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Women in social enterprises: The challenge of entering and staying in the business

It should be worth noting that the gap between male and female social entrepreneurs is smaller than that of commercial businesses.

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According to a report cited by The Independent, women are more likely to head social enterprises than men. It added that over 90 percent of businesses focusing on addressing social problems have at least one woman at the helm.

On the back of these numbers and findings, some suggest that one should still be wary of using these to stereotype men as less capable of handling social issues because of lacking the warmth and compassion women are said to have.

“This feels a lot like a reincarnation of the tired old stories about women being more likely to be more socially minded than men, stories that have done nothing to help either women or men,” Alexa Roscoe, former private sector advisor of CARE International UK, told The Guardian in 2014, although acknowledging that women should be given an equal shot at becoming social enterprise leaders.

But it seems women are already having a big share in the top ranking positions among social enterprises. In a 2016 Entrepreneur article, a report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor stated that the gap between the population of male and female social entrepreneurs is smaller than that in commercial businesses, with the male at 55 percent and the female at 45 percent.

Jasmine Kubski, the former International Sustainability Projects Manager at Change Agents UK, said in the aforementioned The Guardian article that the fact that women make up the bulk of social entrepreneurs is not a coincidence. She noted that social enterprises may be catering to women’s preference for diversity. “I think this comes down to social enterprise[s] offering things that women, according to research, often consider when looking for a job, including alternative work and governance culture, focus work-life-balance[,] etc.”

But several people feel the need to do more in encouraging women to put up their own businesses and keeping current female social entrepreneurs financially and mentally stable to stay in the industry and even spur growth.

Female social entrepreneur taking charge in a meeting

According to research, women are more likely to receive a smaller capital than men. (Source)

Kubski stated in the above article from The Guardian that women establishing their businesses only have a few bucks for their capital.

Additionally, citing a research study from Harvard Business School Business Administration associate professor Laura Huang and INSEAD assistant professor of strategy Matthew Lee, Forbes reported that women-led businesses are more likely to receive a smaller seed capital than men because of gender bias, among other reasons. Of the 43 venture firms covered in the study, it found that businesses led by females attracted fewer investors than male-led startups.

For Recruit for Spouses founder and CEO Heledd Kendrick, women tend to exit the business because of having low confidence when pitted in competition against men. “Schools should teach women how to be confident in themselves. We should not feel we have to compete in a male environment,” Kendrick said.

Meanwhile, Kubski said that concentrating on developing and improving enterprising skills such as creativity, determination and problem-solving in schools would help women boost their confidence and even inspire them to make an entrepreneurial venture.

In all, this calls for a need to make sure that women are granted access to capital formation without being subjected to gender discrimination and that these social biases are eradicated or at least kept at bay when it comes to financing enterprises that can impact the community the most.

Angelique Moss is a London-based entrepreneur, writer, and traveller. The world of business, finance and investments, is her preferred cup of tea. She also keeps herself updated with the developments in technology, and likes to participate in discussions on health, art and media.

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