Getty Images 465757635 (1)
Women in business

Women in social enterprise: "We face obstacles, but feel empowered"

11 April Apr 2016 1315 11 April 2016
  • ...

In 2015, the European Women's Lobby launched WEstart: a study of 1000 women social entrepreneurs in 10 EU countries. The results of the study reveal that many women social entrepreneurs began their businesses because of a personal experience, and their social enterprises are in the vital fields of healthcare, social services and education.

Mary, like many women social enterpreneurs, started her business because of a personal experience. Her sister has a disability, and Mary realised that there was a lack of job training and opportunity for people with disabilities in her community. She opened a restaurant staffed by people with disabilities, and now her social enterprise employs 6 full-time staff.

Women across Europe have been reshaping the business landscape, by starting social enterprises that have as their core mission helping their society and communities, rather than simply turning a profit.

As a result, WEstart: Mapping Women's Social Entrepreneurship in Europe was launched in September 2015 by the European Women's Lobby (EWL) and the Fondation d'Enterprise CHANEL, as the first research project on women's entrepreneurship in Europe. Some of the results of the study are now in, and can be seen in the video linked below.

Some key findings were that "while women reported experiencing gender discrimination, they ultimately felt empowered by their social business, and felt that they were contributing to gender equality in their community and society at large."

Some of the biggest obstacles to women starting social business were found to be a lack of time - as many are caregivers to children or the elderly - and lack of access to financing.

According to the EWL "This study has taken an important first step in understanding the dynamics of social enterprise led by women. The more we know about women in social enterprise, the more their voices can help shape the discussions and dialogue that shape policy".

Photo credits: Getty Images

Related news