2015 Female Entrepreneurship Index Press Release

2015 Female Entrepreneurship Index Research Shows More Support Needed to Enable Female Entrepreneurship Development Worldwide

  • The United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom named top three places for female entrepreneurs
  • Globally:
    • The percentage of female entrepreneurs who are highly educated has increased 9%
    • The percentage of business gazelles (those who intend to grow their businesses by 50% and employ 10 people within 5 years) among female entrepreneurs has increased 7%
    • The percentage of female businesses that are in the tech sector has decreased 19%
    • Among female businesses innovativeness has decreased 13%
  • The 2015 Female Entrepreneurship Index is the most comprehensive diagnostic tool for high potential female entrepreneurship
  • The 2015 Female Entrepreneurship Index contains 77 countries, expanding upon the 30 countries in its predecessor – the Gender GEDI

Reykjavik, Iceland – June 18, 2015 – The Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute today announced the results of the 2015 Female Entrepreneurship Index (http://thegedi.org/download/11536/) revealing that female business owners are on average more educated and more growth oriented than the previous year.

Now in its third year, the Female Entrepreneurship Index (formerly known as the Gender GEDI) is the world’s most comprehensive diagnostic tool that measures high potential female entrepreneurship by analyzing entrepreneurial ecosystems, business environments, and individual aspirations across 77 developed and developing economies. Spanning multiple regions, FEI provides a systematic approach that allows cross-country comparison and benchmarking. The goal of the research is not to provide a headcount of female entrepreneurs worldwide, but rather to serve as a future-oriented tool to guide leaders, policymakers, and law-makers in identifying country-wide strengths and weaknesses and in developing strategies to create more favorable conditions in their countries to enable businesses founded by women to thrive.

“We are excited to launch the results of FEI at WE 2015. FEI’s findings clearly indicate that there are systematic gaps around the world in terms of how well countries support women’s inspirations to start high-growth-oriented firms. In Iceland, we are pleased to be ranked 7 in the world for best environment for high-growth women entrepreneurs, but we have more work to do to grow our country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says Halla Tomasdottir, Founder & CEO of Sisters Capital and Chair of Inspirally WE 2015

  • The United States ranks first in the world again at 82.9, eight points ahead of 2nd-ranked Australia (74.8).
  • This year, the UK, Denmark, and the Netherlands climbed into the top five, displacing Sweden, France, and Germany. All six of these European countries have strong ecosystems for female entrepreneurs, so even small changes can result in year-to-year rank shifts.
  • 47 of 77 nations still score below 50 points – an indication that these countries must pursue significant changes in order to reduce barriers for female entrepreneurs.
  • Chile outperforms the rest of Latin America and ranks #15 – among the top nations in the world for female entrepreneurship.
  • Many Latin American countries saw large declines over last year; Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and Panama all dropped by at least 5 ranks.

”The Female Entrepreneurship Index is an excellent tool to benchmark countries’ entrepreneurial ecosystems for hih potential female entrepreneurship. We can clearly see that countries with greater levels of economic freedom have greater levels of high-potential female entrepreneurs.” – Dr. Siri Terjesen, FEI Project Director

The FEI names the following countries in its top ten for female entrepreneurs:

Rank Country Score
1 United States 82.9
2 Australia 74.8
3 United Kingdom 70.6
4 Denmark 69.7
5 Netherlands 69.3
6 France 68.8
7 Iceland 68.0
8 Sweden 66.7
9 Finland 66.4
10 Norway 66.3


The analysis reveals opportunities for improvement within several geographic regions.

  • Europe can improve Opportunity Recognition – whether women recognize good opportunities to start a business in the area where they live
  • Latin America can improve Export Focus – female entrepreneurs that have at least some customers outside the country
  • Sub-Saharan Africa can improve Access to Finance – women’s access to bank accounts and financial training programs
  • East Asia can improve Skill Perception – whether women believe they have the required knowledge and skills to start a business

About the Female Entrepreneurship Index

The 2015 Female Entrepreneurship Index includes 77 countries. The Index focuses on high potential female entrepreneurs who are defined as ‘innovative, market-expanding, and export-oriented.’ The Index combines variables that measure agency and institutions in a composite index in order to capture the multi-dimensional aspects of female entrepreneurship development. Data comes from existing internationally recognized sources such as the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), World Economic Forum (WEF), World Bank, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Labour Organization (ILO), etc. The GEDI Institute is a research and consulting organization based in Washington, D.C. that assists governments, donor agencies, foundations, international assistance providers, and global companies expand economic opportunities for individuals, build future markets for societies, and propel economic development for nations. It uses an innovative methodology to advance entrepreneurship, thereby accelerating economic growth.


The Female Entrepreneurship Index’s unique methodology brings together variables that measure individuals and institutions in a composite index that highlights issues relevant for high potential female entrepreneurship development and growth. Thirty individual-level and institutional-level dimensions are paired together into fifteen pillars that are further divided into three main sub-indices: Entrepreneurial Environment, Entrepreneurial Eco-System, and Entrepreneurial Aspirations. The novel Penalty for Bottleneck methodology is applied to the pillar scores so that the ‘bottleneck’ (i.e., pillar with the lowest score) penalizes the final country ranking. This approach encourages countries to address their weakest areas first since it will have the greatest effect on their final score.

About the authors: Female Entrepreneurship Index Project Director Siri Terjesen has been conducting comparative research in entrepreneurship, as well as issues of gender and the labor market,  for over fifteen years. She has published her research on entrepreneurship, strategy, and gender in leading journals, with press coverage in US News & World Report, Times (London), CNBC, and other media outlets. She is Associate Editor at both Academy of Management Learning & Education and Small Business Economics, and is on the faculty at Indiana University and has been a Visiting Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Economics in Germany as well as Lund University’s School of Management and Economics in Sweden and Catalyst in New York.

GEDI Global Operations Coordinator and FEI project manager Ainsley Lloyd holds a Masters of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and a Bachelors in Economics from the University of Arizona. She specializes in environmental and development economics, with expertise in composite indices and social and environmental indicators. She serves as project manager for the Female Entrepreneurship Index project and manages web and print media for the GEDI Institute.