I’m back from my adventures in Nepal and I’m faced with two very contrasting messages in the UK media. One article in the small business section of the Sunday Times on 7th March caught my eye. Lord Davies is proclaiming that we must find “more start up queens” as he states that women could shake up our enterprise culture. I was wondering as an aside whether he’s been quietly reading Enterprise Britain. He bemoans the lack of women starting businesses versus our sisters in the US who make up a much greater percentage of entrepreneurs and the lack of female directors in UK board rooms. He’s also agreed that the venture capital industry needs to be more vibrant – hip hooray!.
As an aside there is a huge need to address the funding need that women may have to start businesses without incurring the huge legal, accounting and deal costs that are so endemic in the venture capital industry. These fees deter a lot of women and indeed men from looking at these sources of finance. I can testify from my own experience that costs amounting to more than £37,000 were incurred when using venture capital which deters investment deals of anything less than £200-300,000 as these fees make up such a huge percentage of the total deal size.
However on the other side of the globe we have a far more menacing threat in the form of the gender time bomb as we learn in the Economist on March 6th that more than 100 million baby girls that should have been born have over the last few years have quietly slipped away. This creates a sorry future for millions of men across China and South Asia without a prospect of a wife and family, upon which the very fabric of society rests. Whereas the natural birth rate should be in the ratio of around 106 boys to 100 girls it is as unbelievably high as 275 boys to girls in certain parts of Beijing. So whilst the West are welcoming women to take a more active role in business, other countries are quietly killing off baby girls. It’s not all doom and gloom as parts of South Korea have seen their high ratios decline due to greater education however this issue is not confined to poor families and is even found in Asian communities across the US. A study also concluded that there is a connection between higher sex ratios and crime which caused about one seventh of the rise in crime in China.
If we consider that China and India will become one of the two most important global trading partners what will the “gendercide” currently happening here due to the nature of global business in the future? Who will those future, “minority business women” from these markets look to when the cards are stacked so much against them in the new world order if we do not address this critical issue? How will this gendercide scupper the well laid plans of those in the West to encourage more women entrepreneurs to take advantage of export opportunities when they are likely to be facing a very polarised society in their export markets. If I had a crystal ball or if I was Faith Popcorn I would be considering the likely impact of these long term trends. Your thoughts and comments warmly welcome.