Female entrepreneurs are faced with unusually high expectations to balance being great business leaders, great mothers and wives and fit everyone’s idealistic mould; and although entrepreneurship was once considered the man’s domain female entrepreneurs are growing in droves.
Our importance to growing our countries’ GDPs are undeniable, just see this excerpt from an article in the Trinidad Express in 2014:
“Today, around the world, well over 200 million women are either starting or currently running their own business and over 100 million of those employ others in the process, 12 million are set to employ up to six additional people in the next five years...just taking into account that specific group of women entrepreneurs we are talking about adding another 72 million jobs.
Despite these rewarding statistics, women still often face a set of challenges not typically faced by our male counterparts. Women have to work harder to prove themselves and in many instances cannot show perceived weaknesses or failures. As a result, some of us fall into the trap of being less than our true and authentic selves all in an effort to be at the top of our game.
Here are the major challenges I see women face:
- Balancing business and family
I once saw an interview not too long ago where Anne-Marie Slaughter, former director of policy for the US State Department speak about her book Unfinished Business. In it she describes the difficulty of holding such an important role while trying to balance her family (husband and two children) In the book she also talked about the difficulty of leaving her job and going back home to parent then teenagers. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon for many female entrepreneurs who start their businesses and have to simultaneously run their families and business.
- Building a support network and fear of failure
Advisors and mentors are an integral part of pushing entrepreneurs to the next level, but for women finding the right one still pose challenging. Forty-eight percent of female founders report that a lack of available advisers and mentors limits their professional growth, according to Inc. –
Female entrepreneurs face competition from other women, a lack of support from men and women, and even their own fears of inadequacies and failures. These limitations can lead women not to take the necessary risks in business to see the benefits derived by their male equivalent.
- Struggling to raise capital
Female entrepreneurs have habitually struggled to attract startup capital as well as ongoing funds to assist in growing their businesses. This is especially worse in some parts of the world with some financial institutions profiling female entrepreneurs towards businesses that they deem are better suited for us such as consultancy services and some types of retail services.
In summary, women-led firms have enormous potential to impact the economy in which they operate. The effort to assist women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses is growing in Trinidad and Tobago and I am proud to say that I am apart of and aware of a number of groups and associations that cater specifically to raising the level of confidence and success of women.
It makes good sense to support women-led organisations, not just for the benefit to the economy but also because of the positive impact we have on society.
1 http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5268-women-entrepreneur-challenges.html#sthash.dFC6YJxp.dpuf [ Accessed dd 16.01.17]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Debbie-Ann Jollie is a Marketing Strategist and the principal Director of HashSpace Limited. She is a certified trainer with over 15 years’ experience in marketing management both in public and private organizations as well as through consulting.