A chronological listing of the news items that appeared on Womenable.com from July through December 2011.
Finally - a new GEM report on women!: A new report on trends in women's entrepreneurship, drawing on the multi-country Global Entrepreneurship Monitor surveys, has just been published by a team of researchers from Babson College. The GEM 2010 Women's Report draws on data collected from surveys of over 175,000 adults in 59 countries, including 14,000 women business owners.
As in previous GEM women's reports, the researchers point to a continuing gap in entrepreneurial activity among women compared to men, lower levels of self-confidence among women, and lower levels of growth aspirations among women business owners compared to their male counterparts.
The 59 economies are grouped into three categories (newly-named as of the 2008 GEM study and roughly equivalent to the previous low, moderate, and high income definitions): factor-driven, efficiency-driven, and innovation-driven. However, these categorizations do not seem to impact the gender analysis on many of the key findings:
women are found to have smaller, less diverse professional networks than men,
in all but one country (Ghana!), women are less likely than men to own businesses, and
while internationalization increases with economic development, in all three types of economies women are less likely to trade internationally than men.
One intriguing new analysis contained in this report is a look at entrepreneurship gender gaps over time in the 16 countries that have been included in the GEM consortium for most of the past nine years. It was found that the gender gaps in entrepreneurship rates that had been quite wide in Argentina and Brazil as of 2002 have now virtually disappeared, while - conversely - in China where there had previously been no gender gap in entrepreneurship rates there is now a significant gap, with women now being much less likely than men to own a business.
For more information about the report, and to download a free copy of the 56-page report, CLICK HERE, and for a listing of all five GEM women's reports published since 2004, CLICK HERE. (December 2011)
Small firms working harder for federal procurement opportunities: A new survey conducted among small business owners who are active federal government contractors finds that their investment of time and money seeking contracting opportunities has increased by 21% over the past year, as federal contract spending has declined 12%.
The survey was conducted online in October 2011 among small business owners who are registered on the Central Contractor Registry (CCR) and are either currently performing on a federal contract (prime or subcontractor) or who have done so within the past five years.
Other findings from this first of four reports drawn from the survey include:
On average, active contractors invested $103,827 in time and money last year seeking federal contracts, up from $86,124 in 2009;
Larger firms invest more seeking contracting opportunities, but so do firms owned by persons of color. Women invest somewhat less time and money seeking federal contracting opportunities than do their male counterparts;
On average, small firms submitted an average of 4.4 bids before they won their very first federal contract - the lesson being, if at first you don't succeed, try, try, and try again;
Over the long term, experience pays off. Average bidding success rates - 38% overall - are significantly higher among firms with 10+ years of contracting experience compared to those firms with three years or less contracting experience.
The other three reports will focus on special trends among women and minority business owners, how strategies and outcomes change with level of procurement experience, and what lessons can be learned from firms that focus on subcontracting as a procurement strategy.
New World Bank World Development Report focuses on gender equality: Every year, the international development community looks forward to the publication of the World Bank's annual World Development Reports - weighty compendia of facts and trends important to those working around the globe to improve the status of health, education, human welfare, and public policy.
This year's WDR is of special interest to we womenablers, as it's focused on gender and development. The report, Gender Equality and Development, runs 458 pages and 25 megabytes, is available in 7 languages, and - for the first time - is also available as an iPad app!
Key sections of the report focus on a stock-taking of the state of gender equality in developing economies, what factors drive or impede progress toward greater equality, and the role of public policy in gender equality.
Click on the following links to find out more about:
It's destined for a place on every womenabler's reference shelf (along with the other reports listed in the Womenable Reference Library), so download it and save it today! (December 2011)
Small firms say 'Steady as she goes!': Recently, Womenable analyzed a decade's worth of biannual small business surveys, taking a look at the hiring outlook of small business owners (firms with between 1 and 100 employees) for American Express OPEN's Small Business Monitor series.
Interestingly, as the winds of economic fate have buffeted the economy over the past ten years, most small businesses say "steady as she goes" - with far more firms planning to hire new employees over the next 6 months compared to those planning on cutting back in each of the 19 surveys conducted since the fall of 2002. Of course, for the most part, the majority of firms surveyed plan to keep their employment - whatever it is - steady, with between one-third to one-half looking to change employment levels at any given time.
The analysis shows no gender differences over time in likelihood of hiring or trimming staff. The major determinant of hiring among small firms appear to be size: small firms with 20 or more employees as well as those with at least $500,000 in revenue are consistently more likely to be growth-oriented than are the owners of smaller firms.
