The number of women heading businesses in Belgium has increased by 12.4% over the past five years, according to data from the national institute of social security insurance for independent workers, INASTI, relayed on Saturday by the Réseau Diane.
However, the road to the top of the business ladder is not always simple, the Reseau Diane, a network that supports women in business, noted ahead of International Women’s Day.
“While business has long been a male preserve, for a few years now, more and more women have been launching out into the entrepreneurial adventure,” the network noted. “There are close to 148,000 self-employed women (all systems included) in Wallonia and Brussels. That’s not nothing, but the men are almost twice as many again.”
Some 4,000 women took part in a study conducted by the network on the experiences of women in business.
One of the first things the study shows is that there are many factors that motivate women to go into business.
“After the need to fully realise one’s professional potential, it’s the desire for independence and flexibility (a better balance between private life and professional life) and the lack of satisfaction with a wage-earner’s salary that lead the motivations.”
Another finding was that close to 40% of respondents felt it was harder for women to succeed in business. They pointed to three main obstacles: maintaining a balance between private and professional life; difficulty finding clients; and difficulty pricing their services at their true value.
“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has not helped things,” the Réseau Diane noted. “Some 70% of respondents say they have found things more difficult since the introduction of the measures against COVID-19 last March.
On a positive note, however, this situation has forced them to review their business models and adapt to the new reality. Tools they have developed to survive during the pandemic include diversifying and digitalising their services, training and acquiring new skills.
Finally, 92% of the women taking part in the study said there was a place for a women’s network in the business landscape.