1 in 2 women want to start their own business but face financial challenges: report

Singapore is missing out on a potential boost to the economy by not addressing the challenges facing women who want to start a business, according to new research released by Facebook.

The study, conducted by Development Economics and YouGov on behalf of Facebook, reveals that one in two women in Singapore would like to start a business. If just 14 percent were empowered to start a business today, it would not only boost economic growth, but help to build 42,700 new businesses, and create 178,000 additional jobs – all by the end of 2021.

However, women entrepreneurs still face specific, persistent barriers, from access to finance to self-belief to readiness to set up their own business. In Singapore, women respondents identified their worry about personal financial security (42 percent) as the main barrier to starting their own business.

Facebook’s research showed that the lack of access to finance (39 percent), and the level of readiness to start a business (41 percent) [3] are the other key barriers; coming in more strongly for women aged between 18 and 24 and holding them back from taking the leap.

A different story

Interestingly, small businesses on Facebook tell a different story – 40% of Pages on Facebook are women-owned, and women-owned Pages have grown more than 60% year-on-year.

In Singapore, there has been a 60% increase in the number of new women-owned small to medium business Pages on Facebook in the last year.

Singapore is well positioned on a global landscape for women-owned businesses to thrive and is an exceptional example to Asia of the great contribution women bring to the economic growth of a nation.

Sandhya Devanathan, country head for Facebook Singapore said: “Small businesses already make a huge contribution to Asia’s economies. 97 percent of businesses are Small Medium Businesses (SMBs) and employ over half of the region’s workforce.

“If we were to harness the still largely untapped potential of women’s entrepreneurship and provide them greater support, it could lead to more jobs being created, economic growth and more diverse and representative small business communities.”

Encouraging women entrepreneurs to take the next step is possible by offering support and advice financially (64 percent). Aside from that, women surveyed said they are likely to benefit the support and advice on understanding, reaching and attracting customers (54 percent);  network/ community of support and advice (49 percent); and practical support including business and digital skills workshops (47 percent).

Establishing partnerships

Seventy-six percent of women surveyed also agree that having access to the right digital tools and support would help them get their business off the ground. That is why Facebook is partnering with organisations who have expertise in this area, to provide advice, knowledge and tools to help give more women across the country the practical support they say they need including: partnership with Singapore-based social enterprise, CRIB, and Facebook’s newly formed partnership with Girls in Tech.

"Girls in Tech is thrilled to be working with Facebook, a company that has constantly shown its willingness to advance gender equality in their workplace," said Adriana Gascoigne, Founder and CEO of Girls in Tech.

"With Girls in Tech's 50,000 members spread out amongst our 60 chapters around the world, and Facebook's far- reaching, global influence, we will be able to further provide the necessary resources for the next generation of successful female entrepreneurs -- no matter where they live."