Digitalization: Challenges and Opportunities for Women in Business

KAS Japan/Social and Economic Governance Program Asia (SOPAS) in partnership with Woomentum is conducting a research on the impact of digitalization to women entrepreneurship. Empowered women with digital transformation and innovation are key agents in building more stable and resilient communities, reducing poverty and stimulating greater social and digital economic growth. Ministries, private companies and other relevant stakeholders get confronted with challenges and opportunities in response to the changes in digitalization and gender equality. The research hopes to shed light on those opportunities and provide insights to address the set challenges to all stakeholders.


I. Background

Digital technologies such as AI, blockchain, machine learning, internet of things, and mobile technology advances have delivered far-reaching economic and social benefits for companies and citizens globally. It has also transformed the way how public services are delivered and governments serve their citizens.

Digitalisation has created new opportunities for businesses to grow and scale. It has also changed ways companies must operate in order to succeed. The digital forces are fundamentally reshaping the five key domains of business strategy: 

  • Connect with customers (two-ways)
  • Think of competition (new rivals with digital offering) 
  • Manage and store data more affordably (cloud-based computing)
  • Innovate faster and at lower cost
  • Create Value to customers

Hence, it has become vital for businesses to look closely into those five digital transformation domains to ensure they  succeed. This is particularly important for women-led businesses as they normally receive less financing compared to their male-counterparts. 


II. Research Objectives

Our research will focus on four countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar) among the ASEAN countries. By conducting this research we gather data from the field to: 

  • Assess level of awareness, of participation in the digital economy and identify the key challenges faced by women-led businesses to achieve that
  • Understand how digitalisation is enabling women-led businesses to better access financial services and capital, to access mentoring, to improve their business processes/costs and manage crises.
  • To provide recommendations and pointers to policy makers, development partners and investors to effectively enabling more women-led businesses to take a leap into the digital economy


III. Scope and Methodology

The proposed research is the first wave of a larger scope research that looks at both developing and industrialised countries. It would be very interesting to understand how differently (or similarly) digitalisation is impacting and being adopted by women-led businesses in developing and industrialised countries.


a. Target audience and Geographies

We will be focusing on women-led SMEs and tech-startups. We will be excluding the Micro-entrepreneurs in the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP).

We will be focusing on four out of the ten ASEAN countries: Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia and Malaysia.


b. Impact

We will be conducting the research while measuring against the following four impact pillars:

  • Access to finance
  • Access to mentoring
  • Improve business processes, Productivity, Cost savings
  • Covid19 - crisis management


c. Methodology

The study would consist of conducting research by gathering primary data on impact of digitalisation on female-led businesses against the above-listed four impact pillars in four countries.

Field research methods:

  • Expert interviews
  • Female business owners and female startup founders interviews 
  • Online surveys/Phone surveys
  • Group focused discussions


d. Research Publication

d.1 Online publication (Will begin by August 2020)

  • Podcast
  • Videos and online articles/stories/data visualisation
  • Online communications
  • Webinars


d.2 Offline Publication

Will be released and launched in 2021.

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Cristita Marie Perez

Cristita Marie Perez KAS

Senior Program Manager of Regional program Social Economic Policies Asia (SOPAS)

Cristita.Perez@kas.de +81 3 6426 5041 +81 3 6426 5047