经济和社会

Held Back by Role Models? – Women Entrepreneurs in Germanyen

The German business landscape is getting more female all the time: Currently, one in four business owners is a woman. Yet women’s potentially huge entrepreneurial contribution is far from being fully tapped - the basic framework in Germany tends to be discourage women in their efforts to start companies. KuBus investigates whether this doesn’t have something to do with the persistence of traditional role models.

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Author: Kirsten Kummer
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We talk to women who have successfully established their own companies, even in male-dominated business areas. We hear about their experiences as business owners, the difficulties of starting up a company and the challenges of combining both career and family aspirations.

While in the 1970’s there was a woman behind only one in five new businesses, today that number has risen to nearly 30%. Still, according to the “Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2003” (GEM), which has collated comparative statistics on the founding of new businesses world-wide since 1999, Germany ranks only 29th out of 31 countries moni-tored when it comes to the support women receive in starting new businesses. The top slots in the rankings are held by Asian countries, such as Thailand and Hong Kong, as well as the Scandinavian countries.

In this light, it seems a necessary and reasonable step to provide spe-cial support measures for female entrepreneurs in Germany. At the beginning of 2004, the Federal Ministries for Education and Research (BMBF); Family, Senior Citizens, and Youth (BMFSFJ) and for the Economy and Employment (BMWA) joined together to launch a new agency catering especially for female entrepreneurs. Numerous offers specifically aimed at women looking to start their own businesses nationwide are gathered together under the roof of this single federal agency (www.gruenderinnenagentur.de). Here, relevant information is collected and presented in response to specific client needs.

Over 3 million euros have been earmarked to finance this new service provider until 2007. With this collaborative effort, the federal government hopes to increase women’s share in starting up new businesses. Female entrepreneurs, and those aspiring like to join their ranks, can get the specialized consultation they need from the agency. Currently around 12 % of working men make a go at starting their own businesses; the quota for women is about half so high. Only one in four new businesses is started by a woman. In technology oriented start-ups the share of women is only about 10% - 15 %. The agency’s central, Germany-wide hotline for female business owners consults and facilitates contact to women experts and gives information on coaching opportunities throughout the country. In addition, the agency collates gender-specific data regarding starting a company, which is then made available to the general public.

The double burden of family and business life, too little support from partners, difficulties in dealings with the bank: Numerous obstacles crop up along a woman’s road to entrepreneurial success. The special thing about the consultation services for women is their holistic approach.

The client’s entire situation - personal, family and financial - is taken into account. Much of what is on offer is free of charge. In many cases, special services are also available tailored to the needs of those on the lower end of the economic scale – the unemployed or low-wage earners - who nevertheless have entrepreneurial aspirations. Furthermore, consultancy services aimed at women also provide information and contacts in regard to traditional programs and services in the area of company start-ups in general.
Goethe-Institut e. V. 2005
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