Susanne Grossmann, a Swiss national with extensive experience in private-sector financing in emerging markets, recently shared her insights on the challenges facing women in business during an interview. She primarily focuses on private equity and lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and works for Finance Contact, a firm with a mandate from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs to co-finance startups in emerging economies via the SECO Startup Fund (SSF). The SSF provides long-term loans to establish private companies in emerging economies and create quality jobs, as well as to demonstrate how businesses can be run in a socially and ecologically responsible manner.

Challenges Faced by Women Entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs face various challenges in emerging markets, including balancing their family responsibilities with their business ventures and lack of confidence. The legal system in many countries also prevents women from inheriting or owning land, making it challenging to provide collateral. Building a successful business necessitates resilience and the ability to adapt to changes and challenges.

According to Susanne, women are often neglected in business opportunities because men possess the "I can do attitude," which gives them a natural advantage. In contrast, women must work harder to develop this attitude, making it challenging to compete in the business world. Additionally, the financial system is biased against women, who are perceived as having less confidence and are less capable than men. This perception is reinforced by the legal system in many countries, where women are prohibited from inheriting or owning land, making it difficult to obtain collateral for loans.

To address these issues, Susanne believes that women require more support and relief from specific responsibilities to succeed in business. Women often prioritize their family duties over their business ventures, but with more support, they can achieve success in both areas. Education plays a critical role in changing perceptions of women's roles in society, emphasizing that raising a child and making a home is the responsibility of both parents, not just the mother's.

Importance of Women's Empowerment

Empowering women entrepreneurs has a positive development effect on the wider community and country, according to research. However, women entrepreneurs receive only a small fraction of funding in impact investor space, public development cooperation, and private development cooperation. Women entrepreneurs require a conducive environment to thrive and grow their businesses, necessitating the government and financial institutions' involvement in creating such an environment.

Access to finance and training and mentorship programs are two ways to empower women entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs have limited access to finance due to collateral requirements, lack of financial literacy, and discriminatory practices by financial institutions. Governments and financial institutions can make financial services more accessible to women entrepreneurs by offering low-interest loans, credit lines, and other forms of financial support. Training and mentorship programs can help women entrepreneurs acquire the skills and knowledge they need to start and grow their businesses.

Susanne's interview provides valuable insights into the struggles of women in business, the importance of resilience in building a successful business, and the factors to consider in impact investment. As we strive for gender equality in business, it is critical to recognize and address these challenges.

watch the full interview here

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