High-potential Asia-Pacific women entrepreneurs have appetite for international expansion new survey finds

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  • 90% of Asia-Pacific women entrepreneurs surveyed have expansion plans; 60% plan to grow internationally and 16% are working toward an IPO
  • 58% have explored external financing options, while 73% say they found the process “intimidating”
  • Survey identifies key behavioral barriers to global growth

HONG KONG, 9 MAY 2016. A new survey of Asia-Pacific women entrepreneurs has found that while confidence and bold growth plans are trademarks of the region’s female business owners, they face some behavioral barriers to successfully scaling their operations. The survey was conducted as part of the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ (EWW) Asia-Pacific program, which is sponsored by Standard Chartered, and assists established women-led businesses ready to become global market leaders.

An overwhelming majority (90%) of the 143 respondents reported that they plan to scale their business, with 60% planning to grow internationally and 16% working toward an IPO. Almost two-thirds (58%) of those surveyed have explored external financing options; however, 73% admitted they found the process “intimidating.”

More than half (53%) of respondents lack a clear exit strategy, something most investors want to understand before providing financing, and more than a quarter are yet to replace themselves in operational roles, spending 40% of their time working in, rather than on, the business.

Building a key advisory network has also been shown to yield new opportunities and ways of thinking. Yet only 35% of respondents have a network of trusted advisors, while a majority (67%) says establishing one is a priority. For those seeking to expand globally, building a public profile has been shown to accelerate growth; however, only 10% felt they were “very prominent” and almost half (43%) spend less than 10% of their time promoting themselves.

Annette Kimmitt, EY’s Global Middle Market Leader and Executive Sponsor, EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ Asia-Pacific says:

“Women entrepreneurs already add enormous economic value to the Asia-Pacific region, with this year’s 15 EWW participants alone generating a combined US$5.5b in 2015 revenues. Despite this, our ground-breaking survey identifies some key behavioral barriers among women entrepreneurs that could prevent them from reaching their full potential.

“Research has shown that the most successful entrepreneurs accelerate growth through a set of key behaviors, including their ability to evaluate financing for expansion, establish key advisory networks and build a public profile. Through the EWW program, EY aims to provide the tools, guidance and networks needed to promote these behaviors among high-potential women entrepreneurs and help ensure that they are limited only by their own definition of success.”

Participants in the EWW program will come together at a two-day conference in Shanghai on 9-10 May, as well as join EY at the Strategic Growth Forum China™ 2016. They will also take part in a series of e-conferences, in-country business sessions and workshops throughout the year. The customized program focuses on key areas such as:

  • Expanding knowledge through the latest information, research and executive dialogues
  • Identifying and building strategic alliances
  • Providing access to formal and informal guidance and support networks
  • Strengthening executive leadership skills and identifying opportunities for business growth
  • Increasing visibility for women entrepreneurs and their companies.

For more information on the Asia-Pacific Class of 2016, visit ey.com/ewwasiapacific.

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