San Francisco, California and Bali, Indonesia, October 8, 2013 — The Asia Foundation President David D. Arnold, joined over 1,200 CEOs and 10 heads of member economies in the recent two-day APEC CEO Summit, a high-level meeting to address the Asia-Pacific region’s rapid growth and development. This year’s APEC CEO Summit focused on inclusive and sustainable development, with a special focus on the importance of women as powerful change agents in Asia’s growth trajectory. In line with this focus, Mr. Arnold presented the Foundation’s research on women’s entrepreneurship in four APEC economies at a sideline event hosted by the National Center for APEC and APEC Business Advisory Council.
The broad themes of economic integration and inclusive development across the Asia-Pacific were reflected in remarks by world leaders including John Kerry, Secretary of State of the United States; Xi Jinping, President of China; Park Geun-Hye, President of the Republic of Korea; Benigno Aquino III, President of the Philippines; Lee Hsien Loong; Prime Minister of Singapore, among others.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry remarked on the vital role that multilateral fora such as APEC and ASEAN play in supporting a region as economically dynamic as the Asia-Pacific: “APEC has played a critical role in that success by helping governments to align their standards and their practices, by lowering the barriers for women to be full participants, and by making it easier for businesses to reach across borders and find new markets.”
The Asia Foundation shares many of APEC’s key priorities, which are fundamental to the Foundation’s programs. “In an increasingly globalized world, The Asia Foundation realizes that economic integration and cooperation are key to healthy economic development. We are committed – through our innovative and multi-country programming, local partners, and donors – to driving the idea that the advancement of women is central to thriving societies,” said David D. Arnold, Asia Foundation president at the APEC CEO Summit in Bali, Indonesia.
During his remarks, Mr. Arnold highlighted the main findings from The Asia Foundation’s recent study on the many institutional and cultural barriers faced by women: “This is not about providing privileges to women; it is about leveling the playing field to unleash their potential for the benefit of both companies and economies. In other words, supporting women in business makes complete business sense for both the private sector and governments,” he added.
According to The Asia Foundation report, “Access to Trade and Growth of Women’s SMEs in APEC Developing Economies: Evaluating the Business Environment in Indonesia,” women-owned firms in Asia face both formal and informal barriers, including uneven access to finance, lack of networks, under-use of mobile and other business-related technologies, and social factors. Launched at the September 2013 APEC meetings in Bali, the study follows the Foundation’s February 2013 report, commissioned by APEC, which explored factors limiting women’s entrepreneurship in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand.