Last week in Beijing, Diane Wang, the founder and CEO of business-to-business e-commerce website DHgate.com, teamed up with Kathleen Wynne, the first female premier of Ontario, Canada, for the benefit of women entrepreneurs globally.
The theme for the meeting was Digital era, the best era for women entrepreneurs, which aims to encourage women (especially young women) to leverage digital platforms to start businesses. They hope to accomplish this through a more effective public and private partnership throughout the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region.
“As digital technologies advance, the percentage of women entrepreneurs in China has been growing fast year over year, reaching 25% by 2017, compared with just 3.6% a few decades ago. There are only a few moments in history when we have the chance to move forward, move fast, and the moment is now,” remarked Wang.
Wynne added: “The public should do more to create a more inclusive economy where men and women have the same opportunities in the labour force. We have put out a policy that says we want to see 30% of women on boards in the private sector and in the government, we set that to 40%. When you get women involvement at a rate of 30%, there will be different issues that will be discussed.”
During APEC 2017, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern mentioned, the lack of social networks is one of the major obstacles holding women entrepreneurs back.
A 2017 APEC study with 500 women entrepreneurs across the Asia-Pacific region discovered that maintaining work-life balance is the biggest pain point for women entrepreneurs and access to financial support and capacity building is the most common obstacle for women entrepreneurs. Additionally, access to global resources through local communities is what women entrepreneurs expect most.
Under these circumstances, the APEC Women Connect programme was initiated, to empower women to realise entrepreneurship through digital.
Wang commented entrepreneurship used to be considered a male-dominated area, but the landscape has changed over the past few years and most women entrepreneurs on DHgate are millennials.