Women, Entrepreneurship and the Opportunity to Promote Development and Business

Editor’s Note: This brief is part of the 2013 Brookings Blum Roundtable Policy Briefs, which details the role of the private sector in the post-2015 development agenda. Read the full policy brief here.


Female entrepreneurship represents a vast untapped
source of innovation, job creation and economic
growth in the developing world. The barriers to women’s
entrepreneurship are various: Women face greater
obstacles in accessing credit, training, networks and
information, as well as legal and policy constraints.
The World Economic Forum shows little progress in
narrowing the economic gap between women and
men. Yet not all is lost! Innovative initiatives to promote
women’s entrepreneurship—driven by both the
private and public sectors—are on the rise. 

This brief provides an overview of the global landscape
of women’s entrepreneurship. It aims to demystify the
challenges that women face in accessing finance, and it
highlights some of the typical challenges regarding capacity-
building programs targeted at women entrepreneurs.
Above all, this brief focuses on potential solutions
and enablers by drawing on practical experiences
from the public and private sectors in both emerging
and developed markets. It concludes that innovative
partnerships, particularly when private and public sector
entities are involved, are beginning to make a dent,
with the potential for large-scale impact. Those who
embrace women’s entrepreneurship as an opportunity
are likely to reap the rewards in new market opportunities
and higher development impact.