Spring 2013

Asia Foundation/APEC Report on Women Business Owners Released

A new report on barriers to women in business, the result of a joint initiative of The Asia Foundation, the Department of State, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was publicly released on March 11 at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York. Held in conjunction with the 57th Commission on the Status of Women, The Asia Foundation’s Nina Merchant-Vega and Kate Bollinger presented key findings from Access to Trade and Growth of Women’s SMEs in APEC Developing Economies: Evaluating Business Environments in Malaysia – Philippines – Thailand.

The research, which included quantitative and qualitative research in each Southeast Asian country, suggests a distinct set of economic, political and social factors that affect women-run and -owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Some of the most telling findings stress the significant benefit that support networks and role models have on businesses. The report found that women-owned firms that interact with business associations are on average 38 percent larger than those that do not.

However, across countries surveyed, a higher percentage of women business owners compared to men reported never interacting with business associations. The full report and video featuring interviews with women entrepreneurs is available here.

In order to share findings more broadly, The Asia Foundation is holding a Businesswomen’s Networking Workshop in Malaysia in May with businesswomen from across the region. In September, the Foundation will present the findings at APEC’s Women’s Economic Forum in Bali, Indonesia, and, in October, Asia Foundation President David D. Arnold will join the APEC CEO Summit.