Attributed to Nicole Tan, Country Director of Facebook Malaysia
International Women’s Day 2020, themed #EachforEqual, celebrates both women and the concept of equality. In the world of business, where women face stereotypes and biases which hamper their progress, there’s a duty to recognise the hurdles they face. As we celebrate women’s achievements each year, we also can build the pathway to a more gender-balanced world.
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 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 from 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 finds that 41 percent of business leaders surveyed through Facebook were women. Nineteen percent started their own business because of flexible working conditions, 32 percent was to pursue a passion or dream, and 18 percent wanted to be their own boss.
Women in business still face growth and financing challenges despite that 74 percent have at least two years experience in their industry. Our survey shows 78 percent of women leading businesses in Malaysia have fewer than 10 employees, and that they operate in smaller scale than their male counterparts with only nine percent having access to a loan or a line of credit.
At Facebook, we are committed to support women through initiatives that help address needs by coaching, mentorship, connectivity and community, which are all integral factors in assisting women succeed in business.
There are programmes such as #SheMeansBusiness, which enables women opportunities to connect with each other and learn. Across the region, we have trained more than 320,000 small medium businesses from 197 locations – 50 percent of whom are women entrepreneurs.
In an effort to fast forward the country’s digital transformation, Facebook’s Made by Malaysia, Loved by the World programme enables many women-led enterprises and SMBs to understand how social media can help them grow their businesses, and also empowers them to grow it internationally.
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 chili seasoning. With Whatsapp and Facebook, she connects with her customers through sharing easy sambal-based recipes.
In addition, Facebook also partners with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and Ministry of Youth and Sports (KBS) to launch the eUsahawan Young Heroes Bootcamp.
Founder of the food and beverage business Laman Segar, Siti Zubaidah Zainuddin, was honoured as one of eUsahawan’s Micro Digital Warrior in 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 five times.
In Malaysia, women like Rozella Marie Mahjhrin, founder of True Complexion, 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 marginalised groups within the community through social innovation.
Across our platforms, we have seen the positive impact women have created in their communities by having a voice – from building businesses, to starting social movements, to empowering each other.
Mentoring and ally ship are keys to help 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.