Singapore’s women entrepreneurs face limited funding, gender biases but are equally successful securing funds compared to men

 Singapore-based female entrepreneurs are achieving the same funding success as men, HSBC Private Banking’s study has found.
Lianhe Zaobao

On top of having some of the highest rejection rates for funding, Singapore-based women entrepreneurs also have to deal with gender biases more than their counterparts in some other markets, a study has found.

And yet despite these hurdles, Singapore-based female entrepreneurs are achieving the same funding success as men – which is better than many other markets, the HSBC Private Banking-commissioned research found.

Titled “She’s The Business”, the study polled more than 1,200 entrepreneurs in eight markets – mainland China, France, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, UK, the United Arab Emirates, and the USA. In Singapore, 151 entrepreneurs took part.

According to HSBC’s report, 41 per cent of female entrepreneurs in Singapore said they experienced gender bias at the pitching process in the form of explicit personal questions about their family circumstance and credibility.

This ranks higher than Hong Kong (31 per cent) but lower than international markets such as the UK (54 per cent) and US (46 per cent).

Singapore-based entrepreneurs were also found to face one of the highest funding rejection rates, with 59 per cent having been rejected for funding, second only to Hong Kong (68 per cent).

This low success rate is most likely linked to the limited availability of liquidity, HSBC said. According to the Singapore Venture Capital & Private Equity Association, Southeast Asia had about US$1.8 billion in venture capital and private investment fundraising in 2018, just a fraction of the US$80 billion in Asia and US$459 billion globally.

Despite this, 54 per cent of women in Singapore secured the total funding they sought. This was almost on par with men, who had a success rate of 56 per cent.

This means that excluding Hong Kong, Singapore is the most gender-neutral market for business capital raising globally, HSBC said.

HSBC’s report said that this equality could be due to female entrepreneurs in Singapore being well-prepared for pitching. Around 93 per cent of female entrepreneurs in Singapore said they sought advice ahead of the pitching process to feel as prepared as possible.

HSBC added that while Singapore faced tighter available funding, the small island nation was increasingly being seen as an entrepreneurial incubator and launch pad for the region.

Citing the Singapore Venture Capital & Private Equity Association, HSBC added that government initiatives, the variable capital company (VCC) legal structure and private markets placement program are all seen as catalysts for making Singapore increasingly attractive to fund managers.

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