Ten African countries made the list with Ghana ranking the highest with 46% of women business owners as a percentage of all business owners.
Ghana ranked ahead of second-placed Russia (34.6%), third-placed Uganda 33.8% and the United States which is listed at 23rd with only 25.5% of the businesses owned by women.
Strengths and Opportunities
The report noted that there are several aspects of the entrepreneurial conditions in Ghana that leads to the strong level of women entrepreneurship. First, it said women tend to be more inclined to engage in entrepreneurial activities (38%) than men (35%). They were also found to have a very strong representation as business leaders.
Another enabling factor was found to stem from Ghanaian society’s high regard for entrepreneurship as a good career choice (81.6%) and successful entrepreneurs (94.1%). For both perception indicators, Ghana’s rating was the highest in the world (GEM 2012 sub-Saharan Africa).
“This is not surprising. Given that the country is a lower-middle income and factor-driven market, women typically turn to necessity-driven entrepreneurial activities out of sheer will to survive and support oneself and family,” the report said.
“These activities are often operated in the informal micro to medium-scale agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors of the economy, and take the form of self-employment (as opposed to job creation or business growth).
“The vital role that women play as farm owners, farm partners and farm labourers is astounding: their contribution is estimated to account for around 70% to 80% of food consumed in the country. They have also become increasingly responsible for the education and other material needs of their wards, especially in female-headed households”.
The Index also indicated that developed markets with strong enabling conditions are not immune to a cultural bias against female entrepreneurship.
The Index suggested that the opportunity for entrepreneurship is not necessarily aligned with the pace of a market’s economic development. Emerging economies such as Ghana (46.4 percent) – one of the Index’s three newly added markets along with Malawi and Nigeria – Uganda (33.8 percent) and Vietnam (31.3 percent) were found to have higher women business ownership rates, compared to more developed ones.
Women in these markets are deemed as necessity-driven entrepreneurs, spurred by a need for survival despite their lack of financial capital and access to enabling services.
Overall, the Index showed that budding and established women entrepreneurs around the world continue to progress despite gender-related cultural biases that can create significant roadblocks hindering them from advancing their businesses.
The Index used 12 indicators and 25 sub-indicators to look at how 57 countries (economies) across the Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, North America, Latin America and Europe – representing 78.6 percent of the world’s female labour force – differ in terms of the level of the three components.
Women business owners as a percentage of all business owners – Top 10 markets
The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs tracks female entrepreneurs’ ability to capitalize on opportunities granted through various supporting conditions within their local environments and is the weighted sum of three components: