Southeast Asia's e-commerce market could grow by more than $ 280 billion by 2030 if large online shopping marketplaces emerge Do more to encourage and empower women entrepreneurs, according to a new report from International Finance Corporation.
The "anonymity" of e-commerce has lowered many of the barriers to entry women traditionally face and given them opportunities to thrive in new sectors, said Amy Luinstra, IFC's gender program manager for East Asia and the Pacific CNBC on Thursday.
Still, "many of the inequalities women face in traditional retailing are bleeding into the online world," she said, including securing access to finance.
Luinstra urged major e-commerce players to do more to support female sellers and capitalize on the market opportunity.
For platforms with funding opportunities, this is a great way to attract more women and help them thrive.
Gender Program Manager (East Asia and Pacific), IFC
This includes expanding funding for women, providing training and encouraging them to get involved in higher value sectors like electronics, she said.
"For platforms with funding opportunities, this is a great way to attract more women and help them thrive by making sure they are aware of and are able to take advantage of funding opportunities," Luinstra told CNBC's Squawk Box Asia . "
A woman wears a protective face mask while waiting for customers at her store in Jakarta, Indonesia on Tuesday March 31, 2020.
NurPhoto | Getty Images
Your comments are against the background of the Covid 19 pandemic, which is said to have disproportionately disadvantaged women.
The IFC report, which drew on data from Southeast Asian e-commerce website Lazada, found that women were on their way to achieving gender equality in e-commerce in 2019. But even with the surge in online retail over the past year, the additional caregiving and time constraints women faced meant that progress took a step backwards.
"Before the pandemic, women stood their ground – in some cases outperformed men and even … participating men," Luinstra said.
For example, in the Philippines, women made up 64% of the sellers on Lazada's website, but their sales fell 27% during the pandemic, the report said.
"That has changed under the pandemic, and so we are starting to fill the void and the ability to fill that void which adds up to the huge $ 280 billion figure," she said, referring to the im Report called Market Opportunity.
Correction: This article has been updated to correctly reflect the report's 2030 growth estimates.