Start up stats for women.

How Start-up Stats

Differ for Women, between

Canada and the U.S.


By Christine Davison


Women entrepreneurs have long been major players in the North American economy, but if you are a woman in business, some playing fields are easier to win in than others.

According to American Express, there are over 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States. North of the border, according to the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), "There are more than 821,000 women entrepreneursÖwho annually contribute in excess of $18 billion to Canadaís economy."

These numbers add up to about the same amount of women in business per capita within each countryís borders, with Canada having a small lead, but RBC adds that in Canada, "4 out of 5 businesses are started by women." In the United States, there is still enormous growth with women-centered businesses; however the American organization Women in Business states that women only account for 47% of new business start-ups.

What might be some of the reasons behind the difference?

One issue repeatedly highlighted is the lack of programs for American families that require help taking care of children or older relatives, thereby putting caretakers at a disadvantage.

According to the government funded Womenís Employment Initiative and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities agency, Canada has a diverse and plentiful supply of such services, making it easier for women to become self-employed. There are even government schemes to hire help if need be, at little to no charge to lower income start-ups, allowing them to become more established. Such programs are practically nonexistent in the USA, though they are highly sought after, according to the US Governmentís Small Business Association.

American women and Canadian women are nearly neck-and-neck when it comes to smaller businesses and being self-employed, but is it easier to be a small business owner if you are a woman, in Canada or in America?

According to The Global Banking Alliance, "Canada is a global leader in womenís entrepreneurship (GEM, 2000). The participation rates of Canadian women business owners are comparable to those in the United States and higher than those of other leading nations such as Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand (Brush, Carter, Gatewood, Greene, & Hart, 2006)." The report continues, "Öfemale entrepreneurial activity in Canada is also higher than in Germany, France, U.K., Italy and Japan."

Elizabeth Stock, an American born in Canada, and who has worked on both sides of the 49th parallel, explains the differences your address can make.

"Iíve created and run a handful of things over the years. Iíve worked as a vintage VW mechanic and an alternative fuels engineer, as well as now doing more creative things like jewelry design, and itís much harder to make a go of it, here in Florida than it was in Nova Scotia.

"The US has a serious issue with credit, which makes it harder for a woman to get started with a small business. In the US women also can be pushed into small business. Families have to have two bread winners now, but it seems to me like itís only the women who are expected to have their work revolve around their home and family responsibilities. I find this to be the case in the US, especially.

"On the positive though, there are many more doors opening for home-based work than ever before. I know women who are running two or more things at once out of their back doors; flower shops, gift shops and hair salons are now being taken over by graphic designers, web designers and multi media specialists as they find other things they can do from home."

This isnít to say that American women arenít doing well, because in fact, they are. American women are the single, fastest expanding group of entrepreneurs in the US at the moment, responsible for a ninth of all American business and growing stronger every year. Letís say instead then, that if youíre a woman with your own business, living the American dream might be just a little bit easier for you and your family, if youíre living in Canada.



Story appears in

HobbyFirm Magazine

Volume 1., Issue 1


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