Gender gap narrows as Ireland tops Europe for entrepreneurs

17 Jun 2014

Paula Fitzsimons, GEM Report co-author and national GEM co-ordinator; Minster for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD; and Theresa Keady, EC Charging

Ireland is now the second most entrepreneurial of the top 15 countries in Europe, according to the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report, with increasing numbers of people, especially women, starting new businesses.

Some 32,000 people started new businesses in Ireland in 2013 and one in every 11 adults in the country are engaged in some form of early stage entrepreneurial activity, according to the GEM Report.

According to the report, there has been an increase in the rate of Total Early Stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) in Ireland in 2013 – 9.2pc up from 6.1pc in 2012. Ireland is now ranked second across the EU 15 and ninth among the EU 28 countries.

The report has found the gender gap has narrowed and not because fewer men were early stage entrepreneurs (as was the case in 2012).

In terms of new business owners the gender ratio is 1.4:1.

In terms of total early stage entrepreneurs it is 1.9:1.

While there had been concern about the pipeline of future entrepreneurs in recent years there has been something of a massive change in attitude, with 14.7pc of the population indicating their intention to set up a business in the next three years.

This is higher than EU 15 average (11.5pc) but somewhat behind EU 28 (15.9pc).

Early stage entrepreneurship is higher among immigrant groups (11pc) than it is among the non-immigrant population (8.8pc).

85pc of entrepreneurs expect to become employers

The majority of early stage entrepreneurs expect to become employers (85pc).

The number of early stage entrepreneurs that have ambitious growth aspirations and expect to employ 10 people or more after five years (22pc), compares favourably with international averages.

Thirteen per cent of early stage entrepreneurs have, or expect to have, 75pc or more of their customers in overseas markets. This is the fourth-highest rate for significant exporters across the OECD.

Irish early stage entrepreneurs are relatively innovative, with 27pc of their products/services considered new to all customers compared to their international counterparts, 17pc (OECD), 16pc (EU 28) and 18pc (EU 15).

Four out of five adults in Ireland have a high regard for successful entrepreneurs (81pc). The rate is second only to Finland (85pc) across all EU and OECD countries in this respect.

The level of perception of supportive media coverage about entrepreneurs in Ireland (60pc) remains higher that the international averages across the OECD (51pc), EU 28 (49pc) and EU 15 (49pc).

We have great entrepreneurs – just not enough of them

“As I have said before, we have great entrepreneurs in Ireland – we just don’t have enough of them,” Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said.

“Start-up businesses account for around two-thirds of new jobs created in Ireland. That is why we in Government, through the Action Plan for Jobs, have put in place measures to support more start-up activity. For example, the establishment of the Local Enterprise Offices and the new county-based competition to find Ireland’s best young entrepreneur.

“Today’s GEM report is a very welcome addition to the available data in this area. It confirms what we have been seeing across the country in recent years: that people are becoming more open to considering starting a business as a career option. I am determined to ensure that we in Government continue implementing the changes necessary to support more start-ups and ultimately to create the jobs we need.”

Bruton welcomed the further narrowing of the gender gap. There are now 1.4 times as many men as women who are new business owners.

“I am delighted to see that men and women in increasing numbers are becoming new business owners. The challenge is to ensure that their new businesses are sustainable and can compete with the best in the world both on home and export markets. That is the only basis on which they can grow and create much-needed employment.”

Declan Hughes, head of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Policy at Forfás, said there is a need to continue to improve the perceived attractiveness of entrepreneurship as a career option and ensure entrepreneurs can access sources of finance.

Commenting on the report, Tom Hayes, head of Micro Enterprise and Small Business at Enterprise Ireland said, “The GEM Report indicates that Irish early stage entrepreneurs have a stronger focus on international markets and exporting than their OCED and EU counterparts. This focus of entrepreneurs on developing innovative products and services for export is essential for growth and economic recovery.”

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years