E-commerce plays a crucial role in promoting female entrepreneurship and fostering a more inclusive business environment in Sweden – as highlighted by a new report from Amazon.

Despite witnessing a record number of businesses started by women since the early 2000s, a staggering 75% of all companies in Sweden are still led by men. This underrepresentation - one of the most notable rates in Europe - extends to venture capital availability, with a mere half percent of available funds allocated to women-founded companies.

To explore these issues further, our latest report, Entrepreneurship for All – 10 Recommendations for Democratised Entrepreneurship in Sweden, gathers insights from 400 small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) leaders. The report identifies the digital divide as a major barrier to equitable growth and stresses the importance of digital literacy and access to digital tools for female entrepreneurs, underscoring how e-commerce can bridge this gap.

Building on the insights from the report, we brought together a panel of over 20 experts, business leaders, and government officials for a roundtable discussion. The focus was on discussing the potential of e-commerce, aiming to strengthen women's roles as entrepreneurs and identify actionable steps towards more inclusive economic growth.

At the roundtable, State Secretary Sara Modig addressed regulatory reforms to support entrepreneurship: “An important part of continuing Sweden's competitiveness is to work on simplifying regulations for businesses, especially SMEs. As an entrepreneur myself, I have experience of spending a lot of time on government contacts and handling administration, I now know that time could have been spent on expansion.”

The report also presents ten specific recommendations. Among these are proposals to reduce the administrative burden on entrepreneurs, improve conditions for digital trade and export, establish specialised entrepreneurship training within the Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) programme and enhance digital literacy through educational initiatives. Special emphasis is also placed on increasing the accessibility and efficiency of government support structures and offering targeted resources to bolster financing for women-led businesses.

"Amazon aims to create more opportunities for female entrepreneurs. A level playing field will not only benefit the entrepreneurs and the economy but also customers, who will gain access to new and fantastic products," said Gulfem Toygar, Country Manager for Amazon Sweden.

Below is a full list of recommendations from the report, to achieve more inclusive and equitable economic growth:

  • Work for an ambitious trade and export policy with good conditions for companies to grow and export through digitisation and e-commerce, and through a strong internal market within the EU where companies can scale up.
  • A reform for increased competitiveness - expanded R&D deduction for companies' digitisation.
  • Make Verksamt.se a one-stop shop for business regulations and financing support that eases the administrative burden for entrepreneurs.
  • Add a course in personal finance, saving, and entrepreneurship within the framework of the individual choice in high school.
  • Establish SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) educational content for participants who want to learn more about entrepreneurship, digitisation, and e-commerce.
  • Establish UF (Young Enterprise) educational content that provides knowledge in digital tools.
  • Target special efforts to strengthen the financing of women-led companies.
  • Establish incubators with a special focus on women's entrepreneurship.
  • Let Almi contribute with pitch coaches to prepare entrepreneurs as they seek investment.
  • Lower employer contributions and self-employment taxes for small business owners.