Translated to French as "Femmes entrepreneurs: Catalyseurs de transformation" [PDF].
From Bangladesh to Paris and from
Nairobi to New York, women everywhere are becoming entrepreneurs.
The profound structural changes taking place in the economies of
the developed world provide new opportunities for women.
Manufacturing is in decline, but the rapidly developing services
and information industries are burgeoning. In this rapid change
and ensuing disarray brought about by the globalization of
markets and competition, new technology, and instantaneous
communications, traditional methods are proving ineffective. As a
result, new ways of thinking and doing are given a hearing. At
such a conjuncture, the leadership style of women and their
special capacities and qualities appear especially valuable.
In addition to structural transformation, changes in values also
are taking place. As Naisbitt and Aburdene observe in their study
of corporate change, "Significant change occurs when there
is a confluence of changing values and economic necessity."
The authors feel that women will transform the workplace when
they seize the opportunity to express, rather than suppress,
their own feminine values.
Changing sociological factors also encourage women to enter the
realm of the workplace. Since the Second World War, there has
been a growing influx of women into Western labor markets,
motivated in part by their felt need for financial independence
and self-sufficiency. Other factors include the inadequacy of one
paycheck today to meet the financial needs of many middle-class
families, a growing divorce rate, and an increasing number of
women as heads of household. Moreover, changing values and
attitudes toward paid work also encourage some financially secure
women to seek self-realization outside the home.
This emerging pattern in the West has found an echo in the
developing world as well. In country after country, development
agencies have discovered the importance of women's contributions
to the local economy and their potential as key actors in
promoting sustainable development at the grass roots.
Whether in the West or in the developing world, however, not all
women are content to be employees. A growing number are emerging
as entrepreneurs. These are people who choose, for their own
account, to organize and manage the resources of their own
companies and assume the financial risks inherent in doing so in
the hope of eventually earning a profit. For low-income women,
the primary motivation is to generate income. But for many women
entrepreneurs, such other objectives as self-realization or doing
something worthwhile are as important as profits. At one extreme,
their enterprises may be as small as their own part-time work. At
another, they may grow into such large enterprises as The Body
Shop, an international chain of natural cosmetics with annual
sales in excess of £500 million and founded by Anita Roddick.
This article discusses the contributions to society of
entrepreneurs, both male and female, as well as key elements for
their success. Because women in developing countries view access
to credit as their greatest need, we shall also look at one man's
response, then define the characteristics of women entrepreneurs
and their companies in the wealthier nations. In this
fast-changing developed world, some dynamic male-led companies
are transforming their structure and functioning. One result is a
convergence of a new model of management and the leadership style
of women. Finally, we shall examine some of the particular
challenges and difficulties faced specifically by women.
The economic impact of entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs, both male and female, play a vital role in
creating wealth and jobs. In the face of global competition,
large manufacturers are "down-sizing" by reorganizing
and laying off workers at an unprecedented rate. The resulting
high levels of unemployment are of great political, social, and
economic concern. And yet, in this unstable economic environment,
entrepreneurial firms turn out to be creators of jobs. Firms with
fewer than twenty employees provide a quarter of all jobs. And a
growing number of these small, new companies are led by women. In
the United States companies owned by women provide 12 million
jobs, while the 500 largest firms, the so-called Fortune 500,
employ slightly fewer: 11.7 million jobs. Furthermore, these
Fortune 500 companies are shedding 200,000 to 300,000 employees
Entrepreneurs are innovators, and innovation stimulates general
economic growth. Towns that once depended upon a single large
manufacturer now recognize the wisdom of attracting small
entrepreneurial companies. The resulting diversification
contributes to the stability and resiliency of the local economy.
Increased local ownership also adds stability, since people who
live and work in a community and who serve their neighbors have a
personal stake in its well-being. In addition, entrepreneurship
is a means of providing economic opportunity for disadvantaged
groups, including women, low-wage earners, and minorities.
