New Report Released on Investment in Women-led Business

Press Release by Value for Women 
UK-based social enterprise Value for Women released a new research report this week detailing the problems of under-investment in women-led small and growing businesses. The report is the culmination of research conducted in collaboration with the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), BiD Network, ING Bank Sustainability, and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. The report, Beyond the Threshold: Investing in Women-led Small and Growing Businesses and accompanying video were launched this week at the ANDE Annual Conference in Glen Cove, NY, and are now available here.
Highlights of YFE research findings include:

  • Women’s entrepreneurship has positive effects for women, families, and communities, and on employees of women-led business.
  • In general women entrepreneurs are more likely to be service oriented and prefer organic growth, largely financed by their own or family funds.
  • There’s a gap in financing available for the small and growing business sector in general, and the finance that does exist is especially difficult for women to access.
  • Women entrepreneurs need support beyond—but linked to—finance; including support for skill building. They also need family support and role models, as well as access to networks and mentors to share ideas, information, and contacts.

In Kenya, women entrepreneurs shared that they face discrimination in financial institutions; while in India, barriers include social norms blocking access to participation in particular networking spaces.
One of the program sponsors, Maarten de Jongh, commented on the importance of the research: “ING Bank Sustainability is proud to have sponsored this research because we see women in business as significant contributors to growth in the developing world.” Indeed, evidence for the importance of supporting women entrepreneurs is mounting. Organizations like the International Finance Corporation and World Bank have noted the significant percentage of small and medium enterprises in the developing world led by women—around 35%—as well as the gaps in investment and slower growth paths for these potential employment generators. The report provides further insight into this phenomenon, as well as a wealth of ideas for ways to address the critical gender-related barriers to economic growth and development.
Value for Women’s unique approach engages key players throughout the research, encouraging them to develop solutions during data collection. A literature review, expert interviews, focus group discussions, surveys, and ecosystem design workshops led to findings on the barriers to investment in women-led small businesses, as well as practical recommendations for actors including banks, impact investors, capacity developers, and associations like ANDE.
See the full report for recommendations to investors and banks, as well as capacity-development organizations.