This report, commissioned by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF), and developed by Dalberg Advisors, looks at changing the lives of women through entrepreneurship. While many development indicators demonstrate that the lives of women in Southeast Asia have improved drastically, endemic problems continue to keep women from fulfilling their potential.
Over 70% of women remain employed in the informal sector, one in three women are victims of intimate partner violence, and many rural areas lack access to critical maternal healthcare. These challenges slow the region’s progress towards meeting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They are also too deeply entrenched in Southeast Asian society to be resolved by any single actor, and a concerted effort will be required from the ecosystem for sustained change.
Traditionally, much of the progress in gender advancement has been led by governments, civil society and philanthropies. SPF believes that entrepreneurship can play a significant role in addressing gender issues as well.
Through their use of market-based approaches, entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to absorb risk and rapidly innovate while ensuring financial sustainability. In addition, once they achieve product-market fit, certain business models allow them to scale and reach some of the most vulnerable and underserved people in the world.