Women entrepreneurs make another important contribution to
economic development by creating wealth as well as jobs. During
eight years from 1980 to 1988, the number of entrepreneurs in the
US increased 56 percent while the number of female entrepreneurs
among these increased 82 percent. Over the same period, the rate
of growth in revenue of women's enterprises more than doubled
that of the entrepreneurial sector as a whole.
(It should be noted, however, that most male entrepreneurs
generate far more revenue than do female entrepreneurs.)
Key elements of entrepreneurial success
A given in achieving success is a cultural environment which is
favorable to entrepreneurial activity. In parts of the world,
entrepreneurs must operate in a hostile atmosphere, one that
equates entrepreneurship with dishonesty and a 'Mafia' mentality;
in other areas, however, the drive and innovations of
entrepreneurs contribute significantly to economic development.
Governments play an essential role in fostering conditions for
success. They can do this by creating a stable macro-economic
environment, by reducing such barriers such as arbitrary
restrictions and a meddlesome bureaucracy, by providing the
necessary infrastructure of reliable communications,
transportation, energy, and technology, and directly supporting
creation of new enterprises.
Individual entrepreneurs may have little influence over the
cultural and business environment in which they must operate, but
they are free to choose their moral and ethical behaviors. Ethics
is concerned with morally right and wrong actions; it is based
upon the universal values that underlie the teachings of the
world's great religious traditions. Among ethical values
pertinent to business in general and to entrepreneurs in
particular are honesty, truthfulness, as well as trustworthiness
and reliability, respect for others, justice, and an attitude of
Good ethical behavior is becoming recognized as good business
behavior. Combining the two requires applying one's personal
ethical standards to the problems of business. Business ethics
can be divided into three categories: the choices one makes
concerning law, choices about economic and social issues not
defined by law, and choices involving one's own self-interest.
Wise and ethical business decisions depend upon one's business
obligations and reflect one's consciousness of moral and human
values. Entrepreneurs depend particularly heavily
not only upon loyal customers but also upon the collaboration of
bankers, suppliers, partners, and employees. Consequently, they
have the greatest chance of long-term viability if these
relationships are based upon honesty, fairness, reliability,
quality, and service.
The rise of women entrepreneurs
The Developed World
In the world's
wealthiest countries, there is great diversity of characteristics
shared by women who are entrepreneurs or who aspire to create
their own economic activity. Some already are professionals or
well-educated people with corporate managerial experience. Others
have gained experience through the unpaid work of home management
and motherhood. Still others live in a fourth world as the urban
poor in wealthy nations and may have little schooling or work
The rise of women entrepreneurs is recent. Scarcely a quarter of
a century ago, before 1970, women entrepreneurs were rare. Since
then, however, their increase has been remarkable. An article
published under the auspices of Paris-based OECD, the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, calls it
"one of the most significant economic and social
developments in the world."
New enterprise creation by men and women differ by country. In
the United States women create new enterprises half again more
frequently than do men. Since 1990, women in eastern Germany have
created a third of the new enterprises, providing 1 million new
jobs and contributing $15 billion annually to the gross national
product. In the Maghreb, embracing Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia,
Muslim women create one in every ten new enterprises.
According to a 1986 report by OECD, businesses owned by women in
the 25 member states averaged 28 percent of all
entrepreneurial activity. This ranged from a low of 15 percent in
Denmark to a high of 39 percent in Canada. However, these figures
are already almost a decade old. The US Small Business
Administration now estimates that, by the year 2000, up to half
of all entrepreneurial activity in the country will be headed by
The Developing World
entrepreneurs in both developing countries and developed
countries share many characteristics, many more women in the
developing world remain illiterate - although not lacking in
intelligence, experience, and wisdom - and live in poor rural
Nonetheless, women have always actively participated in their
local economies. In Africa, for example, women produce 80 percent
of the food. In Asia, they produce 60 percent and in Latin
America 40 percent. In many cases, women not only produce food
but market it as well, giving them a well-developed knowledge of
local markets and customers.
The majority of the impoverished in the world are women and
children. The tiny enterprises undertaken by some of these women
enable them to improve the quality of life for themselves and
their families. These "micro-enterprises" have begun to
attract much attention. Charitable and nonprofit organizations
working at the grass roots have found that investing in women
offers the most effective means to improve health, nutrition,
hygiene, and educational standards. The Foundation for
International Community Assistance, FINCA, describes women as the
"most dependable, productive, and creative members of
The rich get richer, the poor poorer. Is it possible to break
this vicious circle? A solution is emerging that helps the poor
improve their lot while building their dignity and
self-confidence. This solution - called micro-credits - is
considered by many to be a key to sustainable grass roots
Take the case of Hassena Bawa in Bangladesh. After her husband
died of a snake bite, Hassena Bawa was left penniless to provide
for her young son. Working in the fields, she earned $5 a week,
enough to give her son two meals a day, but leaving very little
for herself. Then, a $50 loan gave her the means to buy a sewing
machine. While working in the fields by day, she made clothes for
her neighbors in the evening, doubling her income. A second small
loan enabled her to plant a vegetable garden. Today Hassena Bawa
owns a two room house and her son has finished his schooling.
Hassena Bawa is a "micro-entrepreneur." She was able to
overcome a personal tragedy in the loss of her husband because of
"micro-credits" from the Grameen Bank.
Organizations that provide small loans for the poor have
burgeoned over the last decade. Far from the important financial
institutions of New York, London, and Frankfurt, Muhammad Yunis,
an economics professor in Bangladesh, pioneered the concept of
micro-credits. In 1983, Yunis founded the Grameen Bank. It was
one of the first in the world to specialize in tiny loans to
people having no collateral and no credit history.
Today, it is probably the best known. More than 30,000 branches
of Grameen Bank now operate in the villages of Bangladesh.
Overall, the bank serves 2 million borrowers of whom 94 percent
are women. Although the bank loans to men, too, it targets women
for reasons of social and economic development, since it has
found that women reinvest in their enterprises and use their
income to improve their families' living conditions, health,
nutrition, and education. In contrast, men tend to spend their
income on personal social activities. The bank's average loan is
$140 and its repayment rate runs an enviable 98 percent! In 1994,
it loaned 15,251 million taka (about $381 million) to its members
and had 12,231 taka (or $306 million) in savings and deposits.
Loans are approved for persons who are members of a group of five
people, living in a single village. Because the poor lack
collateral to secure a loan against default, the group is made
responsible for its repayment. Each group chooses its membership
and alternately extends a "carrot" or a
"stick" to help each member of the group meet loan
commitments. As long as any one of a group's members is in
arrears, the group cannot receive a new loan.
The bank also makes major investments in the training and
education of its personnel and members. Bank personnel inform and
counsel the borrowers and encourage them to follow the four
principles of the Grameen: discipline, unity, courage, and hard
work. In addition, its own social and economic development
projects display notable results in improved health, nutrition,
hygiene, and education.
The success of Grameen Bank has inspired the creation of other
"banks for the poor" based upon the same principles and
methodology, in both urban and rural areas and in the developed
as well as in the developing world. Examples include
"Accion" in Latin America; "The Women's Self
Employment Project" in Chicago, and the "Rural
Development Organization" in India.
The expansion potential for organizations specialized in loans to
the poor is enormous. Estimates of the world market for
micro-credits range from $3 billion to $20 billion. The demand is
clearly huge. Already, there are 500 million micro-entrepreneurs
most of whom are women. Unfortunately, only 10 million of these
have access to financial services beyond their own families or
the local money-lender/usurer. To attack this problem, Grameen
Bank created the "People's Fund for Micro-Credit
Programs" with a goal of raising $100 million to support the
Grameen Replication Program around the world through generating
$100 contributions from 1 million people.
For the poor, grants are proof of solidarity while access to
loans gives them dignity and self-confidence as well as the means
of improving, through their own efforts, the quality of their
lives. The results of Grameen Bank, achieved through mutual trust
and responsibility, offers a model solution to many of the
problems of poverty.
