Independent entrepreneurs

Statbel DataLab: new statistics, methods and data sources beta version

Almost a third of self-employed entrepreneurs are women

Almost a third of self-employed entrepreneurs are women

On the occasion of Women’s Day on 8 March, Statbel maps female entrepreneurship based on data from 2022. In Belgium, 1,590,166 self-employed entrepreneurs have positions of founders, directors and business managers. 31% of these positions were occupied by women in 2022. This is an increase of one percentage point compared to 2019 when 30% of self-employed entrepreneurs were women.

Female entrepreneurs are the most represented in the health sector

Sectors which attract the most female entrepreneurs are:

  • Human health and social work activities (21%)
  • Professional, scientific and technical activities (18%)
  • Other service activities (15%)
  • Wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (14%)

The health sector is the only sector where women are in the majority with 61% of self-employed entrepreneurs. The two other sectors which are the most “female” are the other service activities (47%) and education (45%). At the other end of the scale, the female presence drops to 7% in construction and 13% in transportation and storage

Female entrepreneurs are less represented in the Brussels-Capital Region

There are 32% of female entrepreneurs in the Walloon Region, 31% in the Flemish Region and 28% in the Brussels-Capital Region.

Proportionally, entrepreneurship attracts more young women

The highest proportion of women is in the 40-49 age group (131,833). However, women are proportionnally more present in the lower age groups. 41% of self-employed entrepreneurs younger than 30 are women versus only 30% in the most widespread age group for all genders combined, the 50-59 age group.

Methodological explanation

The National Institute for the Social Insurance of the Self-employed (NISSE) publishes the number of active individual self-employed persons. These are divided into eight categories according to the nature of the activity in combination with the capacity of the self-employed person. By the end of 2021, the total number was 1,230,419.

The Crossroads Bank for Social Security (CBSS) provides Statbel with the lists of those same individual self-employed persons with their ID-Demo for the 4 quarters of a year. Statbel uses Q4 of each year. For the end of 2021, the total number was 1,223,374 or a 99% coverage compared to the NISSE

In the CBE position list, the positions 00001 (founder natural person), 10002 (director) and 10006 (business manager), that have not been ceased at the end of a year, are selected. The CBE position list contains an ID-Demo for each position. So, the same ID-Demo can have positions in several CBE numbers.

Since the coverage rate of the self-employed (91%) is much higher than that of helpers (29%), only the self-employed who are not helpers are retained for this statistic.

Finally, for these categories, all active CBE positions that have a match with a CBSS-active ID-Demo are taken into consideration. This results in a total of 1,546,511 active CBE positions for Q4/2021.

The ID-Demos add (via the CBSS) the categories, in addition to the gender of the self-employed person and the year of birth. In addition to the region, the CBE positions also add the Nace section of the company.  The year of birth makes it possible to classify the self-employed into age groups (age). 

Summary: The statistic shows the number of active CBE positions that can be linked to a CBSS-active ID-Demo at the end of a year. The CBSS-active ID-Demos are restricted to the categories of self-employed who are not helpers. The combination allows us to break down the CBSS-active self-employed with one or more active CBE positions by gender, age group, region and/or Nace section.