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Women Entrepreneurs Worldwide Embrace Technology

Women 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 Owners (NFWBO).

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 country's
economic outlook.

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 Mondiales (FCEM).

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 important") include:

  • maintaining business profitability (100 percent)
  • finding and keeping quality employees (95 percent)
  • managing cash flow (88 percent)
  • obtaining more training in business management issues (81 percent)

The top external issues affecting the growth and development of women-owned businesses internationally (ranked "very important" or "extremely important") include:

  • government business laws and policies (86 percent)
  • the state of their country's economy (81 percent)
  • gaining access to technology (79 percent)
  • access to capital for business growth (79 percent)
  • development and expansion of infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, electricity, and phones (74 percent)
  • political instability (70 percent)

The 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 of FCEM.

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