A Force to reckon with

 By: Centre for Women in Politics and Public Leadership, Carleton University

Despite the dominant rhetoric that woman are risk-averse, the number of female entrepreneurs has more than doubled in the last two decades.

Conclusions: The Way Forward

Nevertheless, there are still some challenges (e.g., access to funding) discouraging women from starting and growing their own businesses. Based on insights obtained from female entrepreneurs, this report demonstrates the need for better tools and measurements of how women entrepreneurs make risk related decisions, the business needs and success of female entrepreneurs, the need for improvement of communication between financial institutions and women entrepreneurs (e.g., develop strategies to increase awareness among female entrepreneurs of available credit and promote a relationship-based approach in financial institutions), and the introduction of training and mentorship programs for women, as well as training for front-line staff of lending organizations.

Equally important, the report stresses the need to understand risk taking as a means to achieve social and economic goals, and not an end in itself. With such an understanding we can analyze the multiple factors that influence female entrepreneur’s decisions involving risk. At the same time a better understanding of women entrepreneurs’ decisions relating to risk helps us discover multiple paths to female entrepreneurship congruent with different notions of success. The report recognizes the need to change the outcome-oriented perspective to risk which solely focuses on the degree of taking risk. Instead, it calls for a more process-oriented approach to risk, which focuses on how female entrepreneurs ‘calculate’, ‘assess’, and ‘manage’ risk under changing conditions and examines factors that influence the decision-making process including risk. It is evident from the study that women entrepreneurs make risk related decisions to sustain and grow their businesses. Taking a holistic approach to women’s entrepreneurship is essential to support the aspirations of women to start and grow their own businesses and to support the growth of the Canadian economy.

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