Financing women’s enterprise: challenges and opportunities Professor Susan Marlow De Montfort University Leicester UK firstname.lastname@example.org
Setting the scene – the influence of gender • Gender – socially constructed concept which shapes our understanding of masculinity and femininity • Characteristics associated with women are usually coded negatively • Stereotypes inform our expectations and presumptions
The Challenges: Gender and self employment • Normative notions of entrepreneurship • Fewer women enter self employment (approximately 14 % firm owners; 28 % self employed) • Sector differences (lower order services) • Location preferences (home based) • Operational preferences (30 % part time) • Business expectations (life style/flexibility)
Gender, self employment and finance • Under capitalisation at start up and growth – women use about one third as much of the financial capital as their male counterparts • This promotes underperformance for the life of the business • This does not signify female incompetence Note Watson (2002)
Supply of finance • Debt Finance – bank loans, over drafts • Equity finance – Venture capital, business angels • Soft loans and government grants • Informal finance – Personal savings plus the three ‘F’s’ – family, friends and fools
Gender related challenges in accessing funding • Debt funding – no evidence for a supply gap – need to focus on demand and credibility • Equity – women are invisible in the debate – women gain approximately 2% of VC funding in the US for example • Soft loans/grants – problem of disaggregated data • Informal funding – lower levels of savings and credibility
Overcoming the problems • The broader debate – gender in a socio-economic context • Support examples from member states: • Prowess (UK) • Women network (Austria) broader funding • Finnvera oyj (Finland) start up loans • Local savings Club (France)
Funding support cont’d • DtA Start up finance (Germany) • Federal Programmes; for example, Investitionsbank Schleswig-Holstein (Germany) • Sector focused; for example, Hellenic Organisation of SME and Handicrafts (Greece) • Soft loans; Women’s Loan Guarantee Fund (Iceland)
Funding priorities • Focus is on start up funding, micro enterprises, support and advice • Considerable attention on deprivation, social exclusion, social problems • Few policy initiatives or promotions aimed at business growth or ‘investment readiness for women’ • Example, ‘Mustard.com’ (UK), ‘Springboard’ (USA).
Final Remarks • Women’s role in enterprise reflects that in broader society • There are specific gender related challenges regarding business ownership and growth • Dedicated funding support is essential; the evidence suggests that there are a multitude of schemes in evidence • Problems – counting female enterprises, failure and closure, growth and consolidation.