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An interview I did about 6 weeks ago popped up in the papers last weekend. In the Australian. It’s titled Australian businesses run by women hit China barrier. Read at your own risk.
But wait, there’s more…
I had said the earlier post was the final part of the Women in Global Business trilogy, but, like George Lucas, I couldn’t help myself.
I realised I hadn’t highlighted our findings about Australian businesswomen’s motivations to internationalise.
The most common motivation (56% of owner-operators, 62% of women employed in strategic roles) for internationalisation was the proactive pursuit of new markets. The next most frequent triggers were reactive: responding to approaches from foreign clients, following key customers and other unexpected opportunities.
Owner-operators were considerably more likely to be reactive than their more proactive employed counterparts. We argue this suggests a greater proactivity and confidence among Australia’s female entrepreneurs may come from the facilitation of better international networks for Australia’s aspiring global entrepreneurs, with government agencies a key avenue.
To read more about these motivations, see page 33 of our second WIGB report.
Here concludes the trilogy of findings from our latest Women in Global Business report. There are two sets of findings I want to highlight.
China’s rise: The international markets most frequently identified by the Australian businesswomen we surveyed as the most important market were China (34%), the USA (23%), and the UK (7%). China was more frequently cited as most important (36%) for the more experienced organisations (those operating internationally for over five years). China has jumped considerably since our first survey (from 18% to 34%). This year we also asked about the most important region and Asia was ranked #1 by just over half (52%) the women.
For more on China, see p.32 of the report.
The challenges of global expansion: Australia’s businesswomen have confronted, and overcome, a number of hurdles in their internationalisation efforts. Among the most substantial barriers we identify are: the high $A, difficulty locating a suitable distributor, red tape issues in establishing foreign operations, a lack of resources to cover the investment timeframe (especially relative to the costs), and a lack of alternative sources of capital.
Women running their own international organisations consistently rated these impediments as higher than the senior female employees (the exception was on the currency risk front). This is symptomatic of the large differences in access to resources, networks and information for these two groups of women.
This second annual survey allows us to track the progression of a subsample of the women from the first survey. Almost two thirds (63%) of the women who had indicated an intention to expand the number of countries in which their business operated had achieved this goal in 2014.
Doing business abroad has not got easier however. As these women expand their businesses into new locations, they continue to encounter issues that hinder growth. On almost all of the 31 issues we track across the survey, the respondents report the barrier to be causing more or similar hindrance to 12 months earlier. The only two to drop noticeably are cultural differences and the perceived risks of losing money selling products or services abroad.
The barrier that has most consistently increased is lack of alternative sources of capital. In this second annual survey we specifically investigate financing challenges which emerged from the inaugural survey as particularly salient for Australian businesswomen in the international arena. We find that most internationalised women‐owned organisations rely primarily on personal savings and reinvested profits to fund expansion. Only 21% of the owner-operators had attempted to borrow to fund internationalisation, and of these attempts, only 27% were successful. Only 10% of respondents regarded ease of accessing finance as easy or very easy, while 55% rated it difficult or very difficult.
Almost two fifths (39%) of the internationally engaged owner-operators felt that gender made a difference to their access to finance. This number was considerably higher (52%) for female owner-operators who were yet to internationalise. This does point to an often underplayed constraint to ongoing international expansion of women-owned Australian organisations.
Our report identifies a number of opportunities to nurture and assist Australia’s businesswomen in their international efforts. We offer promising evidence of the positive impact of mentoring in reducing barriers and building confidence, and a clear appetite for greater access to mentors. Programs such as WIGB are ideal mechanisms for increased sharing of information, contacts and lessons from successful counterparts, the building of skills and capacity, networking, and as a forum for offering specifically targeted policies and interventions.
To read more, see the report.
As I mentioned yesterday, our latest Women in Global Business Report has hit the streets. It’s chock full of findings about the progress and experiences of Aussie businesswomen in the international arena, and they ongoing hurdles they face.
While my earlier post focused on female Aussie entrepreneurs, the report also offers insights into the experiences of Australian women playing major roles as senior employees with strategic responsibilities in international businesses.
Just over a quarter of these respondents are members of the C-suite within their organisation. These women are younger (only 18% were 50+), and even more highly educated (90% hold a bachelor degree or higher) than the owner‐operators.
Their organisations tend to be much larger – 43% have 500+ employees – and are older and more experienced overseas.
We contend that some of these women may become the next generation of Australian international entrepreneurs, as they are currently building the sets of requisite skills for such transitions. Their rise within organisations also reflects the welcome growing presence of senior women in corporate Australia.
Read more here.
Tomorrow, I profile the rise of China, and also the hurdles Aussie businesswomen still face when internationalising.