Women here match men in business fund raising

They face a tough market, but 54 per cent secure the capital they seek: HSBC survey

Female entrepreneurs here are defying perceptions of gender bias to achieve the same funding success as men - an outcome not seen in most other established markets, new research has noted.

But the survey of about 1,200 entrepreneurs in eight markets across Asia, Europe, the United States and the Middle East, including 151 here, did find that those in Singapore face one of the toughest hurdles when it comes to securing funds.

It noted that 59 per cent said they had been rejected for funding, just behind Hong Kong at 68 per cent.

The lower success rate for funding here is likely to be linked to the limited amount of capital in Singapore relative to other countries, said a spokesman from HSBC, which carried out the study.

Data from the Singapore Venture Capital & Private Equity Association shows that last year, venture capital and private investment fund raising in South-east Asia - the bulk of which came from Singapore - totalled US$1.8 billion (S$2.48 billion).

This was a fraction of the US$80 billion raised in the whole of Asia, and the US$459 billion raised globally, said HSBC yesterday.

Its survey also found that 41 per cent of female entrepreneurs here have experienced gender bias when attempting to raise capital, particularly when asked about their credibility and personal circumstances.

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

The poll also noted that 93 per cent of female entrepreneurs in Singapore sought advice ahead of the pitching process so they would feel as prepared as possible.

Perhaps as a result of this preparation, 54 per cent of women here secured the total funding they sought, on a par with men (56 per cent).

This makes Singapore the most gender-neutral market globally for raising business capital - with the exception of Hong Kong, where women (56 per cent) edged out men (53 per cent).

In Britain and the US, male entrepreneurs were more successful than their female counterparts at raising funding.

Ms Tan Siew Meng, HSBC's regional head of global private banking for the Asia-Pacific, said: "The report raises the question of whether business capital funding in Singapore is simply a tough but gender-agnostic market, or whether Singapore-based female entrepreneurs are forcing gender parity when it comes to funding.

"Either way, the report reflects my experience of Singapore-based female entrepreneurs as being tenacious, committed and meticulously prepared. The fact that Singapore is demonstrating gender parity when securing capital bodes well for the country."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2019, with the headline 'Women here match men in business fund raising'. Print Edition | Subscribe