Riaz Mamdani discusses importance of supporting Alberta’s woman entrepreneurs
Alberta has an entrepreneurial culture, more so than any other province in Canada. The growth and success of entrepreneurial businesses are absolutely critical to the economy – these businesses need to be able to not just survive – but thrive. According to Industry Canada, more than 98 per cent of the country’s 1.2 million small and medium businesses have less than 100 employees, yet they employ nearly 70 per cent of the Canadian workforce. When businesses with 100 to 499 employees are included, small and medium businesses employ almost 90 percent of Canadians in the private sector. These entrepreneurial businesses span multiple industries, from tech firms to the energy sector to tourism to restaurants and professional services.
Calgary based entrepreneur and CEO, Riaz Mamdani, who has founded numerous businesses including Strategic Group, one of Western Canada’s largest commercial real estate companies, believes strongly in supporting entrepreneurships, as entrepreneurs are innovative. Mamdani explains: “Entrepreneurs lead businesses not only drive economic growth but also make our communities stronger.”
At least half of Canadian small and medium businesses are owned or partially owned by women, a number which continues to grow. Riaz Mamdani believes that women lead organizations are important to support because of the accelerated economic impact they create. For example, one in five women come into self-employment from unemployment compared to about one in fifteen for men. This means that a single new woman entrepreneur has triple the impact to the unemployment rate than a male entrepreneur.
In addition, Mamdani notes that research indicates businesses run by females are more innovative than businesses run by men. “Businesses run by women are more likely to use new technology and more frequently provide a product or service that is new to the market. These types of innovations are important and can create a ripple effect in terms of opportunities in both industry and the community.”
Another reason to support women entrepreneurs involves education levels and the rate in which they grow their businesses. Riaz Mamdani explains, “About 24% of self-employed women have a degree or equivalent, compared to 18% of self-employed men. Research shows that highly qualified, educated entrepreneurs grow their business at a faster rate, meaning women are more likely to grow their businesses at a faster rate than men.”
Many books like [amazon template=product&asin=193475904X] support the idea that many of the barriers women face in starting or growing a business are the same as those often faced by any start‐up, small business or growth–oriented enterprise. However, women tend to have greater challenges in the growth phase of their business.
A recent report commissioned by a Western Canada community agency found that expanding an existing business can prove difficult for female entrepreneurs. The study, “Women Entrepreneurs: Financing Opportunities for Growth”, highlighted the two main challenges women entrepreneurs face when trying to grow their companies. The first pertains to access to financial capital. When women go to a financial institution seeking a business loan, they are more likely to have little or no credit history as well as little or no business assets. This can be a barrier to securing financing. However despite this, women are more likely than men to pay a business loan off, if they are able to qualify for one.
The other main challenge faced by women entrepreneurs trying to grow their business, is that despite higher education levels these business owners can sometimes have less entrepreneurial capital – the skills, knowledge, networks and experience relevant to launching and growing a business – than male-business owners. While most cities have programs through associations and chambers of commerce that can help develop these skills and resources, many women entrepreneurs do not know about or take full advantage of these development opportunities.
Riaz Mamdani hopes that Strategic Group’s support of women entrepreneurs, through organizations such as Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, will help lessen some of these challenges that women face when starting and growing their businesses. By supporting women entrepreneurs in Alberta, Mamdani believes both the economy and community see huge positive impacts. “Our support ensures both local small and medium sized businesses have the resources they need to grow, innovate and positively affect our communities, which is a win for everyone.”