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Digital era to provide more scope for women entrepreneurs

By Xu Fei and Gao Xiujuan | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-11-12 10:50

Businesswomen have had a major role to play in the economy over the past four decades. In the digital era, they should continue to tap their potential.

Female business power is becoming an important part of economic development in China. At the same time, women realize self-development and self-actualization, and possess solid economic prowess.

While the Chinese economy has been experiencing downward pressure in recent years, Chinese women's entrepreneurship ratings have been higher than global averages. In the digital era, women should show even greater entrepreneurship potential.

Chinese rankings in terms of the ease of doing business have also been steadily rising, providing a friendly environment for female entrepreneurship.

In the "Industry 4.0 and Globalization 4.0" era, digital technology will profoundly change business models. Industry 4.0, or the "Fourth Industrial Revolution", refers to the intelligent and permanent linking and networking of machines and machine-operated processes in industry. Globalization 4.0 is about focusing on equitable and inclusive growth within and across nations.

With the transformation of many industries and value chains, will women entrepreneurs benefit more in the future?

According to the 2019 Global Research Report of Female Entrepreneurship and Employment, jointly put out by AliResearch from Alibaba Group and the China Women's University at the All-China Women's Federation, women entrepreneurs will get more opportunities in the digital era and they will show more potential in the coming years.

Take, for example, the platform economy, which comprises a new set of economic relations that depend on the internet, computation and data. Platform technologies simplify female entrepreneurship choices and lower the technology threshold.

A platform technology is a group of enabling technologies that are used as a base on which other applications or technologies are developed. They facilitate the development of follow-on technologies.

Women can stand on these digital platforms and tap the best entrepreneurial opportunities.

Small enterprises can thus either actively participate in creating small and refined "invisible champion" enterprises like those that existed in Germany, or "open the world's window" with a long-term focus on market segmentation and market response.

Women startups should seize the opportunity to restructure industrial supply chains based on digital tools, and refine high-quality products and services.

But we can still see challenges in female entrepreneurship. We need to pay attention to the problem of increasing market saturation and various kinds of costs.

In the future digital enhancement process, this may encourage women to expand into new markets with innovative and new technologies.

In order to develop the potential of women entrepreneurship and employment, the following measures should be taken:

First, priority should be given to providing better talent, capital, materials and other resources to women entrepreneurs. This is one of the pressures faced by China right now. By attracting talent from abroad, these issues can be resolved to some extent.

Second, priority should be accorded to enhancing strength, relevance and the implementation of government policies, as well as effective training, guidance and counseling.

Third, focus should be put on networking technologies. In the digital era, technology is a vital tool for business success. Therefore, women should learn more in the gender-neutral digital era to seize more opportunities.

Women entrepreneurs in the digital era will experience the many facets of the digital economy - we have reason to believe that women will realize their full potential and achieve more progress.

Xu Fei is a senior expert of the Aliresearch research arm of technology giant Alibaba Group and Gao Xiu-juan is Associate Professor of China Women's University at the All-China Women's Federation.

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