Women-led small businesses hit harder, two years into pandemic: Meta exec

Women-led small businesses are faring worse, two years into the coronavirus pandemic, than their male-led counterparts. That’s one of the findings of a Facebook report that examined the gender differences among entrepreneurs using its platform.

Three-quarters of small- and medium-sized U.S. businesses owned by women on Facebook were operating as of January. That compares with 82% of those owned by men. Globally, women are faring even worse, according to Nicola Mendelsohn, Meta’s vice president of global business. She has introduced new programming, first in the U.K. when she was based there in a previous role, and now expanded everywhere, to help close the gap.

“Over and over again, women are telling us that there’s a gap in their own financial literacy,” Mendelsohn told Yahoo Finance. “The new training that we’re launching is going to help educate women on how to effectively manage their business, finances, and it’s got everything from financial reporting to understanding financial health, P&L, etc.”

Women entrepreneurs are tapping into the tools available to them already. According to the latest edition of Facebook’s State of Small Business report, 61% of female-led small businesses on the platform said they used digital tools in the prior 30 days for advertising. That compares to 53% of male-led small businesses.

It’s in Meta’s interest to help small businesses: they make up the bulk of Facebook’s advertisers. As was evidenced last quarter, the platform is facing fierce competition for users, and advertisers, from the likes of TikTok. It also took a hit from Apple’s recent privacy changes that allow iOS users to opt out of letting Meta’s apps track them across the web. That tracking data has traditionally been a valuable source of data to sell to advertisers.

Mendelsohn is confident that advertisers will stick with Meta, and she said client conversations are focused on accessing Facebook tools to try to grow their businesses. “We’re seeing this big shift to video, this big shift to shorter content in the form of Reels. But the commerce opportunities that we have on our platforms — things like shops, things like business messaging” are hot topics with clients, plus looking ahead to the metaverse features that Meta is building, she said.

Facebook unveiled their new Meta sign at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. An embattled Facebook Inc. is changing its name to Meta Platforms Inc., or Meta for short, to reflect what CEO Mark Zuckerberg says is its commitment to developing the new surround-yourself technology known as the “metaverse.” But the social network itself will still be called Facebook. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Facebook unveiled their new Meta sign at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. An embattled Facebook Inc. is changing its name to Meta Platforms Inc., or Meta for short, to reflect what CEO Mark Zuckerberg says is its commitment to developing the new surround-yourself technology known as the “metaverse.” But the social network itself will still be called Facebook. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Meta shareholders seem less convinced. The stock is down 39% since its last earnings report, and nearly 50% since it closed at a record high last September.

Julie Hyman is the co-anchor of Yahoo Finance Live, weekdays 9am-11am ET. Follow her on Twitter @juleshyman, and read her other stories.

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