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Mastercard ranks Israel as best country for female entrepreneurs

In 2020 index, Israel rises from fourth place last year; report says that women globally have borne the brunt of the pandemic

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

An illustrative image of working women (iStock by Getty Images).
An illustrative image of working women (iStock by Getty Images).

Mastercard has ranked Israel as the best country for women entrepreneurs, for the first time in the four-year history of the rankings by the global payments firm.

In the 2020 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) Israel rose to first place from fourth in 2019.

The US, Switzerland, New Zealand came in second, third, and fourth this year, followed by Poland, the UK, Canada, Sweden, Australia and Spain in the ranking of 58 global economies.

Israel jumped to first place this year thanks to an increase in its support for small and medium-sized businesses, jumping 41 places in this category, the report said. The country has set out to double the number of its female entrepreneurs within two years, and is rolling out funding and networking initiatives to do so, the report said.

“Women across the world have been disproportionally impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic – a staggering 87% of women business owners say they have been adversely affected,” Mastercard said in a statement, announcing the ranking. “Over representation in sectors hardest hit by the economic downturn, the pronounced digital gender gap in an increasingly virtual world, and the mounting pressures of childcare responsibilities are only a few factors that have left women particularly vulnerable.”

Even so, Mastercard said, the pandemic has also showed how women have been able to lead under extraordinary circumstances, citing female leaders such as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister Sanna Marin of Finland, who “have presided over some of the most successful efforts in containing Covid-19 while instilling order, assurance, trust and calm.”

“Leveraging this momentum and championing gender-specific initiatives will be critical to realising women’s potential and winding down the $172 trillion lost globally due to the differences in lifetime earnings between women and men,” the report said.

Representing almost 80 percent of the international female labor force, the MIWE provides an analysis on the socioeconomic factors propelling and inhibiting their success.

The index’s methodology involved an analysis of 12 indicators and 25 sub-indicators, including Advancement Outcomes, Knowledge Assets and Financial Access, and Supporting Entrepreneurial Conditions.

Aggregating these scores, the index offered an overall grading of how successful individual economies are in advancing female entrepreneurship. This year’s report also provided additional analysis on the early ramifications of emergency measures implemented by governments and business for women entrepreneurs in response to the coronavirus pandemic across 40 global economies.

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