Jack Ma, chairperson of the Alibaba Group, delievers a speech at the 2017 Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship. [hangzhou.zjol.com.cn]
Women entrepreneurs, whilst playing a vital role in different industries, are in need of greater support and care from families and society, according to experts at a recent conference.
The 2017 Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship took place from July 10-11 in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province.
Attendees of the event included Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank; Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women; and, Jack Ma, chairperson of the Alibaba Group.
More Support, Care Needed for Women Entrepreneurs
At the event, Kim expressed his support for gender equality and women’s empowerment from an economic perspective, as a key way for countries to develop the potential to face challenges.
In particular, he remarked that the enhancement of women’s social status plays a significant role in eliminating extreme poverty and fostering common prosperity around the world.
However, in many developing countries, a majority of small- and middle-sized enterprises run by women fail to receive the same fair financial services as those run by men.
Fortunately, the situation in China seems more optimistic. Kim noted that about 31 percent of Chinese companies are run by women, owing to the equal educational opportunities and the inclusiveness in economic and financial industries.
Kim pointed to the significance of speeding up women’s economic equality, eliminating gender disparity in social status and reducing restrictions on entrepreneurship. He said the World Bank has promised to input U.S.$ 786 million for around 100,000 businesswomen to start their own enterprises.
“We aim to overcome all barriers and offer female entrepreneurs a better and more prosperous future,” said Kim.
During the conference, attendees also addressed the issue that women often face heavier pressure than men when starting up business.
In response to a question from the audience, Puri suggested that men should jointly share child-rearing responsibilities and provide more support and care to their wives.
In China, with the enactment of instructions and policies, the environment for women’s entrepreneurship was getting better, said officials.
The 13th Five-Year Plan, a road map for China’s development from 2016-2020, specifically stipulated to enhance women’s comprehensive development.
Qi Qingzhu, deputy director of the School of Management at Tianjin Polytechnic University, said there were more opportunities for female talents nowadays with the transformation of consumption and economic models.
Also, Shang Jianhui, professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at the Hebei University, said more people have begun to realize women’s unique and vital role in services, arts and crafts, online audio-visual and other industries.
Jack Ma: ‘She Era’ Is Coming
For years, e-commerce firm Alibaba has made great efforts to promote women’s economic empowerment, which has, in turn, lead to a boom in the company.
Ma particularly hailed women’s focus on customer experience and customer service, which play a significant role in building a platform’s reputation.
According to statistics, there are over 30 million employment posts in the popular Tmall and Taobao digital marketplaces and 50.1 percent of sellers are women.
In addition, women are also well-represented within the Alibaba Group.
One third of its founders were women, with a similar percentage in senior management roles. Meanwhile, the ratio of female employees was nearing 50 percent.
Ma estimated that in the future the number of female leaders will increase in the world’s top 500 enterprises and so will the counterparts in the political sphere.
“We have to admit that the ‘She Era’ is coming,” said Ma.
“Women are the secret to make Alibaba distinct. When the enterprise faces challenges and barriers, women are always the motivation for me to undergo through tough times,” he said.
“In the future, women will be the main force to promote progress in social, political, cultural and economic aspects,” added Ma.
Disabled Woman Succeeds in E-commerce, Helps People in Need
The life of Huang Yinhua, who was paralyzed at 14 due to illness, has changed in 2009 with the support of a Alibaba-backed project. Receiving a new computer and 10,000 yuan (U.S.$ 1,470), she opened an online shop selling second-hand cameras on Taobao, one of the largest e-commerce platforms in China and she achieved some 2 million yuan (U.S.$ 294,118) turnover in the first year.
In 2010, Huang set up a vocational training school, providing free business training sessions for physical-impaired people, and has assisted some 3,000 disadvantaged people on entrepreneurship and employment for the past seven years.
Now Huang is keeping on pursuing her enterprising dreams. Together with Hubei Women’s Federation, they are planning to hold an “Internet Plus” incubation program to assist more women in entrepreneurship.
The project is set to train teachers on basic e-commerce knowledge across the province and cooperate with large-scale commercial organizations to provide posts and resources to needy women.
“I once received related support so I’d like to pass down the entrepreneurial spirit to benefit more women thereby realizing their dreams,” said Huang.
Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women, delievers a speech at the 2nd Session of the Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship. [hangzhou.zjol.com.cn]
Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, delievers a speech at the 2nd Session of the Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship. [hangzhou.zjol.com.cn]
(Source: China Women’s News/Translated and edited by Women of China)