Women Entrepreneurs are on the Rise, Making it Work in Brazil

Women run three out of every 10 small businesses in Brazil. And from 2001 to 2011, the number of women entrepreneurs in the country grew by 21.4%.

Women run three out of every 10 small businesses in Brazil. And from 2001 to 2011, the number of female entrepreneurs in the country grew by 21.4%.

This and more data were revealed in a study carried out by Sebrae in partnership with Dieese, the Yearbook of Women Entrepreneurs and Workers in Micro and Small Businesses (Anuário das Mulheres Empreendedoras e Trabalhadoras em Micro e Pequenas Empresas). Researchers analyzed gender profiles in small businesses from 2001 to 2011 to discover just how far women are advancing in the business world.

North Brazil witnessed the biggest jump in entrepreneurship rates among women, the number of women setting up a business up 80%. The Central-West region came in second with a 43% increase.

Another interesting find: it is young women who are most inclined to go the entrepreneurial route. Of the women who started a business in Brazil from 2001 to 2011, 41.3% were between the ages of 18 and 39, and 52% between the ages of 40 and 64. Moreover, 40% of them are heads of family, and 70% have at least one child. Luiz Barretto, President of Sebrae, reflected on these findings:

As business women, they can better reconcile their work with their obligations to take care of their homes and their children. Nearly half of these women are solely responsible for the education of their children, and that doesn’t stop them from starting a business with dedication.

Clemente Ganz Lucio, Technical Director of Dieese, added that much more is yet to come:

It will be necessary to have a series of other changes in public and political life with the presence of women in businesses, but the situation will also need to change at home in terms of dividing up domestic chores, childcare responsibilities and the duties of family life. Women will promote transformations in the world of men, and all of society will benefit.


EXAME laid out some of the report’s most important highlights:

  • Commerce is the most popular sector among women creating a business, with 42% of them choosing to start there. Services and Industry follow.
  • Women entrepreneurs are generally more attentive to their clients.
  • Women invest more time and effort in their education, and they seek out additional information and training at higher rates than men.
  • Attention to detail, intuition and sympathy are characteristics that help women in entrepreneurial positions manage their businesses better, especially when aligned with other traits like courage, initiative and determination.
  • Generally, women are better able to achieve a balance between their personal and professional lives than men. In fact, many women go the entrepreneurial path in order to have more flexibility with their time.

“For decades, women’s advancement in the job market has been perceived on various fronts,” observed Barretto, “and it couldn’t be any different in entrepreneurship.”