Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs reveals three in ten Australian businesses are owned by women

SYDNEY – March 6, 2017 – Ahead of International Women’s Day, Mastercard reveals the results of the inaugural Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE), ranking Australia among the top ten countries in the world in which women entrepreneurs are thriving. As part of the ongoing effort to continually understand and track women’s progress and achievements in the business world, the MWIE has been designed to identify which factors and conditions are most conducive to closing the gender gap among business owners.

In Australia, women’s progress as business leaders, professionals and technical workers is above average among high income economies. In fact, the score is among the top few innovation-driven (most developed) economies for female entrepreneurship participation. This high result is due to Australia’s overall quality of entrepreneurial activities, support from the government and access to financial services. Additionally, support from society in terms of positive attitude and media coverage showcasing successful role models for prospective women entrepreneurs are strong enablers in Australia.

Australian women surpass men in terms of tertiary education enrolment: for every 74 men enrolled in a tertiary institution, there are 100 women doing the same. However, perhaps what stands out the most is that a significant proportion of the Australian population (45.7 percent) not only has a keen eye in identifying opportunities for new business start-ups, they also possess the confidence and positive mindset in their capacity to do so (46.8 percent).

“These statistics demonstrate how women have developed a keen eye for opportunity and highlight that many feel encouraged to explore entrepreneurial activities. Fueling the foundation of personal and economic growth is an area of focus at Mastercard, through our Girls4Tech education program and sponsorship of the Women in Payments® Symposium. Both initiatives aim to inspire, engage and celebrate the success of women,” said Karen Lee, Head of Strategy at Mastercard Loyalty Solutions Asia Pacific.

Although men still dominate the new business startup space, women aren’t far behind, representing 39.3 percent of Australia’s entrepreneurial community. With International Women’s Day’s theme, Be Bold for Change, this will undoubtedly be an area of focus in the coming years.

Key Findings

  • The top ten countries allowing women to flourish in business include New Zealand, Canada, United States, Sweden, Singapore, Belgium, Australia, the Philippines, United Kingdom and Thailand.
  • 3 out of 10 Australian business owners are women.
  • 7% of Australian women are actively seeking out opportunities for new business startups.
  • 8% of Australian women are confident and have a positive mindset about seeking new business opportunities.
  • Of the 1.9 million Australians who are engaged in starting new businesses, 39% are women.
  • A breakdown of the study also reveals strength in most indicators, placing in the top 10 countries for High Quality of Governance, High Ease of Doing Business and Positive Cultural Perceptions of Women Entrepreneurs.


The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs tracks female entrepreneurs’ ability to capitalise on opportunities granted through various supporting conditions within their local environments and is the weighted sum of three components: 1) Women’s Advancement Outcomes (degree of bias against women as workforce participants, political and business leaders, as well as the financial strength and entrepreneurial inclination of women), 2) Knowledge Assets and Financial Assets (degree of access women have to basic financial services, advanced knowledge assets, and support for small and medium enterprises), and 3) Supporting Entrepreneurial Conditions (overall perceptions on the ease on conducting business locally, quality of local governance, women’s perception of safety levels and cultural perception of women’s household financial influence).

The index uses 12 indicators and 25 sub-indicators to look at how 54 economies across Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, North America, Latin America and Europe, representing 78.6 percent of the world’s female labor force, differ in terms of the level of Women’s Advancement Outcomes, Knowledge Assets & Financial Access, and Supporting Entrepreneurial Factors.

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA),, is a technology company in the global payments industry.  We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.  Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.  Follow us on Twitter @MastercardAU, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

Mastercard Communications Contact

Saynaree Oudomvilay, (02) 9994 4435