International Research Shows Australian Women Lead the Way in Businesses

New research paints a rosy picture of the state of entrepreneurship in Australia, and points to Australian women as being the most entrepreneurial in the world.

The research, compiled by the Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship (ACE) in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), indicates that last year 10 per cent of the Australian adult population was involved in setting up or owning newly-founded businesses.

ACE Associate Professor Paul Steffens said Australia was second only to the United States in this regard.

“Out of the 23 developed countries surveyed, the US came up trumps with just over 12 per cent with Australia a close second at 10.5 per cent. Even more encouraging is that fewer of these new Australian businesses were born out of necessity – 15 per cent – compared with more than 21 per cent for the US,” he said.

“This is very encouraging and indicates that Australia has been weathering the global financial crisis well.

“Most new businesses started to take advantage of a perceived lucrative business opportunity with only about a fifth started out of a lack of alternative options for work.

“This is significant because it points to a culture of genuine innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Professor Steffens said 19 per cent of those 2000 businesses surveyed intended to grow their businesses and employ more staff over the next five years.

“This sort of optimism places Australia higher than average when compared with other developed economies,” he said.

He said the research results were particularly interesting in relation to women in business.

“With 7.8 per cent of adult women involved in setting up a new business or owning newly founded businesses, Australia ranks number one among developed economies.

“What’s interesting too is that Australia is the only developed economy where men and women are participating virtually equally in this endeavour.

“Australian women put their stronger than average success in new business ventures down to their skills levels and the high media attention for entrepreneurship in Australia which provides them with successful role models.”

Professor Steffens said while having 500,000 women entrepreneurs painted a healthy picture of access to business opportunities for Australian women, businesswomen were still under-represented in the workforce in growth-oriented industries such as mining, manufacturing, finance and IT and this probably accounted for their propensity to start new businesses in service industries.

“Having more women training and employed in these traditionally male-dominated industries would have a significant positive impact on the creation of additional business opportunities for women,” he said.

“The research also shows that while more male entrepreneurs were intending to export their products or services over the next five years, both male and female Australian entrepreneurs were lagging behind the international surveyed average on this account.”

For more information access the GEM 2011 Global Report and the GEM 2010 Women’s Report.