business leaders from around the world are optimistic about
their business prospects and their country's economies, according
to recent surveys by the National Foundation for Women Business
Eighty-four percent of the women entrepreneurial leaders surveyed
expressed optimism about the outlook for their businesses
over the next two years; 65 percent are optimistic about their
The surveys, sponsored by IBM, were conducted at two international
conferences of entrepreneurial leaders of women's business
associations: one was organized by the Center for International
Private Enterprise (CIPE); the other by Les Femmes Chefs d'Enterprises
Surveys were completed by 43 women business owners from 14
countries: Australia, Canada, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana,
Italy, Malta, Mexico, Namibia, Paraguay, Senegal, South Africa,
Uganda, United States.
"Women's entrepreneurship is expanding around the world. The
growing economic power and influence of women-owned businesses
are changing the shape of the global economy," said
NFWBO Director of Research Julie R. Weeks. "Research into
the challenges and contributions of women business owners
is thus of increasing importance."
Studies have shown that women-owned firms comprise between
one-quarter and one-third of the businesses in the formal
economy, and are likely to play an even greater role in informal
sectors. Technology is playing an important role in the growth
and development of women-owned businesses internationally.
"Fully 83 percent of the women participating in the surveys
currently use computers in their businesses," said Cherie
Piebes, Global Market executive, Women Entrepreneurs, IBM.
"As the economic clout of women-owned firms increases and
women entrepreneurs continue to embrace technology around
the world, IBM will support research and offer technology
solutions to this important market segment."
International business opportunities are also playing an increasingly
important role for women business owners around the world.
Four in 10 (39 percent) of the women business leaders surveyed
are currently involved in the international marketplace. This
is a relative trend; 47 percent of them have only become involved
in international trade within the last year.
Among those not yet involved in importing or exporting, nearly
half (48 percent) say they will be likely to do so within
the next three years.
This recent research also shows that the primary concerns
of women business owners internationally are a blend of day-to-day
internal business management issues and external factors.
The top business management issues facing women business leaders
(those reporting the issue to be "very important" or "extremely
maintaining business profitability (100 percent)
and keeping quality employees (95 percent)
cash flow (88 percent)
more training in business management issues (81 percent)
top external issues affecting the growth and development of
women-owned businesses internationally (ranked "very important"
or "extremely important") include:
business laws and policies (86 percent)
state of their country's economy (81 percent)
access to technology (79 percent)
to capital for business growth (79 percent)
and expansion of infrastructure, such as roads, bridges,
electricity, and phones (74 percent)
instability (70 percent)
National Foundation for Women Business Owners (NFWBO) is a
nonprofit research and leadership development foundation.
NFWBO is recognized as the premier source of information and
intelligence on women business owners and their enterprises
by corporations, policy makers, financial institutions and
the media. Up-to-date intelligence about women business owners
and their enterprises worldwide is documented in NFWBO's original
research and analysis. NFWBO is affiliated with the National
Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), which is a member