Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality

Women and Startups

– What it Means for Women to Start a Business

December 1, 2022

Participants (Regularly Updated)

(image 1) Women and Startups
  • OKAJIMA Etsuko May, President & CEO, ProNova Inc. (Moderator)
  • Aissata LAM, Director General of the Investment Promotion Agency of Mauritania
  • Kathy MATSUI, General Partner, MPower Partners
  • SAMATA Anri, General Partner & Co-Founder, ANRI
  • SUGAWARA Atsuko, Manager at the Sapporo Gender Equality Center
  • FUKUDA Eri, Representative Director/ CEO/ CCO of SHE Co., Ltd. (Rapporteur)

Current situation and challenges to be discussed

One of the driving forces for growth in times of uncertainty is entrepreneurship. Every year, more and more women are starting their own businesses, and it is said that one out of every three entrepreneurs in the world is a woman. However, most of the entrepreneurship by women is in small businesses, mainly in the retail and service sectors, and women are rarely seen in larger industries such as construction and energy. Many structural or cultural barriers exist in the background.

For example, women's access to capital and know-how is relatively limited. In addition, there is a sociocultural lack of understanding about women's entrepreneurship, which makes it difficult for them to build networks of connection and access information about business opportunities and industries(note1).

Entrepreneurship is one of the working style options for women's economic activities that enables them to turn their own interests into a profession and balance work and life events such as marriage and childbirth, as they can make their own decisions. It is also a way for women to achieve professional self-fulfillment and economic independence, leading to the revitalization of the economy(note2). With population outflow from rural areas to cities becoming a challenge in many countries, women's entrepreneurship may become a possible solution.

For more information on the current situation and challenges concerning women and startups, please refer to the following page (PDF) Open a New Window.

Discussion Topics

  • What are the biggest challenges for women’s entrepreneurship? What are the factors that could help women start a business?
  • What are the particular challenges that women face, especially in securing financing for their businesses? What measures are being adopted in other countries to solve these challenges?
  • What are some good practices or challenges for women to start businesses in high-margin industries, including information and communication technology (ICT)?
  • Are there any examples of incentives for women entrepreneurs who contribute to the revitalization of rural areas? What are the effects of such incentives?
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