Using Information and Communication Technology to Support Women's Entrepreneurship in Central and West Asia

Date: May 2014
Type: Papers and Briefs
Series: ADB Briefs
ISBN: 978-92-9254-552-9 (print), 978-92-9254-553-6 (web)
ISSN: 2071-7202 (print), 2218-2675 (web)
Author: Martinez, Inmaculada; Nguyen, Thao


This brief gives an overview of women’s entrepreneurship in the region, and describes (i) how information and communication technology (ICT) can be used to support business activity and overcome challenges specific to women, (ii) the barriers preventing women from enjoying the full benefits associated with ICT, and (iii) the methodology used for the regional study. Finally, it summarizes the study’s strategic recommendations for ADB and other stakeholders.

Key points

  • In several Central and West Asian countries, women are less likely to become entrepreneurs, and their businesses are more likely to be informal, stay small, generate less revenue, and employ fewer people.
  • ICT tools not only improve business performance but can also be used to overcome challenges specific to women entrepreneurs—time and mobility constraints; access to formal financial services, information, skills, and personalized advice; and participation in business networks.
  • However, lack of ICT skills, lower purchasing power, and cultural barriers hinder women entrepreneurs from accessing and using ICT.
  • Governments, financial service providers, and business development service providers have room to more effectively leverage ICT to serve women entrepreneurs.
  • Women represent an unmet market opportunity for the private sector, opening up public-private partnership options to develop sustainable initiatives and services.