2011 Global Gender Gap Report published: It happens this year about this same time. Womenablers worldwide anticipate the release of the Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum. It's here, and this year the findings are much the same - no change at all in the ten countries that are ranked most highly on equality between women and men in health, education, economic participation and political empowerment:
The bottom five are unchanged as well: Yemen, Chad, Pakistan, Mali, and Saudi Arabia.
What's been learned over this six-year period? For starters, while health and education gender gaps have been addressed in many countries, economic participation and political empowerment lag much farther behind. Overall, however, the World Economic Forum has found that 85% of countries have made progress in addressing these gaps since 2006.
Also, you may wish to read some of the news coverage that's been generated thus far, such as these stories from the BBC, Reuters (video story), the Huffington Post, and bigthink.com, at which study co-author Saadia Zahidi puts the report findings into context. Other social media commentary can be read on Storify. (November 2011)
Ruby - a gem of a women's enterprise program: I'm just back from Oz, where I joined the board of a wonderful organization - the Global Banking Alliance for Women. Their annual summit, which brought together nearly 100 executives from financial institutions and financial inclusion NGOs from (by my count) 18 countries, was hosted this year in Sydney, Australia by one of the four founding members of the GBA, Westpac Bank. More about the GBA in another blogpost, but I'd like to focus in this post on what I feel is the leading corporate program for women entrepreneurs anywhere in the world: Westpac's Ruby Connection.
As those of us in the world of women's enterprise development know, many corporations enter into the "women's market" by "painting their program pink," meaning that they dress up an existing market-focused program and slap a "we understand women" label on it. Those programs either fail - because women business owners can see through them pretty easily - or swiftly morph into something more. If they are lucky, they will take on aspects of the Ruby Connection model. Though I've been aware of this effort for some time (it was launched back in 2008), it was only after hearing the story of the program's founding and growth do I now feel certain that ...
Making the case for investing in women's enterprise development in the UK: It's party convention time in the United Kingdom, and a Women's Enterprise Policy Group - formed recently in the wake of organisational implosions and budget cuts - is planting a flag in the ground with the issuance of a briefing paper calling investing in women's enterprise a "multi-billion £ opportunity" and stating that women's enterprise development could be a "secret weapon" to boost the country's economy.
Learn more about the Women's Enterprise Policy Group and download the briefing paper HERE.
The WEPG was launched this past summer at a strategy session hosted by the Royal Bank of Scotland. At that strategy session, Womenable presented thoughts on the ebb and flow of women's enterprise development support on this side of the pond, including lessons learned for building/rebuilding a movement. For those of you womenablers who are interested, click HERE for a Womenabler blogpost on the subject, including an annotated SlideShare presentation. (October 2011)
New IFC report on women in business: The latest in a nice line-up of publications focused on women 's entrepreneurship is now available from the International Finance Corporation's Women in Business team. Women in Business: Telling Our Story summarizes IFC activities and other efforts globally to support women's business empowerment. The report is available as an e-publication or can be downloaded as a PDF file.
Corporations engaging women as suppliers: Time was, corporations parked their womenabling efforts in their corporate social responsibility silos. Now, corporations are far more likely to view women-owned firms as important customers and suppliers than a population in need of charity.
We can date US corporate interest in women business owners as a market back to 1995, when the Center for Women's Business Research's seminal report, "Breaking the Boundaries," was published. That report, based on an analysis of the entire Dun & Bradstreet database, showed that women-owned firms were just as financially stable and creditworthy as the average US firm. The report's release resulted in a virtual stampede toward women-owned firms by US banks.
Now, a number of global corporations are taking a market development approach to supporting women's entrepreneurship - readying them to be more valuable links in their supply chains.
They join several other corporate giants in firmly planting a flag in the field of women as agents of economic change, rather than recipients of charity. Here are just a few:
Coke's initiative, 5 by 20, aims to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs by the year 2020, by adding them to their retail vendor sales force. They plan to announce other elements of the program soon, as well as the paths by which they will achieve their goal. Let's hope it includes women's business association capacity-building!
Not to be outdone, Coke's rival Pepsi has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with USAID and the UN's World Food Programme to invest in chickpea production in Ethiopia. The project, called Enterprise EthioPEA, aims to double chickpea production in the country and improve childhood nutrition. The majority of the country's - and the world's - farmers are women.
Clothing company Gap, Inc. was recently recognized for their innovative PACE program (which stands for Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement), which has worked since 2007 in 6 Asian countries to improve the education and business skills of its garment workers.
Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women initiative, a 5-year effort launched in 2008, has the aim of increasing the number of business school-educated women in developing economies, pairing them up with corporate mentors in developed economies and partnering with universities and other non-governmental organizations. To date it is active in 22 countries, and is partnering with 75 groups to reach their goal.
