The Rise of Female Entrepreneurs In The Emerging Markets

December, 1, 2015

Global platform explores how female innovation is driving business

Men traditionally rule the business world. Particularly, when it comes to technology. However, an increasing number of women entrepreneurs are driving business innovation in the emerging markets, including Sri Lanka.

While there are still gender challenges, women in the emerging markets are overcoming obstacles to break through the glass ceiling. As these developing countries advance technologically, and become increasingly startup-savvy, women are helping to revolutionize the business landscapes in Sri Lanka, as well as across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

And it’s not only individual businesses that are affected by the presence of women at C-level. According to a recent report from EY, tapping into women’s economic potential could have the equivalent effect of an additional one billion people in business and in the workforce.

Sri Lanka’s business landscape is transforming. One example of this is the Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WCIC) in Sri Lanka. According to the president of the organization, women currently contribute approximately 70 percent of the country’s foreign exchange revenue.

However, there is still a long way to go. According to recent research, while 51 percent of Sri Lanka’s population is female, only around five percent of members elected to the country’s parliament, local government institutions and councils are women. The government is working toward change, with a new proposal to increase female representation, and plans to direct more budget toward policy improvements for women.

In the Middle East, significant change is underway. Currently, over a third of startups are founded by women - with females fighting against common stereotypes to achieve business success through female-run companies. These women are independent, young, well-educated, and increasingly tech-savvy. One such example of this is WOMENA, a Dubai-based network which comprises high net worth female investors.

From managing directors, to frontend developers, co-founders to product managers, global real estate portal, Lamudi, employs women from all over the world to lead its international teams. Lamudi Philippines was founded by young female entrepreneur Jacqueline van den Ende, who was invited to speak at the Asia CEO Young Leaders’ Summit earlier this year.

According to van den Ende: “Women are standing up and demanding the global business stage. I believe that as women in a male-dominated environment, we are in a position of strength; we have the power to bring something unique to the table, to create a motivated and collaborative company culture, and to educate and encourage other women to embrace entrepreneurship.”

“The business world in the emerging markets is changing every day. There is huge potential for women to break down barriers and overcome the obstacles to success, whether in technology, real estate, finance, or any other male-dominated sector. In so many developing countries, well-educated, tech-savvy women are stepping up to drive innovation and business growth,” concluded van den Ende.