Developed economies in Asia Pacific provide better supporting conditions for their women entrepreneurs to prosper, such as high opportunity to attain advanced knowledge assets and access to mainstream financial services ,compared to emerging markets, according to Mastercard’s inaugural Women’s Entrepreneurial Index.
The Index also suggests that countries with enabling conditions foster more Opportunity Entrepreneurs (driven by desire to progress) while countries with less conducive supporting conditions tend to breed more Necessity Entrepreneurs (driven by need to survive).
Overall New Zealand ranked first (53.9) on the Index, followed by Australia (51.7) and Thailand (50.9). At the other end of the spectrum, India (33.3), Sri Lanka (32.7) and Bangladesh (27.0), had the lowest overall scores, indicating that the conditions fostering female entrepreneurship are the least favorable in these markets.
“We have reached a stage of awareness where we realize the importance of women in the socioeconomic development of the society,” said Georgette Tan, senior vice president, Communications, Asia Pacific, Mastercard.
Tan notes that, especially in emerging markets, greater economic inclusion of women can bring pivotal shifts in their path to economic betterment.
“However, we still have a long a way to go to transform that realization into real economic inclusion by eradicating the traditional and obsolete gender roles that are so deeply entrenched in societies, cultures and practices.”
“We need to recognize and share stories of successful women entrepreneurs and put a more targeted effort towards developing conditions that support the aspiring entrepreneurs. This requires a concerted effort from the governments, NGO’s, communities and private sectors but more importantly, the confidence and inner drive in women to take on the roles and risks synonymous with entrepreneurship.”
The Mastercard Index measures female entrepreneurs’ ability to capitalize on opportunities granted through various supporting conditions within their local environments and is the weighted sum of two components.
The first component is the “Level of Women’s Advancement and Entrepreneurial Factors” (geared towards measuring the degree of bias against women as workforce participants, political and business leaders, as well as the financial strength and entrepreneurial inclination of women).
The second component is “Supporting Conditions” (gauge the degree of access women have to basic and advanced knowledge assets, access to basic financial services, women’s perception of safety levels and cultural perception of women’s household financial influence).
Progressing at different rates and ways
The Index reveals that women entrepreneurship is progressing at different rates and in different ways across the 16 Asia Pacific markets.
For instance, in developed markets such as New Zealand (53.9), Australia (51.7), Singapore (50.1) and Taiwan (48.6) which are ranked 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th, respectively, women entrepreneurship is largely driven by strong enabling conditions.
In emerging markets such as Thailand (50.6) and Philippines (50.1), ranked in 3rd and 4th place, women’s progress as entrepreneurs is driven more by higher levels of women’s advancement and entrepreneurship factors such as business leadership and politician representation.
While markets such as New Zealand and Australia have stronger supporting conditions than their counterparts in emerging markets such as Thailand and Philippines, they are weaker in terms of the level of women’s advancement and entrepreneurial factors.
Generally, women’s ability to thrive as entrepreneurs appears to vary depending on the strength of their respective market’s “Supporting Conditions.”
Markets such as New Zealand, Australia and Taiwan with the best accommodating conditions, score relatively higher overall on the Index (within top 6 rankings). In markets such as Malaysia (38.8), India (33.3), Sri Lanka (32.7) and Bangladesh (27.0) where the underlying conditions supporting women’s advancement as entrepreneurs are weaker relative to their peers, the overall scores are also the lowest (13th to 16th placings).
The level of women’s advancement and entrepreneurial factors is not always positively correlated to the supporting conditions in the market. This is especially evident in Taiwan (48.6, 6th), Hong Kong (46.4, 8th), South Korea (46.2, 9th) and Japan (40.6, 12th), where supporting conditions are strong but the level of advancement and entrepreneurial factors are significantly weaker.
Women entrepreneurship in China (47.7, 7th), Indonesia (44.7, 10th) and Vietnam (43.9, 11th) is underpinned by relatively healthy supporting conditions and level of women’s advancement and entrepreneurial factors.
Women in these three markets are making fairly commendable inroads as entrepreneurs in spite of the weak underlying supporting conditions such as poor access to advanced knowledge assets (female tertiary enrollment rate is only 32.1 percent in China, 34.8 in Indonesia and 23.5 in Vietnam compared to 103.4 percent in Australia) and poor penetration of mainstream financial services (female ownership of a debit card is only 50.2 percent in China, 25.