Women’s enterprises: slow but more solid recovery after the pandemic

Women on the rise in leadership positions: +93 thousand compared to 10 years ago. The Tour of Italy of women doing business is underway

Economy - published on 16 November 2021

Source: Unioncamere press office
Rome, 15 November 2021 – The birth of women’s businesses is showing signs of recovery, but the pandemic is still weighing on women’s desire to set up their own business. However,
the difficult economic situation is leading to more conscious and meditated business choices, which could also be partly linked to the growing presence of women in the leadership roles of
companies, with 93,000 more women directors than 10 years ago.
As data from the Observatory on Female Entrepreneurship of Unioncamere and InfoCamere show, the registrations of new female businesses in the first nine months of 2021 are more numerous than
those registered in the same period of 2020
(+7 thousand) but are still about 9,200 fewer than in the same period of 2019. Despite the increase in registrations between 2020 and 2021, the
weight of women’s new businesses in total registrations has fallen by almost two percentage points, from 27.1% two years ago, to 25.4% last September. However, almost 24% of these new businesses
led by women were set up as joint stock companies, a type of company that is more structured and ‘robust’ in terms of organisation and management.
This scenario and the difficulties that women’s companies are facing with the health emergency are the background to the appointments of the Tour of Italy of women doing business, the itinerant
initiative, promoted by Unioncamere with the Committees for female entrepreneurship of the Chambers of Commerce, which starts today from Rome and will visit
Chieti-Pescara and Verona (18 November), Milan (24 November), Arezzo-Siena (3 December), Bergamo (10 December) and Turin (15 December).
New enterprises: slower recovery for women
The South is the area of the country that records the highest number of new female enterprises (22,500) in the first nine months of 2021. In these regions, the percentage of business
registrations led by women out of the total number of new enterprises is close to or above 26%. This is followed by the North West (more than 16,000 businesses set up in the period), but with a
lower percentage incidence (23.7%).
The almost 12,000 new women’s businesses in the North East and the over 14,000 in the Centre represent 24.8% and 26.3% respectively of the total number of registrations.
Compared to the pre-Covid era, there were almost 3,300 new businesses in the South, 2,300 in the Centre, 1,900 in the North West and 1,700 in the North east.
The comparison with the 2020 data shows, however, a recovery in the desire of women to do business that is higher in the North West: in these regions the registrations between January and September
2021 compared to the same period last year are almost 2,500 more, while in the Centre they are +1,700. The South (with +1,600 new female businesses) and the North East (+1,300) show a somewhat
slower recovery.
New female businesses more solid and growing in high performance sectors
Although the pandemic has slowed down the growth rates typical of female businesses, it has also led to the creation of more solid and structured activities in the form of limited companies. The
latter, in fact, account for 23.6% of total registrations by women, compared to 23% in 2021 and 22.6% in 2020, and are particularly present (and more consistent in percentage terms) especially in
Central Italy, where there are about 4,300 and they account for almost 30% of new businesses led by women.
Confirmation of the slow but progressive organisational strengthening underway in the world of women’s production also comes from the growth in the share of companies led by women that now operate
in the five best-performing sectors in terms of value added/employee ratio (manufacturing, other industries in the strict sense, information and communication services, financial and insurance
activities, and real estate activities). This share has risen from 16.3% in 2014 to 16.9% in 2021, with significant differences between the Centre-North (where women have a greater tendency to work
in these sectors) and the South (where they work in more traditional sectors).
Women at the top on the rise. But more than half are over 50
In fact, the growing structural and market reinforcement of female entrepreneurship, visible both in the short and medium term, seems to go hand in hand with the increasing presence of women in
corporate leadership positions. Between 2011 and 2020, the number of women directors increased by 93,000 and also grew in percentage terms, from 23.2% to 24.4%. The number of women directors today
is just under 1.140 million, compared to 1.50 million 10 years ago.
However, the average age of women in the “control room” of companies is increasing: while in 2011 43% of female directors were over 50 years old, by the end of 2020 the over-50s will number 58%.

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