Inspiring inclusion for women’s business empowerment

According to the OECD’s ‘The Missing Entrepreneurs 2023’ report, which explores inclusion gaps in entrepreneurship, women make up the largest group of ‘missing entrepreneurs’ in OECD countries, representing almost three quarters (73%) of the untapped economic  potential if entrepreneurship were to be harnessed equally across populations.

Similarly, those women who are business owners fall behind their male counterparts when it comes to scale, ambition and profit, with women being less likely to run high-growth-potential businesses or businesses that employ high numbers of staff.

Realising the potential of women entrepreneurs isn’t just beneficial for gender parity, closing the gender gap in entrepreneurship could have significant impacts on national economies too. For example, the OECD estimates that if the gender gap in business were closed in Canada it would increase its GDP by 6%.

Despite their huge potential, systems and societal norms often create barriers that prevent women from starting or growing businesses. The most common barriers include self-perceived fear of failure, skills gaps, limited networks, and difficulties accessing finance.

It’s crucial to break the cycle and inspire inclusion for women in business. This International Woman’s Day (IWD), we must double down on our efforts to ensure gender parity in business. This starts at the beginning, by supporting young women to become entrepreneurs.

At YBI, we know that specialised support aimed at addressing the specific barriers women entrepreneurs face works. Through our programmes such as our Revolving Loan Fund in Kenya, funded by Standard Chartered Foundation, and our COVID-19 Recovery Programme for social entrepreneurs in Korea, supported by Google.org, we are helping to create a generation for change where women can shift biases and inspire inclusion for more women in business.

However, there are still billions of women globally who need more support to access business opportunities and change must come from the top.

At YBI, we are calling for:

  • increased support for inclusive youth entrepreneurship generally,
  • specialised quality support for women, particularly in green and social youth entrepreneurship,
  • governments and financial institutions to reduce the barriers around access to finance for women.

Whilst more needs to be done, International Woman’s Day is a moment to celebrate and put a spotlight on young female entrepreneurs who inspire us to drive the YBI global network to continue to pursue its ambition of creating a million jobs through the start-up and growth of 250,000 youth-led businesses. 

Women like Purity Gakuo who was supported by our Kenyan member Somoto grow her business: Purity was born and raised in an off-grid community in Kenya where most people depend on fishing to earn a living. One of the problems affecting the area was a lack of affordability and availability of cold storage – meaning many fishers lost large proportions of their catch before they could sell it.

Purity’s business Kuza Freezer which manufactures and provides portable solar-powered cold storage is particularly innovative as it’s based on a unique pay-as-you-go model, making it affordable to a wider range of customers. Purity’s long-term goal is to scale up her business operations and set up at least 10 distribution channels in Kenya.

Read Purity’s inspiring story here and please join us this IWD to #inspireinclusion for women’s business empowerment.

Other Resources

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Breaking personal and structural barriers for women’s entrepreneurship


Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs


Those who make it possible

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Argidius Foundation

Argidius Foundation

JPMorgan Chase & Co

JPMorgan Chase & Co