WOMEN entrepreneurs here seem to have it better than their regional counterparts when it comes to setting up their businesses, but they still face plenty of challenges.
These can include difficulties in raising credit and a lack of childcare support, according to a panel of speakers at the Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network lunch last Thursday.
A recent study by Dell, an American computer giant, found that women globally receive less outside funding for their businesses than men.
It noted that more than half the female population in 14 of the 30 countries surveyed do not have corporate access to financial organisations.
While the study did not include Singapore, Ms Catherine Lian, managing director of Dell Indonesia, believes that businesswomen here could do with "better and easier access to capital".
After all, it is critical for entrepreneurs to be able to secure capital to finance and fuel the growth of their businesses, said Ms Lian, who was on the panel alongside two other Dell colleagues and Straits Times senior correspondent Grace Chng.
She also said that the lack of childcare support and flexible work arrangements continues to be a stumbling block for many women who need support in running their businesses alongside their families.
Ms Chng said socio-cultural barriers could hinder the route to success for businesswomen.
She cited the example of a pair of Singaporean parents whose only wish for their daughter is for her to "get a degree, get a job, and ultimately get married", regardless of her ambition.
Most of the women running businesses here are also "in areas they are most comfortable with, such as blogshops", said Ms Chng, referring to the lack of opportunities in other fields to motivate women to venture outside their comfort zones.
The panel agreed that more support is need to help enterprising women overcome obstacles and fulfil their ambitions.
"Supporting women is not just the right thing to do - it's also good business," said Ms Angela Fox, managing director of Dell Australia and New Zealand, who chaired the event.
She pointed to United Nations estimates showing that the Asia-Pacific region would grow by an additional US$89 billion (S$115 billion) annually if women were fully integrated into the economy.
The male population can help by supporting diversity in the workplace, added Ms Fox.
"It's about harnessing the potential of female entrepreneurship to affect the global economy and foster a bright future for us all," said Ms Fox.
She added that entrepreneurs will drive the vast majority of change in the world by creating jobs and integrating social good into their business strategies and purpose.
Dell helps connect leading female business owners through the Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network, which aims to provide support and access to technology, capital, resources and networking.
Ms Lian said that the booming economy in South-east Asia, where markets such as Myanmar are opening up, would present women who are looking to grow their businesses with plenty of investment opportunities.