What Percentage of Women are Business Owners in 2024? A Global Analysis

As a small business consultant who assists entrepreneurs in starting and growing their companies, I‘m often asked – what is the breakdown of men vs. women business owners globally? Which countries have the highest rates of women‘s business ownership? And are more women turning to entrepreneurship as a career?

To shed light on these questions, I analyzed the latest research on women business ownership worldwide. The data reveals a complex story of progress and challenges in achieving gender parity across countries and income levels.

The State of Women’s Business Ownership Globally

  • Women own over 30% of all businesses worldwide as of 2022 (Source)
  • Women’s entrepreneurship rates are growing faster than men’s in several economies (Source)
  • But gender inequality persists – women are still less than 50% as likely as men to run established businesses in most countries (Source)

So while progress is being made in women’s business leadership globally, there’s still a considerable gender gap in most nations.

Percentage of Women Business Owners by Country Income Level

A country‘s income category (high vs lower income) strongly predicts women‘s business ownership rates:

High Income Countries

  • 54.4% of sole proprietors in Austria are women (Source)
  • 46.3% in Estonia and 40.2% in Sweden (Source)
  • The average for high income countries is 34.5% (Source)

Lower Income Countries

  • In Afghanistan, just 2.8% of sole proprietors are women (Source)
  • Algeria 6.6%, Nepal 13.8%, Mauritania 10.6% (Source)
  • The average for low income countries is 15.7% (Source)

This breakdown highlights a strong correlation between national income and women’s business leadership – likely driven by legal, social and educational gender gaps in developing nations.

Growth Trends in Women Entrepreneurship

The rate of women starting businesses is accelerating faster than men’s in many economies:

  • Women‘s entrepreneurship increased 10% globally from 2018-2021, compared to just 5% for men (Source)
  • In Latin America, women‘s TEA (early-stage entrepreneur) levels rose 21% vs. 17% for men from 2010-2018 (Source)
  • In Europe, women‘s TEA rates grew 3% annually vs. 1% for men in 2017-2020 (Source)

So while a gender gap persists, women’s business leadership today is growing faster than men‘s in much of the world.

Barriers Facing Women Entrepreneurs

Despite recent progress, women entrepreneurs still face greater barriers, like:

  • Less access to startup financing – women founders receive just 2.3% of VC dollars globally (Source)
  • Systemic biases make it harder for women business leaders to scale up (Source)
  • Household duties and childcare often still fall mainly on women

Tackling these roadblocks will be key to empower more female founders globally.

As a consultant dedicated to assisting small business owners, I help women navigate these hurdles – securing financing, building professional networks, and maintaining work/life balance. Supporting women to start and grow their ventures not only promotes gender equality but also stimulates economic growth for whole societies.

Data shows women‘s business leadership lifts economies. So this issue deserves more attention worldwide.