Other micro-credit models exist. The scope of their activities
varies from a specific socio-economic group in one city to
regional, national, or multinational coverage in both the
developed and developing worlds. Some provide individual loans
rather than group loans or loan only to established enterprises
rather than to entrepreneurs seeking to create one. Micro-credit
organizations differ in their way of helping people. Grameen Bank
makes loans directly to members of a Grameen group. Other
organizations guarantee loans made by commercial banks. Still
others provide training for preparing a business plan to present
to a bank in applying for a loan.
While much of the interest in women entrepreneurs in the
developing world centers on the different micro-credit models,
growing research on women as entrepreneurs in wealthier nations
is generating fresh data about the women participants themselves.
Why are they interested in having their own company? In what ways
do women and men entrepreneurs differ? Is the organization and
functioning of women-led companies different from male-led firms?
What barriers and difficulties are specific to women?
Why women seek to create their own enterprise
No single factor
incites a woman to build her own company. Her reasons are based
upon personal and external circumstances, both positive and
negative. Negative factors "push" women to consider
entrepreneurship while positive factors "pull" or
attract. Push factors include necessity, lack of child care
facilities, unacceptable working conditions, rigid hours, the
wage gap between men and women, occupational segregation, job
frustration such as the "glass ceiling" blocking
advancement, or disillusionment with traditional
employer/employee relationships. In some countries unemployment
is a major push factor. Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, 94%
of women in the former German Democratic Republic worked. Today,
the 20% unemployment rate in eastern Germany has touched off a
surge in female entrepreneurship: 150,000 new female-run
companies have been launched since 1990.
Positive factors pulling women into entrepreneurship include
market opportunity, an interest in a particular area of activity,
social objectives, a need for flexible hours, greater income and
financial independence, a need simply to get out of the house,
and a desire for autonomy, personal growth, and increased job
satisfaction. Unlike most men for whom the profit motive is the
primary reason for creating their own companies, women in Germany
put profits in fourth or fifth place after their desire to become
self-sufficient and develop their own ideas.
Market opportunities exist for providing specific services to
lighten the burden or save time for working women who must juggle
responsibilities both at home and at work outside the home. Some
other opportunities are fortuitous: One woman with a degree in
fine arts, for example, noticed that designs on casual rugs being
sold by a local department store were rather plain and offered to
design more attractive rugs. After several years of successful
collaboration, she founded her own company.
Male and female entrepreneurs
In 1994 the National
Foundation for Women Business Owners (USA) commissioned a
research project to study whether or not men and women
entrepreneurs think about and manage their entrepreneurial
businesses differently. It found that male and female
entrepreneurs think similarly but that their leadership styles
The analysis of thinking styles was based upon six different
thinking modes: conceptual versus perceptual; logic versus feel;
and internal (or reflection) versus external (or action). The
most significant result is that entrepreneurs as a group more
resemble one another in their thinking than they do the working
population as a whole. Entrepreneurs, whether men or women,
emphasize conceptual thinking in acquiring information. Where
gender differences do show up is in decision-making: men strongly
emphasize logic or left-brain thinking; women balance logic with
right brain thinking - that is, feelings, intuition,
relationships, sensitivity, and values.
In their orientation of attention between internal and external,
or reflection versus action, men and women also showed
similarity, although women tend to be more reflective and men
more action oriented.
Where clear differences emerged, however, was in their management
or leadership styles. The characteristics of their styles reflect
important differences in adult male and female development.
Distinguishing traits of male development are autonomy,
independence, and competition; those of women are relations,
interdependence, and cooperation.
The structure of traditional male-led organizations resembles a
hierarchy or pyramid. The most frequent management method in such
a structure - whether military, ecclesiastical, or corporate - is
"command and control." Authority stems from one's
position within the hierarchy. Emphasis is more upon goals and
objectives than on the process or the atmosphere in which they
are achieved. Relationships are competitive, and power is
enhanced through control of information. So information tends to
be hoarded rather than shared.
