Women Entrepreneur and the e-commerce boom in SE Asia

Guest post by Becky Hostetler

For the past few years, Southeast Asia has been getting a lot of attention for its expanding consumer base. Companies like McKinsey & Company have taken note of the growing economies in ASEAN countries. McKinsey in particular noted that the countries in ASEAN together make up the seventh largest economy in the world and consuming households in this area will double by 2025. The Boston Consulting Group also wrote that Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar are rapidly growing in the middle-class and affluent consumer socioeconomic category.

Not only is the expanding consumer base notable, but the way the consumer base now makes purchases is also notable. Many countries that make up ASEAN have quickly increasing access to mobile technology and have found convenience in using mobile technology to make purchases. With this market change in ASEAN countries in mind, it only makes sense for the ecommerce industry in ASEAN to expand as well. As a result, startups running the gamut of ecommerce opportunities have popped up and quickly become very successful. Especially prominent startups range from cloud-based management software to bitcoin platforms, online retail stores and even logistics services for other ecommerce companies.

Notable in the ecommerce industry is the number of female entrepreneurs taking advantage of this boom in Southeast Asia. These entrepreneurs are able to identify specific needs and connect the common consumer need to shop conveniently through an ecommerce platform. This enables consumers to connect more easily with their needs, and these women have broken the metaphorical glass ceiling through the opportunities they found in the ecommerce industry. These women’s businesses also run the gamut in online services, from fashion and beauty outlets to music and real estate resources.


Some women are even using online shopping to empower other women. One entrepreneur, Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, started a business for women artisans in the Philippines to sell their handmade products both online and in retail stores.


Fernandez-Ruiz’s company, Rags2Riches (main photo) helps women in poor communities who make fashion and home accessories by providing a safe and profitable way to sell their products, and has trained 900 people in the business since its start in 2007. In 2015, Fernandez-Ruiz was honored as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs and as a 2010 Young Laureate by the Rolex Awards for Enterprise.

Becky Hostetler is a recovering grad student and a cheerleader for entrepreneurs and small business in all parts of the world.  Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.


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