Have you heard of the “third billion?” Even if you haven't, you're definitely going to feel their impact. “Third billion” describes a billion women from emerging markets who are going to join the global economy as entrepreneurs, employers and employees over the next decade. From Turkey to India, women entrepreneurs are taking leading roles in this global shift, transforming their local economies and their communities. Oh and in the process, changing the world.
Case in point: The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor study looked at 59 economies around the world and found that women are creating businesses at a higher and faster rate than men in three economies, and at a nearly equal rate in four others. Specifically, the startup rates by gender are comparable in Brazil, Ecuador, Switzerland and Uganda, and in Nigeria, Ghana and Thailand, the rate of new women entrepreneurs is higher than that of men. In the remaining 52 economies, the proportions of men startups are higher than women, in some cases, up to six times higher.
This is excellent news on a global scale as it signals a growing positive trend. After decades of legislative, policy and socio-cultural changes that have empowered women by supporting and training them, the world is finally placing women in leading business roles.
Not only transforming economies but communities too
In addition to now being better able to support their families, women entrepreneurs are creating jobs, generating innovations and contributing to the GNP of many economies, just as male entrepreneurs do. But what women entrepreneurs seem to do better than their male counterparts, among other things, is contribute to society. Women are more likely to reinvest their company profits in education, in their family's well-being and in their community, transforming the lives of everyone around them. In addition to focusing on profits, women make sure that their companies have a positive impact on their neighbors, far and wide.
To hear the story of a woman who's truly transforming lives, listen to my On The Brink podcast with Theresa Carrington who helps shift artisans from poverty to prosperity (click on the image below)
Women bring unique abilities to the business world, such as listening, intuitiveness and collaboration
To get the job done, put women on your board! According to research conducted by professors Anita Woolley, Thomas W. Malone and Christopher Chabris, along with Alex Pentland and Nada Hashmi, there is little correlation between the IQs of individual board members and the collective intelligence of a board. However, having more women on a board heightens the collective IQ of the group, especially regarding specific tasks such as strategic thinking, complex problem-solving and decision-making.
Women entrepreneurs are good for the bottom line
It's a fact: companies with women executives have raised their net income by 14% over the past couple of years. As proof, Credit Suisse Research Institute conducted research on gender diversity and corporate performance that shows how women in strategic roles exhibit better all-around performance, as well as better financial performance for companies.
The research highlighted four key findings:
- Higher return on equity (ROE)
- Better average growth
- Lower gearing
- Higher price/book value (P/BV)
The story of ARZU
Deeply moved by the extreme poverty she witnessed during a trip to Afghanistan, Connie Duckworth founded ARZU Studio Hope in 2003 whose mission is to create sustainable change for women through education, job creation and worker benefits. ARZU (which means “hope” in Dari) provides women weavers with a steady income and access to food, healthcare and education by selling the rugs the women weave.
Over the past decade, ARZU has employed 700 weavers from seven villages and 96% of its employees are women. What resulted from a trip to Afghanistan has become an innovative model of social entrepreneurship dedicated to helping women and their families break free from the crushing cycle of poverty.
Coca-Cola’s collective program in Rio
Another great example of women entrepreneurs powerfully impacting a community is Coca-Cola’s Colectivo (Collective) program in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It all started when one woman, Regina da Silva Gomes, decided to collect local garbage and exchange it for food, which eventually led to a larger-scale project to clean up her community.
After many years of economic and personal struggles, Regina eventually set up an entire recycling system which enables families to bring garbage for recycling in exchange for food from local grocery stores. Coca-Cola jumped in and helped her with infrastructure, management skills and a workable pricing strategy. Now Regina's neighborhood streets are no longer littered with trash and infested with rodents thanks to her innovative entrepreneurial spirit.
Coletivo 1st job is another innovative program in Rio that was started to teach young adults how to become employable. Coca-Cola supports these young people with supplies, facilities and additional education. The program has trained over 25,000 young adults, of whom 66% are women.
In both of these programs, ARZU and Coletivo, women entrepreneurs are making a real, measurable difference in hundreds, possibly thousands, of lives.
3 podcasts featuring the amazing vision of women entrepreneurs
- How Women Entrepreneurs Can Think Bigger, Build Sustainable Businesses and Change the World, with Stephanie Breedlove
- Finding The "Holes in the Cheese" To Build A Successful Business! Meet Kim Shepherd
- Tanya Hall—How a Woman CEO Built a Great Publishing Business
Are you a woman (or a man) with a big idea? Let's talk.
At Simon Associates Management Consultants, we help entrepreneurs successfully turn their ideas into reality. Our 6-Step Process is specifically designed for entrepreneurs who need smart, innovative business strategies so they can adapt to changing times and capitalize on new technologies. Please contact us to discuss how we might help you launch your business and, like the women discussed above, start changing the world. We look forward to hearing from you.
From Observation to Innovation,
Andi Simon, Ph.D.
Corporate Anthropologist | President
Simon Associates Management Consultants
Don't miss an episode of our On The Brink podcast!