With limited data and information, this paper aims to examine recent developments of women entrepreneurship in Asian developing countries. This issue is currently very important since it is part of ongoing national efforts to alleviate poverty in developing countries in relation to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Greater opportunities for women to become entrepreneurs (or to have better income paid jobs) will help much in poverty reduction. .Methodologically, this study is based on data analysis and a review of recent key literature. This paper focuses only on women entrepreneurs in small and medium enterprises. The findings of this study show three main important facts. First, SMEs are of overwhelming importance in the region, as they account, on average per country, for more than 95% of all firms in all sectors. Second, the representation of women entrepreneurs is still relatively low which can be attributed to factors such as low level of education, lack of capital, and cultural or religious constraints. Third, most of women entrepreneurs in SMEs are from the category of “forced” entrepreneurs seeking for better family incomes. This suggests that when women are better educated and have better paid employment opportunities increase for women, the participation of women as entrepreneurs in SMEs may decline.
Key words: SMEs, women entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, gender, Asian developing countries.
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