A new study shows that women trail men by a long way when it comes to founding companies in Switzerland.
The study, by the University of Applied Sciences in Solothurn, shows that only 16 per cent of new firms are founded by women.
However, it finds that many more women (33 per cent) are self-employed. The study draws the conclusion from this that women often found companies with an annual turnover of less than SFr100,000 which means that the company doesn't appear in the official companies' register.
"We are surprised at the low figure but there are reasons for it. One is that a third of all independently-working people are women...but they tend to set up very small firms," says Professor Najib Harabi, project leader of the study.
That means that many firms created by women were not taken into account. However, in European terms, the figure of 33 per cent is high.
"If you look at figures we have for 1997, Switzerland has the second-highest percentage of firms created by women (33 per cent) after Portugal with about 42 per cent," says Professor Harabi.
Women tend to set up smaller firms because their business strategy is concentrated on a few private local customers and they do not tend to have plans to expand.
"They tend to keep their businesses small to be able to spend more time with their families," says Professor Harabi.
In summary, the study finds that there is untapped potential for the economy as a whole.