The woman as entrepreneur
Among the particular
characteristics of women entrepreneurs are their great diversity,
their strong interpersonal skills, and the transfer of
"motherhood skills" to the job.
Studies in the developed world show that there is no single
"type" of female entrepreneur. Many work out of their
homes, and use knowledge and skills acquired in this role. Others
are experienced professionals or were managers in businesses
before setting out on their own. They differ in social
background, educational level, experience, and age.
Women bring to their work strong interpersonal skills. One trait
is a capacity for empathy, the ability to view something from
another person's perspective. Women have strong communications
skills. They are active, attentive listeners with an ability to
sense what is not being said as well as what is. They are
collaborative and consultative, intuitive and rational. Rather
than giving orders women prefer to lead through influence and
persuasion, teaching and guiding. Female entrepreneurs are
"holistic," inclined to see things in a context. Being
responsible for both home and work, they tend to keep the various
aspects of their lives in perspective and manifest the same
qualities and characteristics whether at work or at home. Nor do
they hesitate to ask for help or information.
Motherhood skills are gaining value in management in a working
world increasingly buffeted by change. Skills acquired through
women's socialization and their traditional role of tending
relationships are being transferred to the workplace. These
include fostering of other people's development through leading,
guiding, monitoring, and sharing information. Women are
experienced in balancing claims, in organizing and pacing, and in
handling disturbances. A woman's domestic experience prepares her
to live with change and uncertainty, and gives her the capacity
of playing several roles, "wearing many hats."
One particular competency is negotiation. As Barbara Grogan,
entrepreneur and founder of Western Industrial Contractors,
quips, "If you can figure out which one gets the gumdrop,
the four-year-old or the six-year-old, you can negotiate any
contract in the world."
In more serious vein, Leonard Greenhalgh,
a professor at the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at
Dartmouth University who has studied the qualities needed in
successful negotiations found that men and women differ in
negotiating styles and objectives. Having been conditioned to
compete and win in games and sports, men approach negotiations
with the objective of coming out best - winning. Greenhalgh
believes that male developmental characteristics and the male
objective of winning lie at the root of many of the problems in
business and the world in general. Women, on the other hand,
approach negotiations with long-term, mutually beneficial and
collaborative relationships in mind. For this reason, Greenhalgh
would like to see women play more active roles in negotiating
Characteristics of women-run enterprises
Having the freedom and
power to organize their businesses according to their preferred
ways of working, women entrepreneurs do not generally follow the
traditional male management model. The typical structure of
women-run enterprises is that of a web, in which everyone is in
touch with everyone else, with each person a potential resource
for everyone else. Female business leaders feel most comfortable
in the center of things rather than alone at the top of the
The manner in which work is done also reflects women's
traditional work which has tended to be repetitive, cyclical and
- unlike most male tasks - rarely involves a final goal. Whether
it is the African woman who prepares the ground, plants, tends,
harvests, stores the crop and then repeats the cycle, or the
Western woman whose homemaking and child-care responsibilities
are repeated day after day, women are as much attuned to process
as to objective. As a result, women as entrepreneurs seek to
offer work that is meaningful, relationships that are fulfilling,
and environments that provide for individual growth and
The work atmosphere of woman-led companies reflect feminine
values and the characteristic developmental qualities of women:
relationships, interdependence, and cooperation. Thus, one is
likely to find a team approach, and even the alternation of
responsibilities. According to Edward Moldt, a professor at the
Wharton School of Finance and Management, women will soon develop
many more businesses in the $50 million-to-$100 million a year
range because their leadership style of building teams and
developing consensus is better adapted to guiding a company
through its growth stages than are strategies typical of male
executives. Women's leadership models include the
traditional role of caring for and nurturing others. Rather than
hoarding information as a means of control over others, women
leaders encourage sharing as a way of building trust and
Although a number of books written by males on business success
insist that people will be motivated to work harder if the
manager keeps them off-balance and in competition, the editor of
a woman's magazine said that her female staff resented such
methods and worked less rather than more under those conditions.
