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Press Release from 2014-09-15 / Group

More and more female start-up activity!

  • The percentage of females founding their own businesses reaches a new record high.
  • Self-employment offers women with children the chance to return to working life.
  • Start-up projects by women are just as sustainable as those set up by men.

In 2013, a record percentage of women set up businesses in Germany: 43% of all new businesses (around 376,000 of around 868,000 start-ups) were founded by women. The percentage of full-time start-ups was lower at 33% than that of part-time start-ups, which was close to 50%. "Just one third of male founders had at least one child, compared with almost half of the female founders. A greater percentage of women were not working before they started their project. Self-employment, even as a part-time venture, clearly offers many women an opportunity to combine family and work", says Dr Jörg Zeuner, Chief Economist at KfW, about the results of a special analysis conducted by the KfW 2014 start-up monitor about female start-up activity. More women than men are motivated to set up their own business out of necessity: 58% of male founders have the desire to implement an innovative business idea, compared with just 46% of female founders. On the other hand, 35% of women indicated that they chose to set up their own business due to a lack of alternative employment options, whereas this was true for just 26% of men.

Further key results of the study:

  • Almost half of all female business founders set up in the personal services sector (e.g. physiotherapy, freelance teacher). Whereas self-employed males focus more intently on commercial services (e.g. software development, tax consultancy and legal advice).
  • This goes hand in hand with considerably lower financing requirements. The percentage of female business founders who have used financial resources is 61% and is almost as high as the percentage of men. However, 71% of them require less than EUR 5,000, compared to 47% of men with the same financing need.
  • Women encounter funding difficulties just as often as men (19% versus 15%).
  • Women in full-time ventures spend considerably less time on their activity than men (around 42 hours per week compared with 54 hours per week).
  • In comparison with men, women set up less frequently in a team (19% of women, 28% of men) and rarely have employees (16% of women, 28% of men).
  • Even taking all the obvious differences into account, the monthly turnover for female full-time founders is around EUR 6,000 lower than that of their male colleagues.

"Women obviously pursue a conservative growth strategy. Working time and turnover are considerably lower. This may be due to private needs such as caring for children. However, this does not have any influence on the long-term viability of their company: female founders do not terminate their projects more often than men, and with regard to the long-term survival of their projects they are just as successful", affirms Dr Jörg Zeuner.

Note: The results are published in the focus "Female founders are catching up — self-employment as a way towards professional activity". The analysis is based on data from the KfW start-up monitor, a representative annual population survey relating to start-up activity in Germany.


Portrait von Sonja Höpfner


Sonja Höpfner

Press Office KfW Capital

+49 69 74 31 32 66