San Francisco, California and Bangkok, Thailand, September 25, 2013 — Last week, Veronique Salze-Lozac’h, The Asia Foundation’s Chief Economist and Director, Economic Development spoke at the CSR Asia Summit in Bangkok, an annual gathering of business, government, and civil society leaders to address important corporate social responsibility issues in light of Asia’s rapid and sometimes uneven growth. A key focus of this year’s summit was inclusive and sustainable development, including the role of women entrepreneurs.
There is a growing body of evidence that women are more likely to reinvest business profits in education, their family, and their community. Ms. Salze-Lozac’h – together with her co-panelists, Alex Orange, Qualcomm Incorporated’s Director, Government Affairs, Southeast Asia & Pacific, and Gilda Custodio Maquilan, The Coca-Cola Company’s Sustainability Manager, Philippines – highlighted the critical importance of women entrepreneurs as powerful change agents and helping to create conditions for their success.
Ms. Salze-Lozac’h also highlighted key findings from The Asia Foundation’s recent study on women entrepreneurs in Asia. Launched at the September 2013 APEC meetings in Bali, the study, “Access to Trade and Growth of Women’s SMEs in APEC Developing Economies: Evaluating the Business Environment in Indonesia,” follows the Foundation’s February 2013 report, commissioned by APEC, which explored factors limiting women’s entrepreneurship in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand.
In middle income countries like Thailand and Malaysia, women are already very active in the business sphere. However, according to Ms. Salze-Lozac’h: “they have to fight harder than most men to start, and even more, to grow their business. The barriers are more diffused than obvious discriminatory policies, but they exist nevertheless and are a barrier to unleashing the full potential of women in business.”
According to the Foundation report, women-owned firms in Asia face many barriers including uneven access to finance, lack of networks, under-use of mobile and other business-related technologies, and social factors. These barriers disproportionately impact women-owned businesses and translate into a significant missed opportunity for economic growth. Download the report to learn more.