14 May 2013
10 May 2013
The Belgian Institute for the Equality of Women and Men commissioned JUMP to survey 45.000 professionally active women across Belgium so as to determine current trends in female entrepreneurship.
While Belgium is listed among the top scoring European countries when it comes to entrepreneurship and the ease of doing business, a mere 2,91% of Belgian women have started their own business. Their priorities are vast. For men, growth remains a key business objective, while the driving forces of women are dominated by a need for professional independence, personal fulfilment and work flexibility.
Out of all Belgian female entrepreneurs, only 27% have formal guidance or support when starting up. Most of them rely primarily on their personality, education and professional network to help them get their business off the ground.
The study highlights a worrying perception amongst female entrepreneurs which may help account for their meagre numbers: almost half (44%) of all enterprising women with young children think that starting an own business is not socially accepted.
“The study shows that there is a clear need for support from female entrepreneurs”, says Isabella Lenarduzzi of JUMP. “Female entrepreneurs often feel isolated in their professional ambitions. We need to consider a life-cycle of support systems and tools that guide women through the various stages of starting, running and growing their own businesses.”
Ask female entrepreneurs which measures they would like to see implemented and the answer is clear: initiatives that allow them to keep a healthy balance between their professional ambitions and private lives. The most acute need: equal maternity leave benefits to those received by employees. Flexible childcare and support by other entrepreneurs (so-called “flying entrepreneurs”) in case of illness and more visibility via a network of female “ambassadors”, a web portal and large-scale events also list high amongst their most pressing needs.
“Female entrepreneurs are very energetic individuals who are passionate and committed to their businesses. Often however, they lack the guidance and support that one needs to grow a business successfully. It is now our job as society to provide them with the tools and support to help them make their business ventures successful in the long run,” concludes Lenarduzzi.
The study (in French) can be accessed here.