Women’s Economic Empowerment through micro-entrepreneurship: evidence on the effects of regional economic integration in Thailand, Lao PDR and Vietnam

Bui, Minh Tam (2016). 'Women’s Economic Empowerment through micro-entrepreneurship: evidence on the effects of regional economic integration in Thailand, Lao PDR and Vietnam' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.


abstract
Women’s Economic Empowerment through Entrepreneurship:
Evidence from Southeast Asia
 There is strong evidence showing that women’s entrepreneurship matters greatly for societal development and prosperity . Women with higher income tend to invest more in their children’s health and education to build up high quality human capital for future generations. Female owned enterprises are of special significance in transition and developing countries because they tend to employ other women more frequently, helping to reduce gender discrimination in the wage labour market by expanding economic opportunities for women. However, women tend to have lower participation rates in entrepreneurship as they face more social and cultural constraints than men (OECD, 2004). Although female entrepreneurship is on the rise around the world, the rate of participation in entrepreneurship varies.                                   
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor  (GEM) 2015/2016 reports that factor-driven economies have the highest average female entrepreneurship rates and the highest rate relative to men.  In the Southeast Asia region, women are becoming increasingly active as SME owners and entrepreneurs. In 5 of out 6 GEM countries in the ASEAN  (Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand,  Malaysia and Indonesia), women show equal or higher entrepreneurship rates  than men. 
Our research looks at the current situation and the tendency of women entrepreneurship in ASEAN countries. It attempts to answer some key questions like how women’s perceived and actual capabilities affect their entrepreneurial intention and  whether the effects of those perceptions are different from those of men; how important the role of capability and opportunity is in determining the entrepreneurship development among businesswomen and businessmen and whether these effects are consistent across ASEAN countries with different levels of economic development. 
Using secondary survey data from GEM at national and individual levels, we provide a descriptive analysis on the aggregate national level data and an econometric analysis on individual level data through logit and ordered logit models. This analysis is limited to data available in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand with over 7,000 enterprises owned and managed by women and men. 
The results show that overall in 3 countries as a whole, there is no statistically significant difference in entrepreneurial intention between men and women. However, Thai women have a stronger tendency to start their own business than men do. Meanwhile, the opposite is hold in the case of Singapore. In addition, post secondary education shows a strong influence on people’s intention for entrepreneurship in Thailand, but not in Singapore or Malaysia for any education levels. The perceived capabilities and perceived opportunities have significant effects on business intention. These effects are similar among males and females in all 3 countries.   
Secondly, women have a lower tendency to move up to higher entrepreneurial ladder compared to men in all 3 ASEAN countries while the perceived capabilities show strong positive effects on the log odds of being at more established business phases in Singapore. Thai businesswomen who have primary to first stage of tertiary education show a high propensity to scale up their enterprises to higher phases while educated Malaysian women do not. Motivation for business development is crucial among male and female entrepreneurs and there is men and women no significant difference between them in all 3 countries. People with either opportunity or necessity motivation have higher probability of moving their business forward.
These results implied that that the promotion of women entrepreneurship in countries at different stages of development and social, cultural context is considerably varied. Capabilities and education development for women show strong effects on their entrepreneurship in one case but may not in another case.

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