Survey: The pandemic hit women-owned businesses harder 

A new global survey of small business owners shows they’ve grown more optimistic about the future but still need government help. It also shows that women-owned businesses have suffered disproportionately during shutdowns, Inc. reports. 

In May, Facebook began conducting monthly surveys of small and midsize businesses that have Facebook pages. The surveys, done in collaboration with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Bank, asked about business closures, workforce reductions, and government aid, as well as leaders’ domestic responsibilities, their overall optimism, and other topics. More than 25,000 business leaders responded each month, totaling more than 150,000 respondents in more than 50 countries. 

Here are some of the key findings from the sixth survey, conducted in October and released this week: 

The smallest businesses have struggled to survive—About 29% of respondents were micro-businesses, or those run by just one person. The report states that these businesses were more likely than their larger peers to have suffered a 50% or greater drop in sales compared with 2019, and were more likely to have closed in a given month

Women-owned businesses have suffered more from lockdowns—Women entrepreneurs were most affected by the stay-at-home orders issued early in the pandemic, because they were more likely to run “nonessential” businesses. Women also bore the brunt of increased domestic responsibilities: 31% of women respondents said they had spent more time on domestic tasks since the pandemic started, compared with 26% of men.

Overall, entrepreneurs were slightly better off, and more optimistic, in October than in May—In the most recent survey, 55% of businesses were still reporting lower monthly sales year-over-year, compared with 62% in the first survey. The majority of entrepreneurs (56%) said that they were optimistic or very optimistic about the future of their businesses. 

Business owners still want help from the government—According to the report, the government support that respondents said would be most helpful to their businesses stayed consistent: loan and credit guarantees, tax deferrals, and salary subsidies. 

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