On the one hand, Asian women are growing richer quicker than their peers elsewhere in the world, while on the other there are fewer female business owners in Asia than male ones, and more support is needed for female entrepreneurs.
The first conclusion comes from ultra-high-net-worth research firm Wealth-X, the second from a study carried out by UK bank Barclays.
Of the top 13 women most likely to become the next female billionaires, more than 60% are from Asia, notes Wealth-X, “mirroring the ‘emerging’ theme seen across other sectors”.
For example, the top two listed globally are Luo Qianqian, co-founder of Shanghai-based Shanda Interactive Entertainment (net worth: $910 million); and Li Tan, co-founder of Shenzhen Hepalink Pharmaceuticals ($860 million).
Other Asian women listed are Zhang Lan, founder of Chinese restaurant chain South Beauty ($510 million); Luk Sin Fong, co-founder of Agile Property Holdings ($470 million); Chen Jinfeng of Suning Appliance ($440 million); and Hoi Shuen Chau, founder of Horizons Ventures ($410 million).
The list was compiled from an analysis of all self-made ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) women within reach of a billion US dollars in net worth. The top 13 are female UHNW individuals who have strong potential to become billionaires.
Yet the region’s women entrepreneurs face greater challenges than their male peers. For instance, 39% of employed HNW females in Asia are business owners or entrepreneurs, compared to 50% of men, finds Barclays. That compares to global figures of 44% for HNW women and 49% for HNW men.
The report suggests that with better opportunities and greater access to information and funding, aspiring female entrepreneurs can achieve business success and increase their personal wealth, having a positive impact on the economy as a whole.
The Barclays Wealth & Investment Management study also shows that the gender pay gap in Asia is wider for non-entrepreneurs compared to entrepreneurs. Non-entrepreneur women (£259,420, $389,160) earn significantly more than non-entrepreneur men (£233,390), while male entrepreneurs (£264,828) make slightly more than their female counterparts (£260,227).
This bucks the global trend, where the gender pay gap is reversed among entrepreneurs. For HNW female entrepreneurs, the average annual income stands at £382,000, while male entrepreneurs earn 14% less, with an annual income of £327,000.
In contrast, the average income of an HNW woman who does not own her own business is £217,000, 21% lower than the corresponding average male income of £273,000.
The Barclays report, Unlocking the Female Economy: The Path to Entrepreneurial Success, was based in part on a global survey of more than 2,000 HNWIs. In Asia, 500 respondents were surveyed, of which over 200 were entrepreneurs.