Ownership, Entrepreneur-ship, and Investment

Businesses founded, owned, or led by women are vital to realizing inclusive and sustainable economic growth worldwide.[1] Fostering women’s entrepreneurship is not simply a matter of justice and equity, but also sound economic policy: by one estimate, $28 trillion would be added to global GDP if women and men participated in the economy at equal rates.[2]

There are three key factors contributing to the gender gap in women’s businesses: First, due to patriarchal structures enshrined in societies and judicial systems, many women worldwide still lack property rights. An OECD report estimates that women own less than 15% of the world’s land; 123 countries have laws or traditional practices limiting the ability of women to claim and protect their land assets.[3] Without personal property ownership, women are stripped of financial and personal agency and do not have the collateral necessary for acquiring loans. Second, women entrepreneurs experience significant barriers to public and corporate procurement opportunities, including limited access to networks, information, and training. Third, women lack equal access to capital in the venture market, and women are significantly underrepresented within Venture Capital (VC) firms.[4] In order to close the gender gap in women’s entrepreneurship, it is critical to develop policies and advocate practices that provide women with the same access to ownership and investment.

[1] This report uses the term “women’s business” broadly to indicate any business founded, owned, and/or led by women.

[2] McKinsey Global Institute, The Power of Parity: How Advancing Women’s Equality can add $12 trillion to Global Growth, 2015.

[3] OECD, SIGI 2019 Global Report: Transforming Challenges into Opportunities, Social Institutions and Gender Index (Paris: OECD Publishing, 2019): 117.

[4] Simone de Bruin and Marta Munoz, European Women in VC: Analyzing the Role and Importance of Women as Cheque Writers and Start-Up Founders (IDC European Women in Venture Capital Report, 2022): 3.

Our Experts

Chiara Corazza

Chiara Corazza (Italy) has spent the past 42 years developing successful and purposeful international initiatives in the private and public sectors, including efforts to accelerate gender equality. She was Director of International Affairs of the Greater Paris Region, and she later led the Greater Paris Investment Agency. Ms. Corazza has served as CEO and Special Representative in several G7 and G20 councils.

Caroline Farberger

Caroline Farberger (Sweden) is a partner and board chair at the venture capital firm Wellstreet. She has spent 25 years working in the financial services industry, most recently as CEO of ICA Insurance. Ms. Farberger is an advocate for diversity and inclusive leadership in business.

Zarifa Ghafari

Zarifa Ghafari (Afghanistan) is an activist, broadcaster, and defender of women rights in Afghanistan and beyond. She established the Afghan Women Development and Help Foundation to advocate for women’s inclusion in the Afghan National Army. Ms. Ghafari also served as the first female mayor to the Maidan Wardak province in Afghanistan. 

Alexis Ohanian

Alexis Ohanian (USA) is a tech founder and venture capitalist. He is author ofnational bestseller, Without Their Permission, and co-founder of Reddit, one of the largest websites in the U.S., currently valued at more than $10 billion. In 2020 he founded Seven Seven Six, a new firm built like a technology company that deploys venture capital with over $750 million assets under management. In 2022 he launched the 776 Foundation to support marginalized individuals and announced a $20 million commitment to climate action through his new 776 Fellowship Program. Ohanian is also an advocate for paid family leave and the lead founding investor in Angel City Football Club.

Chetna Sinha

Chetna Sinha (India) is the founder and chairperson of Mann Deshi Bank, India’s first bank for and by rural women, as well as the founder of the Mann Deshi Foundation. In addition to serving as the co-chair to the World Economic Forum in 2018, Ms. Sinha has participated in the W20 and is a member of the BRICS Women’s Business Alliance. In 2018, she was awarded the Nari Shakti Puraskar—India’s highest civilian honor for women.

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