A successful approach to human resources development for this
manager was to see herself as a gardener helping plants develop.
With support and encouragement, she found, her employees just
In such an atmosphere, initiative, creativity, and suggestions
are valued and enthusiasm is generated. By paying attention to
the quality of relationships, women entrepreneurs are protecting
one of their most important assets: their people. Companies that
value their workers' knowledge, skills, experience, ideas, and
enthusiasm have an edge to deal successfully with the challenges
of a turbulent economic scene in which the industrial age gives
way to the information age.
Women's leadership and management
Faced with unrelenting
global competition, instantaneous communication, and an economic
environment in upheaval, a number of dynamic male-led companies
are adapting their structures and work processes. The emergence
of what has been called a new paradigm (or model) of management
has certain similarities to the characteristics of women's
leadership style. The pyramid or hierarchy has been found too
cumbersome and slow in responding to challenge, leading some
companies to cut whole layers of management. The traditional
compartmentalized organization is giving way to cross-discipline
teams drawn together for specific projects. For example, new
automobile designs, once the province of designers and engineers,
now are developed by teams which include representatives from
marketing, production, finance, assembly, retail sales, and even
The competitive atmosphere within a company is being replaced by
cooperation, consultation, and communications. Responsible
leaders are recognizing as invaluable assets the experience,
knowledge, and creativity of their people. Through group
consultation, each individual's point of view and insight may
reveal different facets of a situation. Wiser decisions are more
likely to emerge.
Because of rapidly changing circumstances, many male-led
organizations are adopting structures and strategies similar to
those created by women entrepreneurs who, lacking role models,
were guided by their natural characteristics and feminine values.
In the midst of these profound economic changes, there is also a
growing desire for a new work ethic by men as well as women.
People increasingly aspire to more meaningful work and an
environment that promotes such values as cooperation,
encouragement, opportunities for personal growth, and a better
balance between work and family. All these elements - external
forces, the desire for a new work ethic, and the increased
influence of women's leadership ways - presage further
modifications in corporate structure and functioning.
Special problems and barriers
Although men as well as
women face difficulties in establishing an enterprise, women have
particular barriers to overcome. Among them are negative
prevailing socio-cultural attitudes, practical external barriers,
and personal difficulties.
Negative attitudes are frequently based upon sex discrimination,
so-called gender bias. In dealing with the various stakeholders
associated with her company - such as suppliers, bankers, or
customers - women often suffer from low credibility. Some men
have negative perceptions of women as serious business people;
these tend to consider women-run businesses as hobbies. Moreover,
women are sometimes hobbled by governmental laws and
institutional policies that reflect this attitude. Not
infrequently, prospective women entrepreneurs in the Western
world have been humiliated when seeking business loans by being
obliged to have their husband co-sign the note.
Difficulties are made worse by such external barriers as lack of
access to information and technical expertise or informal
networks that exclude women but are important sources of help and
counsel for men. Because significant growth in the number of
female entrepreneurs is a relatively recent phenomenon, women
have few role models and little opportunity for finding female
One of the most difficult problems has been a lack of access to
business loans from traditional banking sources. Women who want
to start an enterprise often do not meet the conditions of
commercial banks: a positive history of borrowing, property to
offer as collateral to secure a loan, and a business "track
record." Further, the amount of money they want to borrow is
generally too small for banks to consider since the cost of
processing a loan for $10,000 is as great as for one of $100,000.
An attitude among some male bank officials that women cannot
handle money only adds to the difficulty of obtaining needed
financing - even though many women often handle their families'
financial matters and have proved themselves to be responsible
and cautious borrowers. Not a few women have had to resort to
tapping costly credit through their credit cards.
