Study: more women lead Swedish companies

An increasing number of women in Sweden are running businesses, according to a new study, although some measures indicate Sweden still lags behind compared to other European countries.

Study: more women lead Swedish companies

A total of 800,000 people own or manage their own businesses in Sweden, according to the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv), and an increasing number of them are women.

In the last decade, the number of women running businesses in Sweden has increased by 36 percent, well above the overall 22 percent increase in people running businesses.

There are now 238,000 women responsible for running businesses in Sweden, according to the study.

In compiling the figures, the confederation included registered sole proprietors, co-owners of trading companies, as well as CEOs and board members in active joint-stock companies.

According to Carolina Brånby, a business climate expert at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, reforms carried out by the centre-right Alliance government in recent years go a long way toward explaining recent growth of women-run businesses in Sweden.

“I’m convinced that the government’s policies played a significant role in encouraging more women to start their own businesses,” she told The Local.

Brånby pointed to two reforms in particular – a 2009 law allowing municipalities to open up publicly financed activities – particular health services – to private contractors, as well as changes to tax laws making it less expensive for people to pay for cleaning and other household services.

“The new laws created incentives and opened up new markets for small business owners,” she said.

Previously, Swedish municipalities managed publicly-financed old-age and home care services, effectively shutting out private actors, according to Brånby.

She cites the Act on the System of Choice in the Public Sector (Lagen om valfrihetssystem – LOV), which came into effect in 2009, as a contributing factor to the recent increase in women-run businesses in Sweden.

Following the changes “there was suddenly a new sector available for people who wanted to run their own businesses”, said Brånby.

In addition, Sweden’s household services tax relief (RUT-avdrag), which provides tax breaks that result in households saving up to 50 percent on a range of services including babysitting and cleaning, has also spawned a number of new businesses, many of which are run by women.

Despite the figures from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise showing a steady increase in women managing businesses, other measures show that Sweden still lags behind many other countries in Europe when it comes to women in business.

Only 3.8 percent of Sweden’s working female population run businesses on a full-time basis, according to figures from Eurostat, while the EU average is 5.5 percent.

“While the figures don’t correspond exactly to ours, it shows that Sweden still has a ways to go in terms of encouraging women entrepreneurs,” said Brånby.

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Volvo profits plummet on rising material costs

Swedish automaker Volvo Cars said on Thursday that rising raw material costs and inflation had driven down profits in the third quarter.

Volvo profits plummet on rising material costs

The group posted a net profit of 665 million kronor ($61 million) in the July-September period, a drop of 71 percent compared to 2.3 billion kronor during the same quarter a year ago.

The figure was far below analysts’ forecasts of between 2.15 and 2.19 billion kronor, according to Bloomberg and Factset.

The company’s share price was down by around seven percent in midday trading on the Stockholm stock exchange.

Chief executive Jim Rowan said the company was hit hard by rising raw material prices, record inflation, higher interest rates and the war in Ukraine.

“The macroeconomic uncertainties around the world weighed on our third quarter performance”, he said in a statement.

Revenue meanwhile rolled in slightly higher than analysts’ expectations, rising by 30 percent to 79.3 billion kronor, boosted by “robust” demand for the company’s SUVs.

Analysts had predicted third quarter sales of between 78.1 and 78.7 billion kronor.

Retail sales declined however in some markets, including its main markets Europe and the United States, where the number of vehicles sold fell by 14 and 32 percent respectively.

The carmaker insisted however that its order book remained solid.

Volvo Cars, which aims to have an all-electric fleet by 2030, also reported “sharp pick-up” for its fully-electric vehicles at the end of the quarter, especially in September.

It said sales of fully-electric cars soared by 87 percent in the third quarter, accounting for seven percent of its total sales during the period.

The company, a subsidiary of Chinese group Geely, said manufacturing output continued to improve in the third quarter, but “unforeseen factors” such as power outages and Covid-19 related lockdowns in China “slowed down the pace of normalisation”.

It expected production, wholesale and retail growth in the second half of the year.

“For the full year 2022, we expect slightly lower wholesale volumes than 2021, assuming no further major supply chain disturbances. Wholesale and retail volumes will be on similar levels”, it said.