Levelling the business playing field for women with Facebook

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This year’s International Women’s Day celebrates both women and the concept of equality. With the theme, #EachforEqual, it advocates that an equal world is an enabled world. This is especially true in the world of business, where women face a number of stereotypes and biases that may hamper their progress. As we celebrate women’s achievements each year, we also have a duty to recognize the hurdles they face, so that we can build the pathway to a more gender-balanced world.

This is why we invest in the Future of Business – a collaboration between Facebook, the World Bank, and the OECD to survey the millions of small businesses on Facebook around the world bi-annually. We share country-level data from this survey openly, providing policymakers, research institutions, and non-profits with an up-to-date, global view of online small businesses’ challenges and expectations. This data was gathered in over 100 countries in late 2019 and focuses on issues that women in business face, including the reasons for starting their business, their access to credit, the size of their business, and whether they find social media helpful for their ventures.

In Malaysia, the survey found that 41 percent of business leaders surveyed through Facebook were women with 19 percent saying they started their own business to avail of flexible working conditions, 32 percent said it was to pursue a passion or dream, and 18 percent wanted to be their own boss.

However, women in business still face growth and financing challenges. Despite the fact that 74 percent have at least two years experience in their industry, our survey shows 78 percent of women leading businesses in Malaysia are leading firms with fewer than 10 employees, and that they operate smaller businesses than their male counterparts. Only 9 percent report having access to a loan or a line of credit.

At Facebook, we are committed to enabling an equal world by supporting women through initiatives that help address needs around coaching, mentorship, connectivity and community, which are all integral factors in helping women succeed at business.

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We have programs such as #SheMeansBusiness, which enables women with opportunities to connect with each other and learn. Across the region, we have trained more than 320,000 small medium businesses across 197 locations – 50 percent of whom are women entrepreneurs.

In an effort to fast forward the country’s digital transformation by helping Malaysian small businesses grow both at home and abroad, Facebook’s Made by Malaysia, Loved by the World programme not only enabled many women-led enterprises and SMBs to understand how social media can help them grow their businesses, but also empowered them to grow it internationally.

Facebook Made by Malaysia, Loved by the World
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Entrepreneur Tengku Elona founded Oleh Elona, a natural homemade solution for eczema-prone and sensitive skin, she dubs as ‘Eczema Warriors’. Through Facebook and Instagram, Elona was able to reach more customers across borders and tailor her ads to the right audience. On the other hand, Rose Nizeana or better known as the person behind Auntie TIM produces versatile gourmet chilli seasoning. With Whatsapp and Facebook, she connects with her customers through sharing easy sambal-based recipes.

In addition, Facebook also partnered with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and Ministry of Youth and Sports (KBS) to launch the eUsahawan Young Heroes Bootcamp where the founder of the food and beverage business Laman Segar, Siti Zubaidah Zainuddin, was honoured as one of eUsahawan’s Micro Digital Warrior for 2019. Through the programme, she learnt how to use social media to continuously engage current and potential customers and increased her business by as much as 5 times.

In Malaysia, we celebrate strong women like Rozella Marie Mahjhrin, founder of True Complexion, who celebrates and empowers people of all colours, backgrounds, body types and abilities through her efforts on Facebook and Instagram. While Shaym Priah who leads Yellow House, a non-profit organisation that aims to increase the employability of marginalized groups within the community through social innovation.

Across our platforms, we have seen the positive impact that women have been able to create in their communities when they have a voice – from building businesses, to starting social movements, to empowering each other.  Mentoring and allyship are keys in helping women build their support system as well as boost confidence in making progress. We look forward to celebrating their success for years to come and contribute towards a more equal world.

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Future of Business report

Survey background and data

The Future of Business is a collaboration between Facebook, the World Bank, and the OECD to survey the millions of small businesses on Facebook around the world biannually, more frequently than most business surveys. We share country-level data from this survey openly, providing policymakers, research institutions, and nonprofits with an up-to-date, global view of online small businesses’ challenges and expectations.The below data was gathered in over 100 countries in late 2019 and focuses on issues that women in business face, including the reasons for starting their business, their access to credit, the size of their business, and whether they find social media helpful for their ventures.

Malaysia

Facebook continues to be an important tool for women business leaders worldwide. In Malaysia for example, we find that 41 percent of business leaders surveyed through Facebook were women. These women get into their business for a variety of reasons: 19 percent say they did so for flexible working conditions, 32 percent said it was to pursue a passion or dream, and 18 percent wanted to be their own boss. Women business leaders also consider Facebook important for their businesses. Eighty three percent claim to check their business Page weekly and 94 percent say that social media is helpful to their business, more than the share of male business leaders. These business leaders are optimistic for the future of their business, with 49 percent saying they expect higher than average growth in the future. However, women in business still face growth and financing challenges.  Despite the fact that 74 percent have at least two years experience in their industry, our survey shows 78 percent of women leading businesses in Malaysia are leading firms with fewer than 10 employees and that they operate larger businesses than their male counterparts. Only 9 percent report having access to a loan or a line of credit, less than 19 percent of their male counterparts who report accessing formal financing.

Attributed to Nicole Tan, Country Director of Facebook Malaysia.

Header photos by: Sarah Koester, Rochelle Brockington and Cole Ndelu of EyeEm

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