Study reveals: government-run programs needed to foster female en-trepreneurship

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  • On the occasion of the International Women´s Day, the METRO Own Business study looks closer at the experience of female entrepreneurs across 10 countries
  • Only 12 % of women who expressed interest in starting their own business are confident they can bring these ideas to life
  • Many female business owners face stereotypes – 56% of female business owners believe women can get treated unfairly in business

The experiences of women owning a business are at the centre of the second part of the “Own Business Study”, an international study commissioned by METRO in ten countries. The study found that, while nearly one in two women (45%) dream of starting their own business, only 12% believe that they will realize this ambition. According to the study, women feel they are facing different obstacles when starting a business, among which are lack of financial support (49%), the general economic situation in their home country (43%), tax burden (29%) as well as too much bureaucracy (28%) and a lack of advice (16%). “There are still too many barriers that keep women from realizing their business ideas. This comes at a significant cost to the economic development,” says Heiko Hutmacher, Chief Human Resources Officer at METRO AG. He adds: “We hope that the results of this study help bring about a meaningful dialogue with stakeholders in business, society and politics. Understanding the barriers and finding ways to overcome them is very much necessary.”

Many female business owners also face a lot of challenges in their professional lives, such as deeply ingrained stereotypes. More than half (56%) of female business owners fear that women can be treated unfairly in business, because others assume they are less knowledgeable and not tough enough.

Respondents are undecided when asked if they believe it can be harder for women or men to establish a business: 65% of all business owners surveyed consider that both women and men can find difficulties establishing and running a business. Almost all others (32%), however, agree that it is more difficult for women to establish their own business than it is for men.

There is, however, widespread consensus with regard to the need for government-run programs to foster female entrepreneurship. 80% of those surveyed – men and women – are in favor of government programs that help female entrepreneurs to realize their ambition. “It is encouraging to see that so many people show support for new initiatives that foster female entrepreneurship. Policy-makers in particular need to take notice and put more focus on fostering female entrepreneurship,” says Heiko Hutmacher.

For the study, which looks at how people around the world think about independent businesses and how owners of independent businesses view their experience, METRO surveyed 10,000 people in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Romania, Turkey, Russia and China. It was published in the framework of METRO’s second Own Business Day, an annual global event held each year on the second Tuesday in October, that provides business owners – male and female – with extra awareness, pays tribute and supports them in building relationships with their customers.


METRO is a leading international specialist company in wholesale and food retail. The company operates in 35 countries and employs more than 150,000 people worldwide. In financial year 2016/17, METRO generated sales of approximately €37 billion. The company provides custom solutions to meet the regional and international needs of its wholesale and retail customers. With its sales brands METRO/MAKRO Cash & Carry and Real and as well as delivery services and digitisation initiatives, METRO sets the standards for tomorrow: for customer focus, digital solutions and sustainable business models.