Women also face personal barriers to entrepreneurship. Having
primary responsibility for children, home, and older dependent
family members, few women can devote all their time and energies
to their business. Despite these responsibilities, most women
organize themselves to handle them effectively. But a lack of
management experience and basic business knowledge is a handicap
for some women whose main occupation has been that of a
homemaker. Many if not most women lack self-confidence, perhaps
because of their training as helper rather than chief. In
addition, women generally have an aversion to taking risks. Even
though many women's enterprises offer opportunities for
development, some women prefer to keep their businesses small
rather than risk growth. Other women decide not to develop their
companies, even in the face of great demand, because they are
unwilling to sacrifice time with their families.
The American magazine Working Woman attributed many failures of
women-owned businesses to a lack of access to capital, inadequate
expertise, and the absence of psychological support.
Help for women entrepreneurs
A growing number of
non-governmental organizations and micro-credit groups offer
loans to a small percentage of low-income women. In the developed
world, particularly in countries with stubborn, high
unemployment, the contributions which entrepreneurial women have
already made toward reducing unemployment have incited a number
of governments as well as local, national, and international
agencies to create programs designed to advise, train, and help
them obtain business loans or grants. To stimulate economic
growth in eastern Germany, the German government has sponsored
many programs to provide capital for new enterprises. The
European Commission has created the "Local Employment
Initiatives" network which provides grants and technical
assistance to women who create enterprises and offer jobs to the
unemployed. The LEI network, in the framework of the NOW or New
Opportunities for Women initiative, also offers training and
development to help women overcome the various cultural
obstacles. The International Labor Organization and the OECD also
have departments devoted to the development of entrepreneurship
Women themselves have also created nonprofit organizations and
mutual-aid networks to help prospective entrepreneurs. They offer
information, counseling, training, networks, as well as help in
obtaining capital which is among the greatest challenges facing
female entrepreneurs. Women's World Banking is one of the most
dynamic international agencies offering loans, loan guarantees,
training, and a support network. Mama Cash in Amsterdam and
Goldrausch in Berlin help women obtain capital through the
traditional sources of government grants and bank loans. The US
Small Business Administration guarantees 90 percent of bank loans
to small enterprises.
Global Woman, a newsletter of information and networking for
women entrepreneurs, was created by the Forum for Intercultural
Communication in Washington, DC. The Birmingham Settlement in the
United Kingdom counsels women and helps them acquire professional
qualifications. The National Education Center for Women in
Business was established in 1993 at Seton Hill College in
Pennsylvania to act as an information clearinghouse for women
entrepreneurs as well as to conduct research and provide
educational programs. These are only a few examples among the
growing number of organizations, public and private, devoted to
helping women who want to create their own enterprise.
Several major conclusions
can be drawn from the foregoing. One is that entrepreneurial
women have proven leadership skills and demonstrated a capacity
to contribute in a significant manner to the prosperity of
humanity. Women entrepreneurs in the developed world have become
important players in creating enterprises, jobs, and wealth. In
the developing world, they are considered as the best hope for
lifting their families and villages out of poverty.
As women develop competence and acquire experience, and as the
artificial barriers to their full participation in the economic
life of their communities gradually fall, the integration of
feminine values into the workplace should create a more humane
and balanced work environment. Because of women's particular
leadership style, which reflects feminine values and women's
developmental characteristics, women-run enterprises generally
provide a caring, cooperative work environment in which
individual growth and development are fostered. At the same time,
women's ways of leading are proving themselves particularly
effective in today's turbulent economic world.
Another observation worthy of reflection is the convergence of a
new paradigm of management and a style of leadership typical of
women. Globalization of markets and competition, new technology,
and instantaneous communication bring with them unprecedented
change. This is forcing traditional companies to
"reinvent" themselves, to adopt a new model of
management that shares some of its features with the leadership
traits of women entrepreneurs
The example of the accomplishment of women entrepreneurs may well
give credence to the prediction made at the beginning of this
century that the "new age will be an age less masculine and
more permeated with feminine ideals, or, to speak more exactly,
will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of
civilization will be more evenly balanced."
- John Naisbitt and Patricia
Aburdene, Reinventing the Corporation (New York: Warner
Books, 1986), p. 51.
