Women can add $280 billion to e-commerce in Southeast Asia: IFC report

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 27 2021 12:35 PM

MANILA – Southeast Asia’s e-commerce sector could grow by over $280 billion between 2025 and 2030 by closing the gender gap or increasing the number of women selling online.

To achieve this goal, more women should sell online and their sales must perform as well as men’s, according to the Women in E-Commerce in Southeast Asia Report published by the International Finance Corporation.

In the Philippines, women sellers on Lazada owned two-thirds of businesses, the report said.

Although more women sellers joined the Lazada marketplace during the COVID-19 pandemic, the average gross merchandise value (GMV) of women’s businesses dropped to 79 percent compared to men’s businesses, which they were outselling by 106 percent before the COVID-19 pandemic, the study showed.

The decrease in the average women’s gross merchandise value in the Philippines and Indonesia highlights how the pandemic “disproportionately and negatively” impacted women entrepreneurs, the IFC said.

“Further expanding financial services to women through agent banking, mobile banking, e-money, and fintech services that extend the reach of the financial system are important for providing women with greater access to the digital economy,” the IFC said

The IFC said reversing this trend could ensure that women could compete in the digital economy following the pandemic.

“E-commerce penetration is still quite low in the Philippines and as a result, there is more than enough room for healthy competition," Lazada Philippines CEO Ray Alimurong said. 

"In fact, it’s the growth of the industry that is going to help the platforms operating within it to grow. It is similar to the popular saying ‘A rising tide will lift all boats’,” he added.

In terms of financial inclusion, at least 61 percent of women in the Philippines do not own bank accounts, according to the report.

The report also found that women in the Philippines have greater use of moneylenders compared to Indonesia, and that Filipinas were also “particularly reliant” on personal savings for start-up finance, it added.

The group recommended the following steps to boost women’s success in e-commerce:

• Collect sex-aggregated data to understand which sectors women operate in, the barriers and discover opportunities
• Leverage platform financing
• Educate women on paid promotions
• Boost training offerings
• Encourage entry in high-value sectors 

The IFC report was conducted as part of the Digital2Equal initiative in partnership with the European Commission with 17 leading technology companies, such as Airbnb, Didi Chuxing, Facebook, Google, Grab, Lazada, LinkedIn and Uber, to address gender gaps in their platforms.

E-commerce and digital finance have surged in the Philippines due to restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19. Majority of businesses have undertaken a digital shift to cater to the changing consumer demand.

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