Dentsu Aegis Network and DentsuVentures is launching an initiative to mentor, develop and help fund female entrepreneurs in South and Southeast Asia.
The idea follows a report from the agency network earlier this year, titled ‘The New Voice of the Female Consumer in Southeast Asia’, in which it found that 36 per cent of women in Southeast Asia were self employed.
As part of One@DentsuAegis, a programme developed to support diversity and innovation across the business, Dentsu Aegis Network has formalised an initiative to mentor, develop and help fund female start-ups in South and Southeast Asia.
Partnering with other female led diversity initiatives such as Female Founders, Women Unlimited and She Means Business, Dentsu Aegis Network will run a three-part program.
Ruth Stubbs, CEO of iProspect Asia Pacific, will be running the initiative with an extended leadership team from across Dentsu Aegis Network and strategic business partners which include clients and other third parties. A blueprint has been developed to recruit, mentor and fund female founded start-ups that display `innovation, diversity, social sustainability and tech leadership’ at their core.
In a recent whitepaper, The New Voice of the Female Consumer in Southeast Asia, the agency identified an increasing trend towards people choosing self-employment over a traditional working lifestyle. This trend was particularly true among women, with 36 percent of women across Southeast Asia, self-employed.
In addition, the study found that 47 percent of all online women in SEA are sellers. This equates to 33 million women who opted in as a seller across Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines in 2015. In Indonesia, 55 percent of online women are trading as merchants from their homes today. “We can conclude that selling and not just buying through digital channels to supplement income has created a new socioeconomic profile due in part to the sheer scale of the activity,” the paper stated. “The implications of which will shift the paradigm for digital marketers as it pertains to ecommerce for this part of the world, which still supports a very traditional marketing landscape,” it added. The study consisted of a 10-minute survey across the fieldwork period of August 18-28, 2015. Covering both buyers and sellers, 1,019 people across Indonesia (319), Thailand (350) and the Philippines (350) were interviewed.
Dentsu Aegis clients and third party partners will be recruited for involvement but the initiative will be led by Ruth Stubbs, CEO of iProspect Asia Pacific, alongside other Dentsu Aegis leadership across the region.
Stubbs commented; “We believe this initiative will allow Dentsu Aegis Network to lead the industry towards a more socially conscious approach to the onset of the digital economy, especially highlighting the role women and emerging markets are set to play. Digital convergence and an emerging generation of female entrepreneurs are changing the shape of traditional business as we know it. Understanding these women, their motivations and how we can help them is critical to the success of us all.”
The startups recruited onto the programme will be focused on ones that show ‘innovation, diversity, social sustainability and tech leadership’, according to the network. The three parts of the scheme; mentorship, development and funding, will start in August. Dentsu Ventures will supply the secondary funding for the startups as the final stage.
With a strong focus on solidifying key foundational elements of a business strategy, the programme will take place over the course of two months with a unique curriculum created to deep dive into key areas that are essential to scale businesses.
The accelerator programme will partner selected candidates with senior industry mentors. A panel of strong and inspiring female business leaders from across Dentsu Aegis Network and its strategic business partners will also give guidance throughout the programme, sharing extensive experience on digital, marketing, finance and operations.
Going beyond educating and training candidates, the programme will culminate with a demo day in early December with possible second round funding from venture capitalists Dentsu Ventures, Monk’s Hill Ventures and others.