Case Studies of Successful Women Entrepreneurs
in the ICT Industry in 21 APEC Economies

As part of APEC PPWE 01/2017A
“Women’s Economic Empowerment and ICT: Capacity Building for APEC Women’s Entrepreneurs in the Age of the 4th Industrial Revolution”


This research project was carried out with joint efforts between the Asia Pacific Women’s Information Network of Sookmyung Women’s University in Republic of Korea and 21 researchers who conducted individual case studies of successful women entrepreneurs from 21 APEC Economies. Special thanks should go to the women entrepreneurs who willingly shared their stories of entrepreneurial journey despite their busy schedule.

Executive Summary

This report presents findings of case studies of successful women entrepreneurs engaged in ICT business or actively integrating ICTs into their business. A total of 24 women entrepreneurs from 21 APEC Economies participated in the research study. This study is part of APEC-funded project titled ‘Women’s Economic Empowerment and ICT: Capacity Building for APEC Women Entrepreneurs in the Age of the 4th Industrial Revolution’ undertaken by Asia Pacific Women’s Information Network Center (APWINC) of Sookmyung Women’s University under the supervision of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family of Republic of Korea. The purposes of the current study are 1) to identify success factors that contributed to business success of the women entrepreneurs, 2) to understand main challenges or obstacles that these women entrepreneurs faced, 3) to highlight policy recommendations that the successful women entrepreneurs offered as enablers for facilitating women’s entrepreneurship, and 4) to identify advice that the women entrepreneurs would like to give to other women entrepreneurs or women who wish to start up their business in the future.

21 researchers from the APEC Economies conducted their case study of one or two women entrepreneurs. The researchers collected data through face-to-face interviews or skype interviews with the selected women entrepreneurs one to four times. They analyzed the data and, based on the analysis results, completed a case study report. APWINC then conducted cross-case analyses and identified recurrent and salient themes across cases with regard to the four aspects – success factors, challenges, policy recommendations, and advice for other women entrepreneurs.

As regards success factors, cross-case analysis identified multiple factors including government ICT policies, government initiatives for women entrepreneurship, support from entrepreneur networks and ecosystem, active use of ICTs, customer-centered approach, and passion for entrepreneurship. Challenges that the women entrepreneurs frequently cited include limited access to finance, gender discrimination, lack of mentors and coaching networks, lack of skills and experiences, and fear of failure. Regarding policy recommendations, this research study identified several common recommendations, such as ‘build gender-responsive entrepreneurial ecosystem,’ ‘increase mentoring and networking opportunities,’ ‘increase funding opportunities,’ ‘provide ICT and entrepreneurship trainings for women,’ and ‘promote women’s welfare.’ The women entrepreneurs offered advice, including ‘seek for mentoring and networking opportunities,’ ‘take risks and learn from failures,’ ‘form a solid team,’ and ‘do not let gender biases overwhelm you.’

It is expected that findings of this research project focused on best practices of women entrepreneurs in the ICT sector will help to inform women in the APEC region of key features of the current ICT business environments and to promote their economic empowerment. To promote women entrepreneurship in the ICT industry or to lead more women entrepreneurs to actively leverage ICTs for their current business, it is necessary to keep exploring best practices of women entrepreneurs in the relevant fields and disseminate their success stories around the APEC region and also the whole world in many possible ways.


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