Guest blog post by: Kathy Murphy, President & CEO of the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development (CEED)
While driving home yesterday, a commentator on CBC was discussing the advancement of women in employment and education. Apparently, there are more women graduating with degrees from universities than men, and that women are also representing larger and larger percentages of the workforce. I say – Yeah!
From a small business point of view, at CEED, approximately 57% of our loan clients are women. Women business owners are continuing to dominate the small business market and consistently, numbers have been increasing over the past decade. At CEED, we’ve seen that women have been gaining ground for over five years running as the majority of start ups.
Business start ups include both home based “mompreneur type businesses” (a female business owner who is actively balancing the role of mom and the role of entrepreneur: Entrepreneur.com), to professional services outside of the home, in the fields of accounting, health care, and hospitality, etc. Many argue it’s unnecessary for a special term for mothers working from home – aside from maybe “superwoman." Mompreneurs juggling the full time job of taking care of a family and household, combined with a home based business - requires both a thick skin and dogged persistence and should never be underestimated!
We see no limit to creativity with female business start-ups. CEED clients such as Breathing Space Yoga, to Atlantic Cirque – are all great examples of women entrepreneurs who have created unique, sustainable and marketable businesses. Michelle Strum runs a business with a social enterprise focus, and at Halifax Backpackers Hostel, she encourages and supports development and employment in her community in a thriving and changing region of Gottingen Street. Driven to growth, these women have expanded their businesses and have shown lasting, staying power. Jenny Keirstead, from Breathing Space Yoga, has branched out to three locations while introducing new classes and opportunities for workshops on health and wellness with increasing demands for her services.
April Glavine’s unique and innovative company – Lean Machines –a healthy vending option for snacks and drinks- has expanded to include services nationally, to businesses and educational institutions. A healthy approach to vending food selection has proven to be a valuable service in a fast food market, and the ability for April to repurpose unused vending machines provides the important environmental link to a socially conscious - green business – a great way to build brand equity.
Some Recent Facts on Women Entrepreneurs
- Women-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment of the business sector in Canada. The number of women entrepreneurs grew by 8% between 1996 and 2001 compared with a 0.6% increase for men. Between 1981 and 2001, the number of women entrepreneurs in Canada increased 208%, compared with a 38% increase for men.
- There are more than 821,000 women entrepreneurs in Canada, who annually contribute in excess of $18 billion to Canada's economy.
- 47% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME's) in Canada have at least one female owner.
- Women-led firms provide jobs for 1.7 million Canadians-more than the Canadian Business Top 100 companies-and are creating new jobs at four times the rate of the average firm.
- In a 2004 survey, 82% of women small business owners said that if they had it to do over again, they would definitely open their own businesses.
Source - Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.
In spite of the progress, traditional barriers for female entrepreneurs still exist, and there are still many obstacles and challenges for entrepreneurs- regardless of gender. Women still shoulder a great deal of responsibility at home including household chores and family responsibilities. Managing cash flow, accessing capital and achieving a reasonable work life balance are continued stresses for women. In spite of the challenges, we continue to see resilient, social and health conscious concepts coming forth from innovative women right here in our communities. And with the progress women in business have made over the last decade, there should be excellent opportunities for women entrepreneurs in developing innovate solutions that speak to the evolving needs of a variety of consumer groups.
At CEED – we’ll continue to “bank on it!”
Kathy Murphy, MBA, CHRP
President & CEO, CEED
CEED is devoted to helping people discover and use entrepreneurship as a vehicle to become self-reliant. We have a vision of a vibrant entrepreneurial culture for all of Atlantic Canada.
We are pleased that CEED is a Greater Halifax Partnership investor.