How Digital Commerce Empowers Women Entrepreneurs in 2024

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How Digital Commerce Empowers Women Entrepreneurs in 2024

  • Women-owned businesses account for over half of the 100 best-selling stores on Taobao
  • GDP per capita increases by nearly 20% when women have the same employment opportunities as men: World Bank report

Photo credit: Getty Images

More young women entrepreneurs in China are turning to Alibaba Group’s consumer-to-consumer marketplace Taobao to fuel their business ambitions, according to a new report.

The report’s publication coincides with the week of International Women’s Day, a global celebration of achievements by women in every sphere, and an opportunity to lift up the next generation of women entrepreneurs.

In China, women entrepreneurs are finding success on digital platforms.

Last year, the proportion of new businesses on Taobao owned by women born after 2000 topped 30%, with nearly a third of them hailing from third and fourth-tier cities. Alibaba’s China commerce retail businesses Taobao and Tmall were the world’s largest in terms of GMV for the twelve months ended March 31, 2023, according to Analysys.

And for the first time, over half (54%) of Taobao’s top 100 stores in terms of sales were owned by women, according to the platform’s report.

This trend is echoing around the world.

Globally, four in every nine early-stage business owners are women, according to the 2023 edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s Women Entrepreneurship Report.

Women’s empowerment, from the boardroom to the boxing ring, is a powerful message for consumers and platforms to get behind.

“These campaigns are an important way for brands to signal support for women’s issues and resonate with female consumers,” said Jacob Cooke, co-founder and CEO at Asia-focused consultancy and marketing agency WPIC.

International Women Day 2024 Digital Commerce

Levelling the Pitch

Despite notching up recent wins, entrepreneurship remains an uneven playing field for women in many places. Worldwide, more than 1 billion women do not have access to finance, and women are 21% less likely than men to access the internet.

The presence of such inequalities makes the role of accessible digital commerce platforms all the more important.

From Taobao in China to e-commerce platform Lazada in Southeast Asia, marketplaces allow aspiring business owners to start selling their goods with relatively few barriers to entry.

“A lot of my knowledge of e-commerce today, I learned from Lazada,” said Filipino marketer-turned-entrepreneur Lorina Tan, who co-founded baby-care brand Tiny Buds alongside her mother.

Business owners like Tan do not need to invest in a brick-and-mortar store, and can scale their business digitally with ease depending on demand.

AI Allies

High-tech tools are emerging to shrink the opportunity gap between men and women further.

“AI can assist in developing more equitable hiring practices, identifying gender pay gaps, and suggesting corrective actions,” said Angel Vossough, CEO of AI start-up BetterAI.

Vossough is also the founder of DiverseUp, a platform that curates feedback on gender equality in workplaces.

Enabling more women to find jobs and participate in economic activities is a win for everyone.

In the long run, gross domestic product per capita can rise nearly 20% when both genders have equal employment opportunities, according to the World Bank.

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