One of many things to celebrate during Women’s History Month is the seismic growth in women’s entrepreneurship that has made our global economy more vibrant and inclusive. Women are running or have started approximately 250 million small businesses across the world. In the U.S., women own 42% of all businesses – about 13 million, pre-COVID – and they launched, on average, 1,817 new businesses per day between 2018 and 2019. These gains are very positive for women’s financial security and empowerment, yet women entrepreneurs still face unique barriers, which have only intensified during the pandemic.
Thankfully, technology helps women entrepreneurs bridge the gap in key areas, such as access to markets and capital, which are critical to survival, growth, and success.
According to a February 2021 Small Business Roundtable/Facebook “State of Small Business Report,” women-owned small businesses that have successfully reopened or stayed opened during the pandemic quickly shifted to online tools, which was cited as one of the most important factors that helped them survive. With the massive shift to online commerce, platforms that connect women entrepreneurs to consumers have served as a lifeline, and it seems there’s no turning back.
This has been the silver lining of the pandemic – the crisis has led many women entrepreneurs to find new tools and platforms that connect them to new or unexplored markets, both global and domestic. Alibaba platforms stand out in this regard, and women entrepreneurs have found significant success in tapping into the Chinese market.
Daya Fields, president of Pipette, a startup that makes clean baby care products, said Alibaba’s Singles Day was the ideal opportunity to learn about the Chinese consumer to guide a growth strategy that will help her company succeed on the Tmall Global platform over the long-term. Due to U.S. retailers “pulling back” on lesser-known brands during the pandemic, Fields said new partnerships and global markets are essential to survival and success.
For many years, advocates for women entrepreneurs have said that equitable access to markets, capital, and technical support would provide women business owners with the tools they need to reach success parity with their male counterparts. With the support and market access provided through platforms like Alibaba, women entrepreneurs have found equal footing and are quietly but powerfully shaping the global marketplace.