Is China eclipsing Silicon Valley in promoting women?
As Silicon Valley struggles to shed its male-dominated "brogrammer" culture and bring more women into the technology industry, Asia can proudly point to a long list of female tech entrepreneurs -- including a number of self-made billionaires. Each of them has a remarkable story to tell.
For this special report, Nikkei Asian Review journalists interviewed five women who are thriving in a famously male-dominated industry.
Doris Hsu, raised in a poor farming community in Taiwan, runs a top global semiconductor supply company. Shilpa Vyapari's software firm competes in one of the most promising areas of tech: the internet of things. Carman Chan launched two startups of her own before becoming a successful venture capitalist, while Bai Xue and Han Mei both left top positions at Alibaba to pursue their entrepreneurial visions.
Their success should not be taken as a sign that Asia's tech companies are hiring and promoting enough women, however.
Pocket Sun, co-founder of SoGal, a U.S.-based venture capital firm that invests in women-led startups, says obstacles remain -- particularly in markets such as South Korea and Japan.
"Asia is not better or worse for women entrepreneurs," Sun says. "Raising funding for women entrepreneurs is hard everywhere, and in Asia, women face more blunt discrimination and straight-out biased questions at pitch meetings."
"There will be more successful women entrepreneurs across Asia and in the world. No doubt about that" Pocket Sun
China is emerging as a leader in promoting women in tech, however. Nearly two-thirds of startups in China have women in the executive suite, while 57% of their U.S. counterparts have no women in top roles, according to Silicon Valley Bank's 2018 Startup Outlook Survey.
One Chinese tech executive who believes in promoting women is Jack Ma, Alibaba's founder. At a technology conference last year, he advised companies to "hire as many women as possible."
Sun says women in Asia have new opportunities to start businesses on their own terms, thanks in large part to the opportunities created by the web.
"Today's women entrepreneurs tend to create businesses that are an extension of their self-expression, which really adds color to the business world," she said. "There will be more successful women entrepreneurs across Asia and in the world. It's a great time in history to be a woman."
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By Charumini de Silva
With a view to enhance the participation of women entrepreneurs in business and particularly in the exports sector, the National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) recently held a forum titled ‘Women to the Fore in Exports’ to encourage increased participation of women in the economic development of Sri Lanka.
The forum identified and discussed key issues both at the policy and operational levels that hinder the participation of women in business activities, as well as facilitate cross-border trading transactions to accelerate economic development. The discussion also highlightedon the available Government assistance for women led businesses, especially women led startups, since the objective of the NCE is to encourage women entrepreneurs to focus on the field of exports as a professional career path, as well as a rewarding business.
During the forum the Chamber also launched its latest initiative, ‘NCE Women’s Wing’ to provide services specifically for women exporters as well as potential entrepreneurs and exporters. The NCE intends to provide a series of services such as market information, facilitating the provision of resources, and advice to build a sustainable international business for women who engage in business globally.
In addition a dedicated webpage for women entrepreneurs in the award winning NCE website, was also launched during the event.
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The investors may not be lining up yet, but these women entrepreneurs believe that government support and personal grit will help others in Bihar realise their startup dreams.
Education is the key to a bright future and the Bihar government is going all out with its online facilitation system for students (OFSS), tapping technology to provide a platform that allows students to apply for higher education.
Across the country, people have a tendency to write off Bihar, often pegged as a backward state that is heavily dependent on agriculture. However, the startup wave flowing through the state has shown that people here have ideas, grit, and commitment. Investors may not be lining up just yet, but a few women entrepreneurs are riding the startup wave.
YourStory spoke to five women to understand the challenges unique to Bihar, the support available to them from government and peers, and to learn how they are addressing local challenges and problems, and nurturing their ventures with a vision to scale.
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Soon you, your daughter, sister or wife can wear a tiny hidden device that will call for help in case of trouble, even if there’s no smartphone coverage.
The winning team of the $1 million Anu & Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE contest, announced Wednesday evening, hopes to use technology to solve the threat of sexual assault. The contest was launched in 2016, after a rash of violent gang rapes in India put an international spotlight on the issue.
The goal is “to get to a solution so we don’t discuss safety 10 years hence,” Manik Mehta, founder of the contest’s winner Leaf Wearables told USA TODAY. “It’s going to start with women and then move on to kids. And eventually we will spread it to all humanity, so it’s like polio, nobody has it anymore.”
Leaf was among five finalists in a contest that called for a discrete device that would alert rescue personnel in an emergency, provide a woman’s location during an attack, even in low connectivity situations, and cost less than $40.
The Leaf device can be worn as jewelry — a ring or a pendant — and works independently of a phone, which is the first thing perpetrators usually take away during an attack, Mehta said.
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“The percentage of the women entrepreneurs who have completed the lifecycle of entrepreneurship (in India) is a small fraction,” opined Padmaja Ruparel, president of the Indian Angel Network (IAN). She added that Meena Ganesh was one of the rare entrepreneurs she could think of who’ve gone through the entire cycle.
Although women entrepreneurs are trickling into the startup ecosystem of India in slightly larger numbers, this in Padmaja’s view, is an important factor that needs to change.
“These women have to go through a complete lifecycle of entrepreneurship: starting a venture, raising money, exiting it, giving in to healthy returns,” she said. Until this changes, the ratio of investments in female- and male-led ventures won’t change, and this topic will continue to dominate any discussion on women entrepreneurs,” she said.
She is not wrong. A study by Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) has ranked India 52nd out of 57 countries judged on the basis of parity for women entrepreneurs. According to the Sixth Economic Census by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) only 14% businesses in India are run by women domiciled in the country. There are a total of 58.5 Mn businesses in India, but only 8.05 Mn are managed by women entrepreneurs.
Padmaja was speaking at the 2018 Annual Startup Conclave by Yes Bank on the topic of ‘Navigating the VC Landscape’ and the session was moderated by Vaibhav Agarwal, founder and CEO of Inc42.
The VC landscape is a tough terrain for women entrepreneurs to navigate, one that desperately needs smoothing, and women could do with all the help they can get in this regard.
The panel discussion attempted at gaining a better understanding of why there is there a dearth of women investors, how they can create scalable businesses, and also how they can bring consumer businesses under the lens of investors and try to leverage technology at the same time.
The panelists included Ritu Marya, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Media (India) and former editor-in-chief of Franchise India, Manu Shukla, a project officer in the IT department of the Government of Rajasthan, Dolly Bhasin, director of Incuspaze Coworking, and Nidhi Agarwal, EIR of YourNest Venture Capital.
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