REDMOND, Wash. – March 28, 2013 – At Microsoft, advocating for women in business is rooted in the corporate conscience, along with the belief in women’s power to blaze trails and shape their own destinies through entrepreneurship. In recognition of March commemorating both International Women’s Day and National Women’s History Month in the United States, Microsoft is shining a light on the stories of women entrepreneurs around the world and showcasing how technology has played a transformative role in enabling entrepreneurship.
Over the last 100 years, the upward trajectory of women entrepreneurs has been significant. Today, the proportion of the world’s sole-proprietor enterprises that are women-owned is between 20 and 40 percent. Women entrepreneurs have long fought to reach this level of representation in the world of commerce and enterprise, and they continue to fight for the continued advancement of women in business.
American Women Entrepreneurs
To explore these stories, Microsoft partnered with the U.S. National Women’s History Museum to launch a new online exhibit that examines the journey of American women who have started businesses over the last century.
Decade by decade, the exhibit explores the experience of women on their paths to economic and professional empowerment through stories, biographies and information about the socio-economic forces that have both hindered and helped this group over the last century. The exhibit also explores the pivotal role of technology in enabling women to launch and grow their business concepts, while balancing competing demands of work and life.
To add contemporary context to the conversation around women’s entrepreneurship, Microsoft commissioned a study among “new” and “established” entrepreneurs (those in business less than five years, and more than five years, respectively) to analyze the motivations, challenges and impact of technology associated with starting a business today. Among the findings was that technology has had a positive impact on an entrepreneur’s ability to launch a business: 71 percent of new entrepreneurs and 56 percent of established entrepreneurs agreed technology reduces the time needed to get a business up and running, a reality that is reflected in millions of tech-era success stories, both in the exhibit and continually unfolding around the globe.
Women Entrepreneurs Around the World
Business technologies have catalysed women business owners to carve out corporate niches and independent professional identities. For example, Natalia Dimitrova recently founded Acta Verba, a PR company based in Bulgaria. Dimitrova launched her own business because she wanted to develop her professional passion in consulting, while striking a more flexible work-life balance that allowed her more time with her children.
Dmitrova uses Microsoft technology, including Lync, Outlook and Word, for the day-to-day activities of her business. She says she chose Microsoft because of a user-friendly interface, quality and security, which ultimately enables her to complete tasks efficiently, achieve greater organization and devote more time to family and friends. “Microsoft has taught me that if one follows her dreams, success is right around the corner – it’s just a matter of time to reach that corner,” she says.
Microsoft research and conversations with women entrepreneurs have also revealed that the desire to be one’s own boss, and the associated potential for greater flexibility and work-life balance, is a leading reason women start businesses. In this context, technology is a critical asset in facilitating business communications and operations, and in bridging businesswomen’s personal and professional interests. Cloud productivity solutions like Microsoft Office 365 have facilitated the entry of many women entrepreneurs in both established and emerging markets. Removing many traditional barriers to marketplace entry, including resource constraints and lack of deep technology knowledge, cloud technology offers secure and mobile business collaboration and productivity options at a price point affordable for many small business owners. Its accessible productivity and collaboration features allow women entrepreneurs to present their concepts and operate on a level playing field with large, established competitors.
For more examples of women-owned businesses launched by technology, check out the slideshow below. Visit the Microsoft Business Hub to explore the exhibit and additional stories of female entrepreneurship, as well as find business-building resources for all small businesses and entrepreneurs.