These efforts all bode well for WEConnect International, a relatively new NGO that has formed to make the link between women business owners who wish to do business with large corporations and the corporations that are seeking out ways to engage women's business enterprises in their value chains. WEConnect's model is based upon that of the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) in the US. check out this brief video featuring WEConnect President Elizabeth Vazquez talking about the impact of including more women-owned firms in global corporate value chains:
So here's to women as contributors of economic value! Are there any other big corporate "women in the value chain" efforts that you know of? Let us know! (October 2011)
AWBC surveys women's business center leaders: Funding for women's business centers in the US has been under scrutiny recently, as budget-cutters turn over every rock to look for programs to trim to reduce the budget deficit in Washington. To counter the misperception that women's business centers are duplicative of other federally-funded entrepreneurship education programs - and to provide metrics on client outcomes and impact - the Association of Women's Business Centers (with Womenable's help) recently conducted a survey among the country's 110 women's business centers. Here's what the survey found:
WBC services are under-measured: In fiscal year 2010, WBCs trained, counseled, mentored or otherwise served nearly 200,000 clients, averaging just over 1,800 clients per center. This figure is fully 24% higher than SBA statistics, because the SBA's management information system does not fully capture the breadth of WBC support;
WBCs are efficient and cost effective: the survey finds that WBCs operate with an average of 4 full-time and 2 part-time staff, and leverage a ratio of 5 volunteer teachers, trainers and mentors per 1 staff member; and
WBCs are making an impact: In FY2010, WBCs helped to launch 13,301 new businesses, helped to create an estimated 36,578 new jobs from new and existing firms, and supported firms that contributed a collective $1.3 billion to the US Economy.
A three-page summary of the survey findings is available for free by clicking this link. (September 2011)
Viewing change: If a picture is worth a thousand words, then videos must be worth 10,000 or maybe 100,000 words. Well, ViewChange.org is home to over 400 videos, each of which tells a story worth watching, many of them focused on issues impacting women in developing economies. The site has been created by LinkTV with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In particular, their Gender section is worth a look, as is this 50 minute video documentary about four women in Zambia who are embarking on an intensive business skills training program that will allow them to start their own businesses.
They even have an iPhone/iPad app so you can View Change on the go. (August 2011)
A focus on frameworks: You wouldn't build a house without a blueprint, would you, so why are so many efforts to provide greater economic empowerment for women undertaken without a strategic framework? A rhetorical question, we know, but we'd like to call attention to the fact that folks are starting to realize that a framework for action can make governments and other actors more accountable, provide benchmarks and targets against which to chart progress, and give the women's business community and other important stakeholders a soapbox for advocacy.
We write this because we've come across several new strategic framework reports we want to make sure all of you womenablers out there take a look at, bookmark, and file away for future reference and/or action.
The UN agency in the Asia Pacific region, ESCAP, has also recently published a report looking at efforts that could be undertaken in that region to "strengthen national mechanisms" for gender equality and the empowerment of women. Learn more at THIS LINK. Sounds like a framework to us!
Next, there's a new mid-term assessment of where things stand vis-a-vis MDG3, the Millennium Development Goal related to women's empowerment. This AWID review of the Dutch MDG3 Fund shows the ways in which targeted investments can really make a difference in organizational capacity and women's increased participation in advocacy and the political process, which has a ripple effect in other areas of women's economic empowerment.
And, finally, we would be remiss if we did not mention and remind you of the Roadmap to 2020 report, spearheaded and published by Quantum Leaps in 2010, which focused on what women's entrepreneurship stakeholders in the United States should do to move the agenda forward. It joins the October 2003 Prime Minister's Task Force report in Canada and the May 2003 Strategic Framework report in the United Kingdom as a trilogy of policy and program recommendations to be undertaken in a developed economy context (which, truth be told, is not terribly different from areas of focus in developing economies). (August 2011)
Slip slidin' away?: Women have fallen back a few rungs on the corporate ladder, according to the 2011 Grant Thornton International Business Report. The report finds that women hold 20% of senior management positions globally, down from 24% in 2009 and about equal to the level seen in 2004 (19%). In addition, just 8% of these companies have a female CEO.
So where are women doing best in their climb up the corporate ladder? Perhaps not where you'd expect. The G7 economies lag the global average with just 16% of women holding senior roles, while the share is actually highest in Asia, with 27% on average (this excludes Japan, which at 8% is at the bottom of the global list).
On a country by country basis, the share of women in senior management is highest in Thailand (45%), followed by the Republic of Georgia (40%), Russia (36%), Hong Kong (35%), the Philippines (35%) and mainland China (34%). To learn more about this study, visit this web link. (August 2011)
Happy International Youth Day!: Did you know that today is International Youth Day? Neither did I until yesterday, but the day is fast approaching when the young women and men of Generation Y will move into positions of responsibility and start to put their imprint on the world.
