8, January 2019 – Blog #18
Women’s Entrepreneurship in Alberta – World-beaters
Alberta has the highest rate of women’s entrepreneurship in Canada. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Alberta shows that 15.5% of Alberta women aged 18-64 are involved in starting a business. This is higher than the rate for Canada as a whole (13.3%) and higher than all other innovation driven economies including the US, Australia and the UK.
Who are these entrepreneurs? They are highly educated, with most having a university or college education, many with graduate degrees. Their ages vary, with entrepreneurship rates peaking in the 18-34 and 55+ age categories.
What do they do? Most (almost 70%) of their businesses are service based, evenly split between business services and consumer services. The next largest category (at 19%) is “extractive” businesses, such as mining, oil, and gas and agriculture, and the balance is manufacturing. This profile is quite different from that of Canada as a whole, where consumer services is by far the largest sector (at 41%) and extractive businesses are half the Alberta rate. The top six sectors are government/education/health; agriculture; professional services; manufacturing; retail; and finance/insurance/real estate.
Why do they do it? Most women entrepreneurs state that their business is to purse an opportunity, although 25% do so out of necessity. The necessity rate is almost twice the Canadian average. The report also provides detailed information on motivation. The main reasons women start a business are independence, a positive work environment, a flexible schedule, and the ability to work from home.
What impact do they have? Most women led businesses are smaller than businesses led by men. Over one quarter of women entrepreneurs operate as solo entrepreneurs with no employees. 7% of women led businesses have created more than 20 jobs. This compares with 10% of businesses led by men. In terms of future job growth, 17% of women led enterprises expect to create 20 or more jobs in the next five years.
How innovative are they? About 30% of women led businesses in Alberta claim to have a new product, process or new market, compared with 33% of businesses led by men. Both of these numbers are lower than the Canadian average.
Do they export? 26% of women led businesses in Alberta export, compared with about 30% for businesses led by men. Both of these numbers are lower than the Canadian average. Canada as a whole ranks highly by this measure, being #3 globally for exporting.
How satisfied are the entrepreneurs? Most women entrepreneurs in Alberta say they are satisfied with their work. The highest ratings for satisfaction are related to having decision making autonomy over how work is accomplished, and doing work that is personally meaningful. The lowest ratings for satisfaction relate the level of work stress, the growth trajectory of the business, levels of income and work related stress.
What challenges do they face? Women entrepreneurs face a number of challenges in Alberta, despite their overall very positive situation. Many women entrepreneurs report dissatisfaction with the annual growth rate of their businesses, and the degree of innovativeness. Although there are a number of programs aimed at growth oriented women entrepreneurs in Alberta, it would appear that more needs to be done. A quarter or women entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs because they have to be, not because they want to be (i.e. necessity based entrepreneurs). This suggests that other factors are involved, such as a weak labour market, difficulty accessing training, or problems finding flexible job opportunities. Women entrepreneurs are underrepresented in lucrative, innovation sectors such as knowledge intensive business services and scientific and technological sectors.
As report author Karen Hughes notes, in recent years Canada has become increasingly recognized as a leader in women’s entrepreneurship. This report provides plenty of evidence to support that conclusion.
The full report is available at THECIS GEM 2018