Singapore Ranks Third in APAC in Fostering Growth for Women Entrepreneurs

July 15, 20197:17 pm
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At the 10th annual Dell Women Entrepreneur Network Summit in Singapore, Dell announced findings of the 2019 Women Entrepreneur Cities (WE Cities) Index, ranking 50 global cities on their ability to foster growth for women entrepreneurs. Dell ranks cities based on the impact of local policies, programmes and characteristics in addition to national laws and customs to help improve support for women entrepreneurs and the overall economy.

Building on 10 years of research on women entrepreneurs, Dell partnered with IHS Markit to research and rank 50 cities on five important characteristics, including access to Capital, Technology, Talent, Culture and Markets. These pillars were organised into two groups — operating environment and enabling environment. The overall rating is based on 71 indicators; 45 of which have a gender-based component. Individual indicators were weighted based on four criteria: relevance, quality of underlying data, uniqueness in the index and gender component.  

All 50 cities made progress since 2017. However, some cities made bigger strides than others and the race to the top inevitably left some cities behind.

Highlights include:

  • The San Francisco Bay Area outranked New York for the No. 1 spot this year, largely in part because the Bay Area is one of the best places for women to gain access to capital. It also moved from 6th place to 2nd place in Culture, illustrating that the number of role models and public dialogue around eliminating the ‘bro culture’ is making an impact.
  • Out of a total of 100 possible points, the No. 1 ranked San Francisco Bay Area scored only 63.7. That’s evidence that there is still much work to do to level the field for women – and validates the need for this kind of research and outreach to policymakers to move the needle for female founders.
  • Lack of funding, high cost of living, low representation of women in leadership roles and the lack of government-led policies that support women entrepreneurs were among the barriers globally.
  • Thirty out of 50 cities improved on more than half of their indicators, with Latin America and Europe seeing the highest percentage of their cities move up.
  • The most-improved cities represent nearly every region, which indicates how broad-based the improvements have been around the world.
  • Mexico City had the greatest improvement, ranking No. 45 in 2017 and moving up to No. 29 this year. In particular, the city increased the percentage of women in education, at top business schools and in its legislature. It also increased corporate vendor procurement programmes and access to capital for women entrepreneurs via crowdfunding campaigns.

In Asia Pacific (APAC), cities are improving as facilitators of growing businesses for women entrepreneurs alongside all other cities globally. Singapore ranks in the top half of the Index and is ahead of other cities in the region, behind only Sydney and Melbourne.

Highlights include:

  • Cities in the APAC region score the highest improvement in the Talent pillar. The region also improved significantly in the Technology pillar and was the top improving region in that pillar.
  • The median WE Cities score by APAC region improved by a score of 0.7, compared to 3 in Europe and 0.9 in North America. APAC cities mainly fell behind in the pillars for Culture and Markets.
  • · Talent and Technology are Singapore’s strongest pillars. It improved in both, moving from 17th to 11th place in 2019 for Talent and moving from 10th to 6th place in Technology.
  • Singapore’s Talent pillar benefitted from increasing its top school and business school rankings. It also increased its pool of professionals needed to help scale businesses.
  • Singapore ranks second in improvements for a forecasted economic growth rate of city, region or country over the next five years.
  • Singapore ranks No. 47 globally for Markets as it was hampered by a high cost of living and suffered from a lack of accelerators and relatively few female board members, which decreased from 2017.
  • In the Capital pillar, Singapore ranked No. 25 globally as venture capital funding to female entrepreneurs increased, but still relatively light to other cities. Singaporean women also saw less crowdfunding and fewer female founders and a slight decline in high net worth individuals.
  • At the No. 28 spot globally, Singapore’s Culture score was relatively low due to fewer female role models or leaders amongst other factors. Having said that, Singapore is more advanced than majority of its neighbours in the region in actively addressing gender parity issues.

2019 WE Cities Index Rankings:

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“When we invest in women, we invest in the future; communities prosper, economies thrive and the next generation leads with purpose,” said Karen Quintos, EVP and chief customer officer at Dell Technologies. “By arming city leaders and policymakers with actionable, data-driven research on the landscape for women entrepreneurs, we can collectively accelerate the success of women-owned businesses by removing financial, cultural and political barriers.”


“When more women work, economies grow. Technology is helping to drive this progress as a gender-neutral enabler, and helps create a level playing field,” said Amit Midha, president of Asia Pacific & Japan, Global Digital Cities at Dell Technologies. “Whilst all cities in the Index have improved, the crucial factor is the consistency of this improvement across the different factors that impact women entrepreneurs’ success. The WE Cities Index helps Dell Technologies get closer to our customers and understand the landscape in each city so we are better able to help women entrepreneurs scale their businesses.”

“Singapore’s strong base in technology literacy and access to talent position it well to realise its goal in becoming the world’s first Smart Nation,” said Eric Goh, vice president and managing director, Singapore, Dell Technologies. “This vision requires the collective effort of the public and private sector, to enable and equip individuals of all genders as agents of change. By highlighting the complex challenges that women entrepreneurs face in Singapore, we hope to be able to drive meaningful conversations and growth as we embark on this nationwide digital transformation journey.”

“The 2019 Dell WE Cities report is unique from other bodies of research in that it not only ranks 50 global cities on their ability to foster women entrepreneurs, it shows how the cities have improved from their 2017 benchmark,” said Karen Campbell, consulting associate director, IHS Markit. “This year we can see some patterns emerging. Ranked cities have collectively made the most improvement in the Capital and Culture pillars, which shows the importance of measuring not just the operating environment but also enabling environment for women entrepreneurs. This data-driven approach shows where women entrepreneurs still face barriers in scaling their business.”

Advocating for Women Entrepreneurs

The 2017 to 2019 WE Cities Index results highlight the successes and challenges that each city faces, and where cities can learn best practices from one another. These key learnings, if supported by local governments, can add up to big changes for women-owned businesses, globally.

Based on the findings and comparison between the 2017-2019 indices, Dell has developed a set of WE Cities Policy Recommendations focused on three areas, including:

  • Access to and the development of financial and human capital.
  • Private and public sectors role in increasing access to local and global networks and markets.
  • How government and business leaders can help women entrepreneurs thrive in the changing-face of technology.

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