The brief identifies six trends driving change for women’s entrepreneurship.
Promoting gender equality in response to the COVID-19 pandemic could add USD 13 trillion to global GDP by 2030 compared to a gender-regressive scenario.
The brief presents nine recommendations for countries, companies and the international community to ensure a resilient, sustainable future that takes into account gender-specific roles and needs.
The International Trade Centre’s (ITC) SheTrades initiative released a brief that highlights the key role of women in ensuring a full, sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The brief presents nine actions to ensure that pandemic recovery unlocks women’s entrepreneurship and results in more equal and sustainable societies.
The report titled, ‘Women Entrepreneurs: An Action Plan to ‘Build Back Better,’’ shares insights from governments, businesses, and women’s economic empowerment networks on how COVID-19 has reshaped global value chains and policy landscapes. The brief identifies six trends driving change for women’s entrepreneurship: changing consumer demand; digitalization; supply chain diversification; fragmentation of the trade and investment landscape; role of government to support small businesses; and growing momentum to build back better.
The brief considers different scenarios for supporting women’s entrepreneurship, and illustrates the potential outcomes of taking action as opposed to not tacking action. If action is not taken, for instance, the lack of financial and technical support from governments will result in many women-led businesses closing down, and families might revert to more traditional organization systems if there is no support or policies around childcare, which could reinforce gender roles and stereotypes. Conversely, if actions are taken, women-led businesses could play a greater role in contributing to gross domestic product (GDP) and driving economic recovery and social development: promoting gender equality in response to the COVID-19 pandemic could add USD 13 trillion to global GDP by 2030 compared to a gender-regressive scenario. Further, action could ensure COVID-19 becomes a catalyst for accelerating gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in all regions of the world.
The brief presents nine recommendations for countries, companies, and the international community to ensure a resilient, sustainable future that takes into account gender-specific roles and needs, organized by actor. For corporations, the brief recommends:
- Increasing women’s participation in corporate supply chains, including considering preferential schemes for women suppliers, providing incentives to supplier to include more women in their supply chains, and partnering with organizations with certified women suppliers;
- Employing flexible supply chain financing options, such as encouraging the use of a supply chain financier and agreeing to competitive interest rates, and providing asset-based financing and bank guarantees for women-led enterprises; and
- Providing targeted training for women-led businesses, such as tailored training for women-led businesses in logistics and standards and delivering gender responsiveness and diversity training to suppliers.
For policymakers, the brief recommends:
- Supporting women’s access to finance and financial services, through creating incentives mechanisms for the private sector to lend to women, providing assistance with financial literacy and investment-readiness, and considering a gender-lens investing approach to address inequalities;
- Boosting women’s participation in public procurement opportunities, by ensuring tender information is clear and accessible in a timely manner, using available data to reach out to women entrepreneurs, and developing gender-responsive public procurement policies; and
- Promoting solutions for continuity of business, including offering a bailout package with allocations for women-led firms, creating incentives so small women-led companies avoid layoffs in hard-hit sectors, and supporting digitalization of women-led businesses.
The international community can:
- Strengthen global cooperation, through monitoring the impacts of trade measures, ensuring response policies are fair and inclusive, and renewing commitment to women empowerment;
- Drive change for women through Women 20 (W20), such as by developing comprehensive gender-inclusive policy frameworks, setting goals to track progress on women’s economic participation, and investing in women’s access to and participation in technology; and
- Supporting digital literacy and use of digital technologies, including by providing digital skills training for women entrepreneurs and fully integrating gender equality in digital strategies and initiatives.
Political leaders from Australia, Canada, Chile, the Gambia, South Africa, and Spain share their visions for unlocking the power of women entrepreneurship, including specific actions and recommendations based on their country’s experiences. The brief concludes that these actions will ensure that the post-pandemic economy and society maximize opportunities for women entrepreneurship and achieve greater sustainability and resilience.
SheTrades published the report in collaboration with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), UPS, and Women 20. [Publication: Women Entrepreneurs: An Action Plan to ‘Build Back Better’] [Report Landing Page] [SheTrades Report Page] [ITC Press Release]