Through: Grace HY Lee, Sharon GM Koh, Juliana French, MonashMalaysia; Abu Zafar Shahriar, Monash Australia
Entrepreneurship is an engine of economic growth, but it can only thrive when there are more women.
“If you want to change the world, help women,” said Nelson Mandela.
Entrepreneurs are an engine of economic growth that can fuel the post-pandemic recovery. But while women are just as creative and innovative as men, far fewer are entrepreneurs.
The average proportion of women entrepreneurs fluctuates around 25 percent, the proportion of sole traders is on average less than 35 percent.
Globally, 16 million more women than men live in poverty due to unequal access to and control over economic resources.
A level playing field in an increasingly digital world could reduce poverty rates.
Women micro-entrepreneurs have been disproportionately affected as almost all countries imposed some form of lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
However, the pandemic has forced businesses to use technology to get online.
Digital tools have replaced physical interactions and transactions, and information and communication technology (ICT) has been identified as an essential tool to facilitate women’s empowerment in emerging economies.
ICT enables women micro-entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses and, once in business, to reach further customers, become more efficient and build their businesses in ways they were previously unable to.
This can improve the social status and quality of life of women. But not everyone benefits equally.
As of 2020, only 57 percent of women worldwide used the internet, compared to an estimated 62 percent of men.
While this digital gender gap has narrowed across regions, women remain digitally marginalized in many of the world’s poorest countries, where online access could potentially have its greatest impact.
Factors associated with this digital divide include age, disability, gender, illiteracy, income levels, and the urban-rural division of economic activity.
Despite efforts by policymakers and NGOs to increase e-commerce adoption during the pandemic, women micro-entrepreneurs facing social and structural barriers have not been able to participate.
To drive e-commerce adoption, policymakers could examine the role of common belief systems in technology adoption.
Different general beliefs lead to different mindsets towards new technologies, and these different mindsets affect women micro-entrepreneurs’ perceptions and responses to ICT use differently.
A recent study showed that women micro-entrepreneurs who are more growth-oriented are more likely to find technology easy to use and useful, and therefore more likely to embrace e-commerce for their business.
Cultivating a growth mentality can be a promising channel to encourage greater use of e-commerce, with important implications for entrepreneurship.
Closing the gender gap in entrepreneurship is essential to boost innovation, improve competitiveness, increase productivity and create jobs, all of which will help reduce global poverty to zero.
Originally released under Creative Commons by 360info™.
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