Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of economic growth and innovation that benefits both national and local communities.

By Shonté Jovan Taylor, M.Sc., Ph.D.(c)

For most, the journey of entrepreneurship is filled with numerous challenges and setbacks, and for women, these obstacles often come wrapped in financial fears and systemic barriers that stem from deeply ingrained biases. 

There are two contrasting mindsets that shape the landscape of business ownership: the mindset of women who aspire to build successful businesses and the mindset of lenders who, more often than not, are influenced by biases that are both gendered and discriminatory.

Tale 1: The Financial Burden on Women Entrepreneurs

For women, entering the world of business ownership can be a daunting endeavor due to various financial fears that stem from societal expectations, personal insecurities and the very real gender disparities in access to capital. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2019-2020 global report, women-led businesses received only 2% of global venture capital investment. Startup rates fell by 15%, and women’s intentions to start a business declined more than men.

Financial and Fear Mindsets in Women

Fear of Rejection Mindset:

Studies in neuroscience and psychology have shown that the fear of rejection is a common emotional hurdle for women entrepreneurs. Rejection is unconsciously processed as {physical} pain in the brain. So the fear of hearing “no” from potential investors or lenders can deter women from seeking financing, stifling their business growth and innovation.

Imposter Syndrome Mindset:

Imposter syndrome, a psychological phenomenon in which individuals doubt their accomplishments and fear being exposed as frauds, is prevalent among women in entrepreneurship. These feelings of inadequacy can lead to hesitation in pursuing financial support.

Risk-Averse Mindset:

Women tend to be more risk averse than men, according to numerous studies. This risk aversion can translate into conservative financial decisions that may hinder business growth opportunities.

Borrowing Mindset:

Women often rely on personal savings and loans from friends and family to fund their startups. While these sources offer initial support, they come with financial limitations and involve smaller amounts that are not sustainable.

The Pre-Rejection Mindset:

Many women enter the entrepreneurial journey with a pre-rejection mindset, fueled by perceived biases or prejudices they may face when seeking financial backing. This mindset can deter women from pursuing funding opportunities.

Work-Life Balancing Act Mindset:

Women often face the challenge of balancing business ownership with caregiving responsibilities. This dual burden can limit the time and energy available to seek out and secure financing.

Invisibility Mindset:

The lack of women in leadership roles, venture capital firms and financial institutions perpetuates gender bias. According to {Harvard Business Review}, only 2.7% of capital-backed companies had female CEOs in 2019.

Tale 2: Unpacking The Lender and Societal Mindsets:

To effectively tackle the discrepancies in financing access for women entrepreneurs, it is imperative to comprehend the mindset of societal influencers and lenders. Paying particular attention to those who may display gender bias, sexism, ageism and prejudice is crucial.

Unconscious Bias:

Implicit biases, which are automatic and unconscious, can influence lenders’ decisions. In addition to gender bias, ageism and prejudice, studies have shown that even well-intentioned individuals may exhibit biases favoring male entrepreneurs.

Gender Role Stereotypes:

Societal expectations about traditional gender roles can influence perceptions of women’s business acumen. Lenders may subconsciously associate entrepreneurship with masculinity, leading to disparities in funding.

Familiarity Bias:


Lenders may have a natural inclination to fund businesses and entrepreneurs who resemble their own experiences and backgrounds. This can lead to a preference for male entrepreneurs among male lenders.

Risk Perception:

Research suggests that lenders often perceive women-led businesses as riskier investments. This perception can be rooted in stereotypes about women’s ability to handle financial challenges.

The Path Forward: Bridging the Gender and Mindset Gaps

To address the financial fears, challenges and barriers women entrepreneurs face, it is essential to take a multipronged approach.

Diversify Decision-Makers:

Increasing the representation of women in leadership positions within venture capital firms and financial institutions can help mitigate gender bias in lending decisions.

Education and Training:

Providing training and education programs that address unconscious bias and promote diversity and inclusion can empower lenders to make more equitable decisions.

Mentorship and Networking:

Mentorship programs that connect women entrepreneurs with experienced business leaders can provide valuable guidance and support in navigating the financial landscape.

Access to Funding Opportunities:

Governments and organizations should create and promote funding opportunities specifically designed to support women-owned businesses, such as grants, low-interest loans and venture capital initiatives.

The tale of two mindsets in the world of business ownership reveals a complex and often unfair reality. Addressing this disparity requires a concerted effort to dismantle the barriers that hold women back. Creating a more equitable and inclusive landscape for women in entrepreneurship can help overcome financial fears that no longer pose barriers to success. Closing the gaps in entrepreneurship success is not only a matter of social justice but also a fundamental economic imperative.



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