Australia is the second best place in the world to be a female entrepreneur, with only the United States ranking higher in the first ever index of female entrepreneurship.
The Gender-GEDI Female Entrepreneurship Index launched by Dell at its Women’s Entrepreneur Network Conference in Turkey ranks Australia second out of 17 countries.
The index found there was no single determinant to entrepreneurial success, with the best performing countries demonstrating success across wide variety of categories.
Being strong in key areas such as legal rights, education and access to finance did not automatically result in high-potential female entrepreneurship.
In some countries, the business environment for success was right, but female entrepreneurship is still low.
This is often due to social and cultural norms that make it less conducive for women to become entrepreneurs, like in Japan, where only 9% of managers are female, leaving many women without the experience and skills to start their own businesses.
The index ranked Australia among the highest in financial literacy, which was a prerequisite for an effective entrepreneurial culture.
High levels of education and a belief that women are as good as men when it comes to executive roles also assisted Australia to its second place position.
The index highlighted technology is an essential component for fostering high-potential female entrepreneurship.
“Technology has also made it cheaper than ever to start a business and removes many of the social and physical barriers women must overcome to start their own businesses and connect with the resources they need,” the index found.
“Entrepreneurs need scalable technology solutions that enable them to accelerate the growth of their business to succeed.”
But with an index score of 70 out of 100 there is still room for improvement in Australia.
“Unleashing the power of female entrepreneurship can have a dramatic effect on a country’s economy,” Karen Quintos, senior vice president at Dell, said in a statement.
“Increased access to knowledge, networks, capital and technology are critical if countries are to empower female entrepreneurship and create a culture of success.”
The index found access to finance is crucial for female entrepreneurship, with few women having bank accounts in low performing countries like Egypt and Uganda.
However, even in countries like the US and Australia where almost 100% of women have access to a bank account, venture capital funding is still low.
Springboard Australia’s chair, Wendy Simpson, is attending the conference in Turkey and told SmartCompany the US and Australia are both trying to educate the female component of the investment community to skill women investors
“We are just starting now to create a mindset in Australia, it is not just about the infrastructure you also need the mindset of women entrepreneurs.”
But Emma Isaacs, chief executive of the female business group Business Chicks, says she is not surprised at Australia’s high ranking in the index.
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“While we’re not hitting all milestones and there’s certainly still ground to be covered, Australia can provide an excellent environment for female entrepreneurs,” she says.
“The saying ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’ rings true, and more and more we’re seeing higher visibility of Australian female entrepreneurs being featured in the media, providing learning and inspiration for the up and coming.”
Isaacs says Australian women are starting small businesses at twice the rate of men, which is encouraging, as are the index results.
“Now we just need to work out how to have women grow their businesses as substantially as their male counterparts.”
Top ten ranking countries:
7. South Africa