Covid-19 disrupted the world. It sparked the sharpest global recession in recent history, upended personal and professional lives, and will forever change the way we operate. The pandemic had a disproportionate impact on women, as Goldman Sachs addressed in Empowering Women: How COVID-19 has Affected the Gender Gap.
“Womenomics" refers to the significant impact and contribution that women make to a global economy, and women entrepreneurs are a powerful piece of the puzzle. According to the World Bank, there are more than 12 million women-owned firms in the US that contributed nearly $3 trillion annually to the economy. In developing countries, women entrepreneurship is rising and there are roughly 10 million small-and-medium-sized enterprises with at least one women owner.
Women have successfully been driving commercial outcomes, but gender barriers in entrepreneurship still exist. Globally, only 1 in 3 businesses are owned by women. And according to the OECD, 5.3 percent of women are involved in business creation, compared to 7.9 percent of men. With less representation, role models, and natural networks, only 43.4 percent of women report their capability to start a new business, a confidence gap of 12.2 percent relative to men.
The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated many of the challenges that women already faced, including access to financing, industry segmentation, family commitments, and confidence. The sectors in which women disproportionately work were hurt most by the pandemic, and the tightening of capital reserves amplified the financing gap. Covid-19 also intensified caregiving challenges, as school closures meant balancing a business with full-time parenting. Together, this all chipped away at confidence.