I have been researching female entrepreneurship for over 15 years have been frustrated by the fact that very limited comparative data exists that allows us to identify the strengths and weaknesses of female entrepreneurship development worldwide because ‘knowledge is the first step towards improvement’ allowing for concerted action and benchmarking progress.
In studying female entrepreneurs it is important to look at individual characteristics, access to resources and the institutional environment. Gender blind research that assesses the business environment such as the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, does not capture the specific additional impediments in terms of social attitudes and norms that affect attitudes as well as aspirations towards entrepreneurship, laws that differentiate between men and women and more limited access to key resources for women. In sum, not acknowledging the gendered realities in which female entrepreneurship develops does not mean it does not exist.
Another major impediment to comparative research on female entrepreneurship has been the dearth of reliable data. New datasets like the World Bank’s Global Findex Database and the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law provide gender specific data on previously under-researched areas such as access to basic financial resources (i.e. ‘access to a bank account’) and equal legal rights. However, many data gaps still exists.
A few months ago, with generous support from Dell, we embarked on creating the ‘Gender-Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI)’ – the first diagnostic tool that comprehensively identifies and analyzes the conditions that foster high potential female entrepreneurship development. The Gender-GEDI focuses on a specific subset of female entrepreneurs, which we refer to as ‘high potential’, female entrepreneurs: women business owners who own and operate businesses that are ‘innovative, market expanding and export oriented’. The initial pilot analysis, focusing on 17 countries representing a variety of regions and economic development contexts including Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom and the United States.
The unique methodology used to construct the Gender-GEDI, adapted from the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI) brings together variables that measure individuals and institutions in a composite index that highlights issues relevant for high potential female entrepreneurship development and growth. Thirty individual-level and institutional-level dimensions are paired together into 15 pillars that are further divided into three main sub-indices: Entrepreneurial Environment, Entrepreneurial Eco-System and Entrepreneurial Aspirations.
As the Gender-GEDI Project Director, I will be presenting the results of the Gender-GEDI at Dell’s DWEN event on June 4, 2013 in Istanbul Turkey.
Stay tuned for the results!!! .