Women’s entrepreneurship is considered to be crucial to economic growth around the world. In 2016 the share of women’s business in the world was about 36%. Let’s see how many businesswomen are in Belarus, their motives, drivers and barriers.
No ambitions and the huge burden of household duties.
In a “Women Entrepreneurs in Belarus: Characteristics, Barriers and Drivers” study experts of the Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Center (BEROC) explored major aspects that affect female entrepreneurship in the country. They include social roles, motives, decision-making process and macroeconomic factors.
Little is known about the state of women’s engagement in economic governance in Belarus.
According to the survey conducted by the World Bank, female top managers operate in around 32.7% of Belarus’ companies.
Meanwhile, 43.6% of companies have women among their owners or co-owners. However, findings turned out to be rather controversial.
Olga Kuznetsova, the EBRD representative, stresses that a large number of businesswomen doesn’t mean they take serious decisions.
“Often, they are nominal owners, who don’t even visit their companies.
It is about registering companies in a wife or sister’s name as a risk-diversification strategy.
We try to focus on those who really make decisions in the company. In that case imbalance is possible too.
For example, the chief accountant is not always perceived as a top manager,” Kuznetsova said.
Loans for business
As to getting a loan for the business, the probability of loan rejection is 55% higher for women than for men in Belarus.
On average, for every 10 men taking loans for their own enterprise, only one woman did.
The experts suggest that potentially this may be a sign of discrimination and constraints on women’s economic activity.
What spheres do they choose?
The female business in Belarus is concentrated in the sectors with the lowest value added.
Women tend to choose to operate in wholesale or retail trade, manufacturing, and medical or social services.
Trade is the most popular with 28.9% of female-owned companies being part of this industry, while manufacturing stays second (10.1%).
Trade also attracts the largest share of the male-owned companies (29.6%), next go manufacturing (23.9%) and construction (18.9%).
Stereotypes or features?
An average female-owned firm grows much slower than male-owned business.
The annual sales gain and the sales gain over the last 3 years are 4 times and 2 times smaller respectively.
The average number of employees is also smaller among female-owned companies.
On average, the owner of the male owned firm has almost 15 years of relevant working and 13 years of managing experience.
Read also: 9 sweet facts about Belarusian women
Similar characteristics for female owners are 12.8 and 9.7 respectively.
Innovative behavior changes slightly depending on the gender of the owner. 33.3% of female and 38.9% of male-owned companies have implemented innovations during the last 3 years.
The profit share due to implemented innovations equals 28.8% among male-owned businesses and just 16.4% among female-owned.
Thus, the major part of return is generated by the established business model and not the novelty.
Borsch for a business lady
Unequal distribution of household responsibilities between partners is still seen as the main obstacle hindering the influence of women in business.
According to the survey results, 40% of female and just 9% of male entrepreneurs are responsible for at least 75% of family duties.
No wonder only about 42% of women and almost 70% of men are completely satisfied with how their household duties are distributed.
37% of female and only 0.74% of male owners said that they are in charge for taking care of kids.
The same is true for the responsibility to stay at home when kids are sick.
At the same time, participants of the focus groups admitted that particularly childbirth motivated them to start their own business.
They explained it by the possibility to work from home and have flexible working hours.
Thus balancing between family and business becomes a challenge impacting career decisions of a woman.