One of the most striking observations about the status and progress of women business ownership is that it is not always correlated to the wealth and level of development of an economy, reveals the inaugural Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE).
According to the index, Uganda (34.8 percent) and Botswana (34.6 percent) rank first and second in the world for women business owners, with other developing countries such as Russia, Bangladesh, China and Vietnam also in the top 10.
The index found that New Zealand (third) and Australia (fifth) are the developed countries with highest rates of female business owners. While South Africa has made significant progress in creating equal access for women in financial services and tertiary education, the number of women business owners are constrained due to the lack of perceived business opportunities, funding, and motivation.
Women business owners as a % of all business owners – Top 10 markets
South Africa ranks 21st (64.4) on the Index, which tracks female entrepreneurs’ ability to capitalise on opportunities granted through various supporting conditions within their local environments. The index uses three components made up of 12 indicators and 25 sub-indicators to look at how 54 economies, representing 78.6 percent of the world’s female labour force, differ in terms of the level of Women’s Advancement Outcomes, Knowledge Assets & Financial Access, and Supporting Entrepreneurial Factors.
Despite a healthy MIWE score, women account for only 19.1 percent of business owners in South Africa (rank 44), indicating that women’s progress in entrepreneurship has been disappointingly low compared to its global counterparts.
“South Africa’s resourceful women are one of its biggest assets, yet it is evident that South African women’s full potential and value as entrepreneurs and business owners are yet to be unleashed,” says Mark Elliott, Division President, Mastercard South Africa. “We must accelerate our efforts to dismantle the structural obstacles and biases that impede female entrepreneurship so that women can play an enlarged role in South Africa’s economic growth story.”