Siri Terjesen, Ph.D. for the National Women’s Business Council
First published February 2017
This review focuses on women’s engagement in social entrepreneurship and is motivated by mounting anecdotal evidence that women are drawn to mission-based initiatives and firms and that women’s pursuit of social entrepreneurship can be an important engine for the economy, particularly in the United States. The review first presents existing knowledge about characteristics of male and female social entrepreneurs and their ventures and then offers findings from the world’s preeminent source of global, harmonized data on social entrepreneurship: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). Specifically, the review examines evidence from the most recent GEM study on the prevalence of social entrepreneurship among men and women in the United States and globally. The review then briefly examines social entrepreneurship policy in the United States and national institutional support mechanisms for social entrepreneurs. A conclusion summarizes recommendations for policy and future research. This report augments other initiatives focused on women entrepreneurs such as “Getting to Success: Helping women business owners gain access to capital: A study of best practices in access to capital training programs for women business owners” by the NWBC (2002) and “Access to capital for high-growth women-owned businesses” (Coleman & Robb, 2014) and the many available online resources (see, e.g., SBA, 2017).