Fostering Women's Entrepreneurship in ASEAN

Fostering Women's Entrepreneurship in ASEAN

Transforming Prospects, Transforming Societies You do not have access to this content

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07 Dec 2017
9789213628539 (PDF)

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Entrepreneurship is a key means through which women can both empower themselves and contribute to inclusive and sustainable development. A vital part of this agenda includes the 61.3 million women who own and operate businesses within the ten member States of ASEAN. It is the particular challenges and opportunities that the recently introduced ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will bring to women entrepreneurs which provide the impetus and focus for this report. The measures set out in the AEC Blueprint 2025 are expected to affect the prospects for SME growth in various ways. This publication proposes critical actions that can be taken by ASEAN governments to address the particular constraints facing women entrepreneurs — in association with the finance sector, entrepreneur associations, international agencies, civil society and other key actors — towards the realization of both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the AEC Blueprint 2025.

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  • Foreword

    Across Asia and the Pacific, women still cannot fully exercise their rights to decent work and full and productive employment. Women’s overall labour force participation in the region is just 48 per cent. Between 1990 and 2016, the female-to-male ratio in labour force participation rates declined from 0.67 to 0.61 in Asia-Pacific. In South-East Asia, the gender gap in labour force participation is 23 percentage points.

  • Message from the ASEAN Secretariat

    Women’s economic empowerment is crucial in achieving inclusive and sustainable development. In’Southeast Asia, women have contributed tremendously to the region’s economic growth. However, challenges remain in ensuring that women get a fair and equal chance to participate in the economy. The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has brought about a myriad of opportunities for the peoples of ASEAN. These opportunities are, nonetheless, not a given if women are not enabled and empowered to tap into the prospects of regional economic integration.

  • Acknowledgements

    Fostering Women’s Entrepreneurship in ASEAN: Transforming Prospects, Transforming Societies was prepared by the Social Development Division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) under the overall leadership and guidance of Shamshad Akhtar, Under-Secretary-General of United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. Kaveh Zahedi, Deputy Executive Secretary for Sustainable Development, also provided valuable guidance. Nagesh Kumar, Director, Social Development Division (SDD), provided substantive direction with a team led by Cai Cai, Chief, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Section, SDD, and comprising Grace Puliyel, Diana Rodriguez, Ulrike Guelich (GEM Thailand Team Leader) and Donald Clarke. Additional inputs were provided by Sharita Serrao and Sze Ki Wong.

  • Women entrepreneurs and the AEC

    Across the ten ASEAN member countries, an estimated 61.3 million women entrepreneurs own and operate businesses — accounting for 9.8 per cent of the total ASEAN population. Indeed female ownership is relatively high across the region: in 2016, the proportion of fi rms with female participation in ownership was 69 per cent in the Philippines, 64 per cent in Thailand and 51 per cent in Viet Nam.

  • A profile of women entrepreneurs

    The characteristics of women entrepreneurs in ASEAN vary between countries, but GEM data can be used to outline a general profi le. Overall, women entrepreneurs are likely to be in their late-30s, and slightly older than their male counterparts. Women are also more likely than men to be involved in early-stage entrepreneurial activity and in micro and small enterprises, particularly in retail and service activities. The lack of fi nance cited as a key factor in business discontinuance in the case of women. Women are also likely to have lower growth expectations than men, as well as lower levels of international market orientation, being largely based in and focused on local markets.

  • ICT opens new horizons

    In Asia in particular, economic activity will be boosted by a new wave of disruptive innovations. These include the Internet of things, the mobile Internet, big data, and cloud technology. It has been estimated that together they could boost the GDP of South-East Asia by between 4 and 12 per cent — by between $220 billion and $625 billion.

  • Banking on women

    A key aspect of access to fi nance and credit is the concept of fi nancial inclusion. for enterprises, this can be defi ned broadly as access to reasonably priced and appropriate formal services that meet their fi nancing needs. This is critical to faster enterprise growth, the establishment of new fi rms and greater business innovation.

  • Shaping the policy landscape

    Government policies and implementation for entrepreneurship are generally inadequate. Across ASEAN countries, with the exception of Singapore, around half of national experts surveyed by GEM saw government policies and regulations as constraining factors for entrepreneurs — with the highest levels of dissatisfaction in Viet Nam (83 per cent) and Indonesia (71 per cent). Major problems included multiple complicated, costly and time-consuming procedures, along with a lack of consistency and coordination between government ministries and agencies.

  • Growth, inclusion and equality

    As women start to operate higher up in value chains, they will encourage many more women to take their fi rst steps in business and achieve economic’independence. These women in turn can acquire credit, buy property, save’ for the future, and improve their family’s well-being. As women entrepreneurs in general expand their networks and infl uence, they promote inclusive development on the national stage, creating a positive feedback loop for change.

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