Gender gap in entrepreneurship – a much discussed topic today, even though we as a society have made great strides over the course of the century. Founders Harmin Kaur, Deborah Widjaja and Dr. Sandhya Sriram seek to mitigate these factors and empower women entrepreneurs through her latest non-profit venture, Women Venture Asia.
Globally, there is a funding gap where only 2.3 percent of all venture capital company funding goes to female founders. In addition, 2.4 percent of venture capital firms have female founding partners. While the gap is narrower in Southeast Asia, with 23% of female venture investors involved in investment decisions, the gap still exists. In Singapore, 27.5 percent of business owners are women. This entrepreneurial gender gap is due to several factors, including a lack of access to robust networks and social capital, perceptions of gender bias, and challenges in scaling that could lead to business stagnation over time. In Asia, new women’s businesses tend to be smaller in terms of employees, sales and profits, while women entrepreneurs can be more risk-averse, more conservative and have less established external networks.
WOMEN VENTURE ASIA OPENING PLACE DISCUSSION
Women Venture Asia aims to bridge the gender gap in entrepreneurship by providing access to new networks and connecting the talent pool of women entrepreneurs with investors and business leaders. Its October 17 launch at Shangri-La Singapore will feature panel discussions on “Building More Inclusive Entrepreneurial Ecosystems” and “Bold Ambition – The Way Forward” with various panelists including ShopBack Co-Founder Shanru Lai, Carrie Tan, Founder and Transformation Coach at Lightbearers and Magnus Grimeland, Founder of Antler and Co-Founder of Zalora.
“There are many ways for investors, venture capital and corporations to cast their net to target a more diverse demographic and foster a culture of inclusion. We aim to work with venture capitalists and entrepreneurs to better understand the challenges faced by different stakeholders. By understanding these challenges, we aim to create a collective call to action to drive inclusion within the broader ecosystem,” says Harmin.
“At the same time, we will also work with women entrepreneurs and leaders through initiatives designed to help them reach their full potential.”
A former banker at Goldman Sachs in Singapore, Harmin recognizes that a major business opportunity can be enhanced by addressing entrepreneurial gender gaps. An analysis by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) shows that if women and men around the world participated equally as entrepreneurs, global GDP could ultimately increase by around 3 to 6 percent and boost the global economy by $2.5 to 5 trillion . In addition to the economic benefits, wider participation of women entrepreneurs brings new products and solutions to the market and improves the life of society as a whole.
“We want to support women to dream bigger, recognize what might be holding them back and have bold ambition. I believe that the dynamic network of role models we are building today will, in turn, inspire more women entrepreneurs to benefit the wider economy tomorrow,” said Deborah Widjaja, Founding Board Member and Champion of Women Venture Asia, Deputy CEO at Bund Center Investment.
dr Sandhya Sriram, Board Member of the Founding Group, Group CEO and Co-Founder of Shiok Meats, said: “We look forward to embarking on this journey with other women entrepreneurs, executives and investors in Asia. We want to make a difference by empowering women to unleash their potential and supporting them in realizing their entrepreneurial ambitions.”
Women Venture Asia also features champions from established Asian entrepreneurial families who share a penchant for doing good and a shared passion for supporting the next generation of women entrepreneurs. “We want to support the next generation of female entrepreneurs because we want to help build a more inclusive ecosystem for our daughters and granddaughters to thrive in,” notes Deborah.
CLOSE GENDER GAP
Women Venture Asia seeks to empower women by providing greater access to robust networks, access to finance and capacity building that encompasses not just business skills but a more holistic approach that encompasses mental resilience and well-being. The organization will host coaching programs and networking events to connect women with other successful leaders, investors and entrepreneurs. Women Venture Asia will also bring together stakeholders with more in-depth research and discussion, a coalition that advocates, shares best practice and creates change.
The programs are designed to serve women, entrepreneurs and leaders at different stages of growth, from the early start-up phase to those in the growth and expansion phase, as well as already established companies.