So, in recognition that this day is coming soon, why not listen to the voices of the next generation of world leaders now to see what they have to say? Here are some places to start: CLICK HERE to read on. (August 12 2011)
Small firms not looking on the bright side these days: Small business owners usually look on the bright side, and are eternally optimistic. Not so much recently, however, according to the results of an analysis of a decade's worth of data from the American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor survey.
This analysis, performed for American Express by Womenable, takes a look at a single, telling question, which asks small firm owners (those with between 1 and 99 employees) to think about the next six months and agree with one of these four statements:
Over the next six months, I see the economy improving and expanding opportunities for my business
Over the next six months, I expect my business to grow regardless of the economic climate
Over the next six months, I expect the negative climate to negatively affect my business
Over the next six months, my company risks going out of business because of the economic climate
The results of the two positive and negative statements are combined and compared to form a "net optimism score."
The analysis reveals, among other things, that there's been no significant difference between women and men business owners with respect to optimism.
Gender equality not for women only: Gender equality is as much for men and boys as it is for women and girl, but it can sometimes be hard to engage men and boys in the conversation, and widen our perceptual lens. A new report from the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) aims to help. The report, "Engaging Men and Boys in Gender Equality," offers up four case studies from Bangladesh, Philippines, Cambodia and Uganda, which explain the ways in which the gender equality discussion can be broadened.
Click HERE for more information and HERE to download the report.
This report joins several other worthy publications focused on gender equality issues, including the links between microfinance, women's empowerment and their health, gender-based violence, and UNFPA's Strategic Framework for Gender Mainstreaming and Women's Empowerment 2008-2011. See the UNFPA Gender Equality page for a listing of other reports. (August 2011)
Essay contest to commemorate Ms. Magazine 40th anniversary: Calling all womenabling essayists! Ms. Magazine will be celebrating its 40th anniversary next year, and to kick off the celebration, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research and Stanford University's American Studies and Feminist Studies programs are sponsoring an essay contest.
So ponder, if you will, how women's entrepreneurship has progressed over the past 40 years, and submit a 150-word essay between now and the October 15 deadline. Click here for additional information. (August 2011)
UNESCO prizes for literacy, peace, and gender equality: Speaking of essay writing, the first step in writing is basic literacy - and we know how strong a link there is between literacy for women, their personal empowerment, and their economic empowerment. UNESCO realizes this as well, and has announced the six winners of the 2011 International Literacy Prizes.
The theme this year is literacy and peace, with special consideration to gender and equality (hence our mention of it here).
Prizewinners include organizations in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, and the United States. Read more about the award, the prizewinning organizations, and the upcoming awards ceremony in September HERE. (August 2011)
Weeks joins GBA board: Womenable President and CEO Julie R. Weeks has joined the board of directors of the Global Banking Alliance for Women, a 10 year-old membership organization of institutions committed to the growth of women in business and womenís wealth creation worldwide. Members of the GBA number 21 financial and women's entrepreneurial leadership institutions from around the world, in both developed and developing economies, who share a commitment to share best practices to spur growth and accelerate the development of women in business ownership.
Learn more about the GBA at the link above, which includes pages devoted to:
Information on the upcoming GBA Summit in Sydney, Australia in October.
Oxfam supporting women farmers: Did you know that women provide 60 to 80 percent of the food for populations in developing countries, yet own only 2 percent of the land? Climate change, lack of equity for access to financial services, access to tools to increase production and yield, and the lack of a voice in decision-making are all hindrances to women in the agricultural sector in the developing world, but Oxfam is aiming to change that.
Long an organization focused on alleviating hunger, they're now paying more attention to the economic empowerment of women in agriculture.
They've launched a GROW campaign to draw attention to the issue of sustainable agriculture and food supply and value chain issues.
They've also just instituted an award recognizing the contribution of women in farming. The Food Heroine of the Year award was launched recently in Tanzania.
They've also assembled a quick and easy fact sheet highlighting some of the statistics and political issues surrounding women and sustainable agricultural development. CLICK HERE to download and read the fact sheet. (July 2011)
Ruminations on the women's business movement: Summertime is normally a slower time, with days spent at the beach, in the mountains, or in other restful venues. However, for Womenable, things are only getting busier.
"Iíve been traveling lately, participating in a panel on the value of mentors and role models for would-be women business owners, presenting a paper on what gets missed when business enabling environment assessments donít include gender, speaking at the We Own It Summit in London ñ and meeting with a group of womenís business advocates in the UK about moving forward with new efforts in moving womenís enterprise development forward there in the wake of organizational and governmental change."