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Female Entrepreneurship and Scale Up Activity in the Nordic Countries

Entrepreneurship is considered to be one of the key drivers for economic growth. Yet, the share of women entrepreneurs in many of the Nordic countries continues to be low, especially for women entrepreneurs within high-growth industries. This is true also for Finland, which has the highest share of women entrepreneurs among the Nordic countries. A lower willingness to take risks and in which industries women establish businesses may explain why they are underrepresented among high-growth companies.

The Nordic countries are viewed as forerunners on gender equality and women’s labour force participation. Nordic Innovation’s new study shows that there are far fewer women than men starting businesses in the Nordic countries and there are clear differences in the share of female entrepreneurs across the Nordic countries.

”Female creativity and entrepreneurial potential are an under-exploited source of economic growth and job creation that should be further developed. In the Nordics we need to learn more about why there are fewer women who choose entrepreneurship than men and how the Nordics can aspire to achieve more diversity. We hope the report will increase knowledge about the barriers and what encourages women to realise their entrepreneurial ambitions and how to even out the differences. Further we wish for it to contribute to the development of Nordic initiatives that can stimulate more women to start their own businesses”, explains Trine Moa, Senior Administration Adviser at Nordic Innovation.

To explain the low level of female entrepreneurs in the Nordic countries, and especially the low number of high-growth companies established by women, the report found several factors which make it difficult for female entrepreneurs to succeed, and especially to establish high growth companies. In the following,

  • Women have less access to role models and smaller networks, which makes them less likely to innovate
  • If the entrepreneurial culture is male dominated it is difficult for women to succeed
  • Female entrepreneurs have less access to external funding than male entrepreneurs, which makes it difficult for them to expand
  • Framework conditions are especially important for enabling female entrepreneurship
  • Female entrepreneurs are at risk of being especially hardly hit by COVID-19

To kickstart the discussion, Nordic Innovation will together with Innovation Centre Iceland, Vinnova, Innovation Norway, Business Finland, Erhvervstyrelsen and Vækstfonden host the webinar Growth Opportunities – Women Entrepreneurship in the Nordics. The webinar will take place on 16 June 10.30 – 11.45 CEST.

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Further information about the study and the webinar:
Menon Economics is responsible for the content of the study, commissioned by Nordic Innovation.

For more information please contact Marthe Haugland and Trine Moa below.

About Nordic Innovation

Nordic Innovation aims to make the Nordics a pioneering region for sustainable growth and works to promote entrepreneurship, innovation and competitiveness in Nordic business.

Nordic Innovation support programs and projects which contribute in fulfilling the goals of the Cooperation Program for Innovation and Business 2018-2021 which is decided by the Nordic Ministers for Business and Innovation.

Nordic Innovation is an organization under the Nordic Council of Ministers.


Marthe Haugland - Senior Innovation Adviser

Marthe Haugland

Senior Innovation Adviser
Marthe combines her international experience with her knowledge of business development and innovation to promote Nordic cooperation within the circular economy. She belives Nordic cooperation can drive the systemic change and give Nordic companies a competitive edge going forward.

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Trine Moa

Trine Moa

Senior Adviser Strategy and Governance
Trine has more than 14 years of experience working with strategic planning, developing and implementing methodology and tools for results management, evaluation and learning, with an innovative and solutions-oriented approach to her work.

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