said cultural elephant on other factors conducive to women entrepreneurs is discernable amid the data.
For example, a key finding of the survey is that economic development alone is not enough to ensure business opportunity for women. In Japan, legal rights, education, and access to capital exist for women, yet only nine percent hold managerial positions, leaving them without the experience and skills to start their own companies. A second finding shows that though less-educated women in developing countries are seizing entrepreneurial opportunities, they lack access to the degrees required to expand their businesses beyond the micro level.
Deliciously ironic and triumphant is Dell’s stat that
technology has been an essential component in the growth of women
entrepreneurs, completely debunking screams from the “Ladies aren’t interested
in and don’t understand tech” haters. (Haters, they gonna hate.) The Internet, especially, has made it cheaper
than ever to start a business, network across nations, and bypass the fight for
traction within a pre-established corporate environment. The fact that
women-owned firms in the United States grew 59 percent between 1997 and 2013, as noted in the article, perhaps reflects this. Yes, the Web, regrettably, is the home of 4chan. On the
other hand, if it’s helping women entrepreneurs mitigate cultural barriers, I’m
prepared to take the bitter with the better.