Rise of Female Founders

The real 21st Century is just beginning for female entrepreneurs.

We’ve started walking the extra mile towards bringing diversity into the entrepreneurial landscape, and while change is never easy, progress has been made. Just a century ago, men dominated the world of business. Today eight of the 50 richest people on Earth are women, according to Forbes. Over the last two years, the number of female entrepreneurs has grown more rapidly than their male counterparts, and the gender gap has narrowed to an all-time low of less than 2%. Over the past two decades, the number of women entrepreneurs has more than doubled.

Every entrepreneur faces challenges, fears, and doubts, according to Endeavor Entrepreneur and BY FAR Founder, Sabina Gyosheva. Especially when weighing whether to start a venture or not. “Women should not overthink what the drawbacks of launching a startup are,” Gyosheva said. “Instead, they should focus on the process of how to make it work.”

Still, women entrepreneurs overwhelmingly underscore the lack of access to capital and funding, especially with respect to angel investment and government grants, according to the National Women’s Business Council. Women secure an average of 5% less capital than men globally because of investor bias. Female founders also lack the confidence to pitch their businesses and as a result tend to get less venture capital funding.

The good news is that in the past two decades, most of the major VCs firms have women-representatives among their managing partners. Since 2018, the percentage of female decision makers in VC has risen from 9% to 13%, according to ‘All Raise’ researcher Pam Kosta. “VCs firms seem to understand that diversifying their investment teams is a strategic necessity that allows them to tap into a much broader set of networks and areas of expertise,” Kosta wrote.

Another challenge for female founders is finding the right community. Women do not always fit in the men’s activities that many of the founders use to supplement their business connections.

 Still, being part of a network is essential for every entrepreneur to stay updated and well-connected as many business openings and thought leadership opportunities take place in social settings through personal interactions. These connections secure know-how and help entrepreneurs stay relevant in the fast-changing business environment. Peer-to-peer connections where founders can exchange ideas, share tips, and deepen their understanding of relevant topics, are fundamental for a successful venture. Networks like Endeavor can contribute much in terms of community-inclusion, providing a spinning point for peer-to-peer connections, where founders can build relationships with mentors and investors across borders and industries.

When talking about women in business, we cannot overlook motherhood. Based on the Master card’s report (MIWE), women often have a hard time balancing work and childrearing. That dynamic worsened during the pandemic with the burden of stay-home measures.

Women-oriented policies and government regulations can provide support when deciding whether to start a business.

When evaluating the best environment for women entrepreneurship, two main factors play a key role: good social policies for women in business and a vibrant entrepreneurial community. In that regard, MIWE highlights four economies that stand out with high scores for women entrepreneurship: Israel, the U.S., Switzerland, and New Zealand. Women, engaged in business activities in these countries, operate within an incredibly vibrant and dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem, offering conducive social norms, strong business networks, creativity and innovation, and strong support system.

“Women who have businesses at the scaling phase need very different types of support than those in the idea or startup stage,” noted Endeavor President Adrian Garcia-Aranyos in the Endeavor Insight Report. “One of the best ways to address the individualized needs of women entrepreneurs is to encourage them to participate in accelerators and other similar support organizations focused on scaling later stage companies. Women are often underrepresented in these types of programs,” he adds.

Fortunately, we live in a century where we are changing worlds right now – in Space and on Earth. We will be able to see not only spaceships heading off to Mars, but women leading multi-million dollar deals, and female self-made billionaires who are shifting the narrative. The question is how can we further enhance progress? We need to change society’s perspective of the capability of women in business, and to eliminate bias. To lead by example, share the positive stories and inspire the next generations of female founders to dream big.

Dilyana Haralanova, Endeavor Bulgaria