- Patricia Aburdene and John
Naisbitt, Megatrends for Women: From Liberation to
Leadership (New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1992), p. 70.
- ibid., p. 71.
- George Starcher, Ethics
& Entrepreneurship: An Oxymoron? (Paris: European
Bahá'í Business Forum, 1995), pp. 8-12.
- ibid., p. 14-15.
- Candida Brush, "Women
and Enterprise Creation" in Enterprising Women:
Local Initiatives for Job Creation, eds. Sara K. Gould
and Julia Parzen (Paris: OECD, 1990), p. 37.
- OECD and the Commission of
the European Community, "L'Irrésistible Montée des
Femmes Entrepreneurs" [The Irresistible Rise of
Women Entrepreneurs], Innovation & Emploi [Innovation
& Employment], No. 14, December 1993, p. 3; David
Woodruff, "A Woman's Place is in Her Own
Business", Business Week, 18 March 1996, p. 25.
- ECD member countries:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland,
France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, Iceland,
Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the
Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain,
Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the
United States. It should be noted that OECD member
countries are virtually all developed countries. OECD
statistics concern these countries.
- Aburdene and Naisbitt,
Megatrends for Women, p. 314.
- David Butts, "The Next
Frontier: Emerging-Market Investment is Taking Form in
the World's Poorest Countries", Grameen Dialogue No.
24, October 1995, p. 1.
- Rushworth M. Kidder, Shared
Values for a Troubled World: Conversations with Men and
Women of Conscience (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Publishers, 1994), p. 145.
- Grameen Dialogue, p. 7;
Shahidur R. Khandker, Baqui Khalilly, Zahed Khan, Grameen
Bank: Performance and Sustainability. World Bank
Discussion Papers, no. 306 (Washington, DC: The
International Bank for Reconstruction and
Development/World Bank, 1995), p. 138.
- For information on the
People's Fund, contact the Grameen Trust, Grameen Bank
Bhaban, Mirpur Two, Dhaka 1216, Bangladesh.
- Woodruff, Business Week, p.
- Described in the research
report Styles of Success: The Thinking and Management
Styles of Women and Men Entrepreneurs. (Washington, DC:
The National Foundation for Women Business Owners, 1994).
- This difference between left
and right brain functioning in men and women was recently
confirmed by medical research. Using magnetic resonance
imaging techniques, researchers at Yale University
Medical School discovered that an activation pattern was
centered in the left frontal area in men whereas both the
left and right frontal areas were active in women.
Described in Yale, summer 1995, p. 45.
- The question as to what
proportion of human qualities, considered as male or
female characteristics and values, are sexually innate
and which are acquired through socialization is still not
resolved. Until about fifteen years ago, research on
adult development was directed by men using male
subjects. Since that time, research on women's
development has shown that there are important
differences between men and women. Among some of the most
influential books on the subject of women's development
are the following: Jean Baker Miller, MD, Toward a New
Psychology of Women, 2nd edition (Boston: Beacon Press,
1986). Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice:
Psychological Theory and Women's Development (Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1982). Mary Field Belenky et
al, Women's Ways of Knowing: the Development of Self,
Voice, and Mind (U.S.A.: Basic Books, 1986).
- Sally Helgesen, The Female
Advantage: Women's Ways of Leading (New York: Doubleday
Currency, 1990), 32.
- ibid., p. 247-49.
- Aburdene and Naisbitt,
Megatrends for Women, p. 71.
- Helgesen, The Female
Advantage, pp. xiii-xiv.
- Working Woman, July 1993, p.
- Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development and the Commission of the
European Community, "L'Irrésistible Montée des
Femmes Entrepreneurs" [The Irresistible Rise of
Women Entrepreneurs] in Innovation & Employment
(Paris: OECD and the Commission of the European
Community, December 1993, number 14), passim.
- 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Star of the
West, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Chicago: Bahá'í News Service,
April 28, 1912), p. 4; quoted in J. E. Esslemont,
Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era (Wilmette, Illinois:
Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 149.