Women-owned Exporting Small and Medium Enterprises

This report presents an analysis of majority women-owned, equally owned and men-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that export. Prior research found that women-owned SMEs were underrepresented amongst exporters. The implications are that businesses owned by women would not benefit as much as the other businesses from the opportunities international trade offers. However, the proportion of women-owned SMEs that export dramatically increased between 2011 and 2017 nearly completely closing the export participation gap. Two factors are identified as having contributed to this important change. First, women’s enterprises tend to be smaller, but a rising number of businesses with 1 to 19 employees exported in 2017 compared to 2011. Second, women-owned SMEs are now better represented in industries prone to exporting. As such, the export gap has significantly narrowed. Nonetheless, the entrepreneurial gap persists, women-owned SMEs still represent less than 16 percent of all SMEs, and a small gap was identified in the proportion of revenues from exports between women-owned enterprises and other firms.

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