GEM 2015 Special report – Women’s entrepreneurship

GEM 2015 Women's report

GEM 2015 Women’s report

Year of publication: 2015
Category: Special Topic Reports
Language: English
Upload date: 2015-11-17

You can download the report as PDF at the bottom of the page.

This report offers an in-depth view of women who start and run businesses around the world. It provides a broadly global and comprehensively detailed foundation to guide future research, policy decision-making and the design of initiatives and programs to enhance awareness and participation in women’s entrepreneurship. The report facilitates understanding of women’s entrepreneurship by researchers, policy-makers, educators and practitioners. The ultimate aim is to foster an environment that: encourages women to see entrepreneurship as a viable career option; equips them with the tools to create the type and quality of business each wishes to build; and creates awareness among stakeholders who will support their efforts.

Key Findings

Motivated Women

  • U.S. women entrepreneurs demonstrate among the highest rates of activity (11 percent) in the developed world.

Entrepreneurship Activity

  • Among 61 economies (out of 83) featured in this report and also in the previous report based on 2012 data, overall TEA rates have increased by 7 percent since 2012, and the gender gap (ratio of women to men participating in entrepreneurship) has narrowed by 6 percent.
    • TEA rates and gender gap ratios saw substantial positive upward movement in three regions: factor and efficiency-driven Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and innovation-driven Europe.
  • The 83 economies examined in this report show substantial differences in women’s TEA rates, ranging from a high of 41 percent in Nigeria and Zambia to a low of 2 percent in Suriname and Japan.
    • In 10 economies, women are as likely as men, or more likely than men, to be entrepreneurs: El Salvador and Brazil in Latin America and the Caribbean; Viet Nam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines in Southeast Asia; and Zambia, Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana in Africa.
    • Africa’s high female TEA rates are fuelled by a high proportion of women who intend to start in the near future.
  • The difference between TEA and established business rates is minimal for innovation-driven economies, while factor- and efficiency-driven economies show half the level of established business activity relative to TEA.
    • This suggests greater demand for entrepreneurship in developing economies than in developed economies, with comparatively fewer enterprises making it to the mature stage.
    • Innovation-driven economies exhibit less demand for entrepreneurship, but those who start are more likely to start sustainable businesses, and/or the environment enables this sustainability.

Entrepreneur Characteristics

  • Factor- and efficiency-driven regions trend toward younger entrepreneurs, with the 25-34 age groups having the highest rates.
    • This is also the case in North America. The GEM 2014 United States report showed increased activity among young women with a 17 percent TEA rate among 25-34 year olds.
    • The remaining innovation-driven regions show the highest entrepreneurship rates among 35-44 year-olds.
  • The gender gap in the percentage of entrepreneurs with opportunity motivations is relatively low in every region.
    • In the innovation-driven Middle East economies, women are proportionately more likely to have opportunity motives, but the TEA gender gap suggests that few start relative to men and rarely out of necessity.
  • GEM findings suggest thateconomies with a higher percentage of women entrepreneurs starting in teams of three or more also have a greater proportion of those with job creation ambitions.
    • The highest prevalence of women entrepreneurs operating in teams was in the innovation-driven Middle East (27 percent) and innovation-driven Asia and Oceania (24 percent) regions.


  • High female TEA rates in an economy are associated with the likelihood women in society know an entrepreneur.
    • Affiliations with entrepreneurs can offer role models, advice, contacts, and support, which may explain why economies with many women who know entrepreneurs are also likely to have high female startup rates.
    • Many European economies exhibit an interesting finding, reporting low female entrepreneurship rates but many women in society who know entrepreneurs.
  • Female TEA rates are also high where women hold strong perceptions about the presence of opportunities for starting a business.
    • The gender difference for this indicator is relatively narrow (40 percent for women versus 45 percent for men), and in a number of factor- and efficiency-driven economies, women are slightly more likely than men to perceive good business opportunities.
    • Europe, Israel, and the United States saw increased female opportunity perceptions, but with less change to the gender ratio.
  • This report shows a strong positive association between capability perceptions and TEA rates among women.
    • The findings also reveal a noticeable gender gap in this indicator (46 percent for women versus 59 percent for men).


  • Women entrepreneurs in nearly half of the economies in the GEM sample report equal or higher innovation levels than men entrepreneurs
    • In almost three-quarters of the economies in efficiency-driven Europe, female entrepreneurs report higher levels of innovation than male entrepreneurs.
    • In Chile and India, more than half of women entrepreneurs believe they offer innovative products or services.
  • More than two-thirds of women entrepreneurs operate in the consumer-oriented sector, with around three-fourths of women entrepreneurs competing in these types of businesses in Africa, in factor- and efficiency-driven Asia, and in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Among innovation-driven economies, North America and Europe exhibit a high prevalence (over one-fourth) of women entrepreneurs in the knowledge-intensive business services sector.
  • Analyses of TEA rates with gender gap indicators measured by WEF, shows that the rate of female entrepreneurship activity increases significantly with greater parity in economic participation. This indicates that the more women participate in the economy relative to men, the more likely they are to be entrepreneurs.