Australian cities overtake Singapore on global list of best cities for women entrepreneurs

The Straits Times

Singapore is no longer the top Asia Pacific city for women-owned businesses, after the Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne caught up to first and second place respectively.

The sunny island set in the sea was pushed out of its first place ranking in 2017 to third place in the 2019 list as a result.

It also fell from eighth place on the global ranking of 50 cities to the 21st spot.

However, the fall may not be as dramatic as you think.

As it turns out, the drop in Singapore’s ranking is not so much because of poor performance, but more of other cities making significant improvements instead.

The rankings, released by Dell on Monday (July 15), was based on a global study on the best cities for women entrepreneurs conducted by the tech company and IHS Markit.

This year, San Francisco’s Bay Area snatched the top spot from New York City, thanks to improvements in awarding capital and mentorship to women entrepreneurs.

However, the Bay Area scored only 63.7 out of a total of 100 possible points, showing that “there is still much work to do to level the field for women”, Dell said.

According to Dell, the ranking was based on the impact of local policies, programmes and characteristics in addition to national laws and customs to help improve support for women entrepreneurs and the overall economy.

Globally, lack of funding, high cost of living, low representation of women in leadership roles and the lack of government-led policies that support women entrepreneurs were among the most common barriers, Dell said.

In a statement, Dell said that all 50 cities on the list improved on the majority of indicators year-over-year, with Latin America and Europe seeing the highest percentage of their cities improve.

Cities were ranked on five characteristics: access to capital, technology, talent, culture and markets.


In APAC, the biggest improvements were recorded in the “talent” pillar, which was one of Singapore’s strongest pillars, where it moved up from 17th spot to 11th place. According to Dell, this was due to the rise in rankings of the city state’s top school and business schools.

“It also increased its pool of professionals needed to help scale businesses,” Dell said.

Another pillar Singapore performed well in was “technology”, which it was ranked sixth best in, up from 10th spot in 2017. APAC was also the top improving region for this pillar.

The Lion City ranked poorly at 47th spot, however, for its markets, which was “hampered by a high cost of living and suffered from a lack of accelerators and relatively few female board members, which decreased from 2017”, Dell said.

And while Singapore saw increased capital funding to women entrepreneurs, it only managed a ranking of 25th in the pillar of “capital”, as the venture capital funding for women was “still relatively light” compared to other cities.

Singaporean women also saw less crowdfunding, fewer female founders and a slight decline in high-net-worth individuals, Dell added. “Capital” was also Singapore’s poorest pillar, with a score of just 16.6 over 100 points.

In the “culture” pillar, Singapore ranked 28th globally, but scored full marks in several areas, such as the frequency of events for women in business, and the presence of a paid paternity and maternity leave.

Singapore also made progress in terms of the number of globally-recognised, successful women business leaders, Dell said. However, there are still fewer female role models or leaders compared to the better-performing cities in this category.

Other Asian cities ranked in the study include Hong Kong (23rd), Taipei (26th), Tokyo (34th), Beijing (38th), Seoul (41st), Bangalore (43rd), Kuala Lumpur (44th), Shanghai (47th), Jakarta (49th) and Delhi (50th).


Of all the cities in the world, Mexico City had the biggest improvement, rising from 45th in 2017 to 29th spot this year. In particular, the city increased the percentage of women in education, at top business schools and in its legislature. It also increased corporate vendor procurement programmes and access to capital for women entrepreneurs via crowdfunding campaigns, Dell said.

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