Independent entrepreneurs

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

Less than one third of self-employed entrepreneurs were women in 2019

Less than one third of self-employed entrepreneurs were women in 2019

On the occasion of Women's Day on 8 March, Statbel maps female entrepreneurship for the first time based on data of 2019. In doing so, only self-employed people who were not working as an assistant were taken into account.
In concrete terms, we are talking about 1,433,477 positions of founders, directors and business managers of Belgian enterprises of which 30% were women in 2019[1]. For the sake of readability, we place these three categories together under the term "self-employed persons" in the rest of the text.

Women are most strongly represented in the health sector...

The health sector is the only sector where women are in the majority with 59% of self-employed entrepreneurs. The two other most "female" sectors are Other service activities (46%) and education (44%). At the other end of the spectrum, the presence of women drops to 7% in construction and to 14% in the information and communication sector and in the transportation and storage sector.

... and least present in the Brussels-Capital Region

The presence of women is proportionally lower in Brussels companies (26%) than in the other regions (31%).

Especially young female entrepreneurs

Women are proportionally more present in the lower age groups. 40% of self-employed entrepreneurs under 30 are women. In the most common age group, the 50 to 59-year-olds, this is only 28%.

The same trend can be observed in all sectors: the higher the age, the less women are represented.

Example: the sector ‘Professional, scientific and technical activities’ has an almost equal representation of women for those under 30 years old, but has only one third of women for those positions between 40 and 49 years old.

[1] A self-employed person can perform several functions simultaneously. 975.818 active self-employed (not being helpers) were identified in the Crossroads Bank of Enterprises. This corresponds to 1,433,477 positions of founders, directors and managers of Belgian enterprises.

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 2019, the total number was 1,145,015.

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 2019, the total number was 1,137,088 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 1,433,477 active CBE positions for Q4/2019.

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.