How women-led business can overcome the barriers to going global


Businesswoman at laptop - women entrepreneurs

Businesswoman at laptop - women entrepreneurs

Despite a growing focus on women’s entrepreneurship, studies show that women-led businesses still face many challenges. In Canada, only 10% of high-growth firms are owned by women and about 8% of women-owned businesses export. The numbers tell the story, for example, research from PayPal Canada and Barraza & Associates, shows that women-owned businesses “earn $68,000 less on average, than men who run similar businesses.”

While there is a growing understanding that full and equal participation of women in the economy is good for everyone, there’s no doubt that it’s a complex issue on multiple fronts. What is clear however, is that the stakes are high: the implications are that “across all small businesses in Canada, bridging the gap in earnings of women and men entrepreneurs could unlock an additional $88.2 billion for the Canadian economy.”

We wanted to find out more about how women entrepreneurs can overcome the barriers to success and grow their business. We put this question to a panel of experts in a live #TradeElite Twitter chat and uncovered plenty of valuable insights from multiple viewpoints: bankers, women in business, lawyers, consultants and international business experts.

Moderator: Nicole Chevrier, Content Marketing Specialist with FITT (@FITTNews)

The Panelists:

Shannon Pestun (@shannonpestun), Director, Women’s Entrepreneurship at ATB Financial, based in Calgary, AB

Sara Haq (@HaqCast), Founder & Principal of SH International LLC, based in Washington, DC

Jennifer Diaz (@CBPAttorneyJen), Board Certified Customs & Int’l Trade Law Expert. Founder of Diaz Trade Law, President of OWIT International

Frida Owinga (@FridaOwinga), OWIT International Vice President of Chapter Development, and founder of Passion Profit, business breakthrough coaching for small and growing businesses, based in Nairobi, Kenya

Marcela Mandeville, CITP (@MsBrightIdea), Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), based in Alberta

Audrey Ross (@tresAudrey), international business expert, Orchard Custom Beauty, based in Toronto, ON

Miriam Lopez Arbour (@MiriamLopezArbo), Global Affairs Canada, based in Ottawa, Ontario

What is different about women-led business or women’s entrepreneurship vs the status quo – are there differences?

Only 10% of high-growth firms are owned by women. According to Victoria Lennox, Co-Founder and CEO, Startup Canada, women-led businesses have high-growth ambitions but systemic gender barriers encourage women-led businesses to stay small – would you agree and why?

What resources are available for women who might be wondering if exporting is a viable option? Where should they start?

Let’s talk about accessing capital: In an interview with Forbes, Vicki Saunders said that less than 4% of venture capital goes to women and that it doesn’t seem to be changing and could be getting worse – would you agree? And why?

What about more traditional financing? Women entrepreneurs are less likely to seek debt and equity financing and are more likely to be rejected or receive less money. What might be driving that?

Beyond financing, one of the barriers seems to be confidence – do you think this is accurate?

How can women secure more access to resources such as mentoring, networking and skills building?

Read the rest of the chat and join future discussions by following the #TradeElite hashtag. And stay tuned for the next #TradeElite chat, coming up Thursday, January 24th at 2:30-3:30 PM ET, and if you haven’t yet, join us on Twitter at @FITTNews.

About the author

Author: Nicole Chevrier

I am a digital media writer and a Content Marketing Specialist with the Forum for International Trade Training (FITT). My background is in digital marketing and communications. Creating content that inspires, informs or delivers on results is my passion.

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