Women and e-commerce in Southeast Asia
Developed in partnership with the European Commission, with funding from the Umbrella Fund for Gender Equality and data from one of the region’s largest platforms, Lazada, the report shows that closing earnings gaps between men and women on e-commerce platforms could add over $280 billion to the value of the regional e-commerce market.

Women and e-commerce in Southeast Asia

by International Finance Corporation (IFC)

The report Women and E-commerce in Southeast Asia is the first large-scale use of platform data in the region to inform the extent of women’s participation on e-commerce and how online platforms can benefit women business owners.

Achieving such gains will require proactive efforts by e-commerce platforms, investors and policymakers, to not only increase the number of women selling online but also support their growth, including entry into higher-value segments on e-commerce platforms.


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Women Can Add Nearly $300 Billion to E-Commerce in Southeast Asia and Africa: IFC Research
The e-commerce markets in Southeast Asia and Africa could grow by over $280 billion and $14.5 billion respectively between 2025 and 2030, according to two IFC reports published today. This can be achieved by increasing the number of women selling on online platforms and by providing them with better training and financial support.

Women Can Add Nearly $300 Billion to E-Commerce in Southeast Asia and Africa: IFC Research

by International Finance Corporation (IFC) | 26 May 2021

Washington DC, May 26, 2021 

The reports, Women and E-commerce in Southeast Asia, and Women and E-commerce in Africa found that COVID-19 has accelerated the growth of e-commerce and digital entrepreneurship in the regions and that more women have embraced digital business. However, it also noted that more can be done to promote women's entrepreneurship and help women overcome e-commerce challenges.

"E-commerce in Southeast Asia and in Africa is thriving. However, widespread differences between men and women in digital and financial inclusion continue to hold back women entrepreneurs," said Makhtar Diop, IFC's Managing Director. "E-commerce firms are well-positioned to reverse this trend and create more business and leadership opportunities for women."

For example, e-commerce marketplace platforms are well-positioned to target women-owned businesses with training, and to encourage women's participation in higher-value segments such as electronics. Women could also strengthen their businesses by taking advantage of emerging fintech offerings, such as in-platform loans, which women currently access at much lower rates than men. The reports leveraged data from Jumia, in Africa, and Lazada, in Southeast Asia—as well as surveys of vendors in Côte d'Ivoire, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, and the Philippines. 

The reports show that in some countries, women comprise half of all active e-commerce vendors, although they tend to run smaller-scale businesses and feature prominently in high-competition, low-value segments. On the Lazada platform, about a third of businesses in Indonesia and two-thirds of businesses in the Philippines are women-owned. 

Supporting women entrepreneurs has taken on renewed urgency since the outbreak of COVID-19. Since the pandemic started, women-owned businesses in the three African countries covered by the study experienced a 7 percent drop in sales, compared to a 7 percent rise in sales for men-owned businesses. In the Philippines, the sales numbers of women-owned businesses had been higher than those of their male counterparts but fell to 79 percent of those of men because of the impact of COVID-19.

"In Southeast Asia, e-commerce became a lifeline for individuals' daily essentials as well as a natural business strategy pivot for vendors and brands when offline operations were affected by Covid-19 safety measures," says Chun Li, Chief Executive Officer of Lazada Group and Lazada Indonesia. "With the exponential growth opportunities available in the region, we are committed to providing women entrepreneurs with easy access to knowledge and tools to embrace and benefit from the digital economy."

Juliet Anammah, Chairwoman of Jumia Nigeria and Group Head of Institutional Affairs, said, "It is absolutely essential for women to be factored in, given the future of e-commerce. Africa is just at the start of its e-commerce growth trajectory. Now is the time to ensure women entrepreneurs are the leaders of Africa's digital journey."

The research was undertaken under Digital2Equal, an IFC-led initiative conducted in partnership with the European Commission which brought together 17 leading technology companies operating across the online marketplace to boost opportunities for women in emerging markets. Additional funding was provided by the Umbrella Fund for Gender Equality. The research was carried out by IFC in partnership with global evidence and advisory firm Kantar Public. 

About IFC

IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2020, we invested $22 billion in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit

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IFC: A Solutions Provider for Cities and Mayors
Cities are drivers of growth. Across the world, we are witnessing unprecedented urbanization and impacts from climate change and disruptive technology. Cities need to be livable and inclusive. They need to offer efficient services, including transport, housing, clean water, and sanitation. And they need to attract businesses, offer jobs, and provide an improved quality of life for citizens.

IFC: A Solutions Provider for Cities and Mayors

About IFC

  • Largest multilateral source of debt and equity financing for the private sector in developing countries
  • AAA-rated by S&P and Moody’s
  • Loans, equity, quasi equity, local currency and risk management products, capital markets access, and mobilization
  • Advisory services to help develop priority projects, structure and tender PPPs, and improve financial management
  • World-class social, environmental, and corporate governance standards and risk mitigation

Our approach

  • Drawing on our global network, IFC mobilizes commercial financing for priority projects, connects cities with capital markets, and helps diversify their investor base. We leverage World Bank and private sector expertise and offer project structuring and development support for public-private partnerships (PPPs) as well as community outreach and capacity building to facilitate implementation of infrastructure projects.

The IFC difference

  • IFC builds long-term partnerships through direct engagement with municipalities, subnational companies, and private sector solutions providers
  • We bring to bear our extensive market reach and in-house technical expertise to help mayors and municipal leaders address urban infrastructure implementation and efficiency challenges
  • IFC is uniquely positioned to support cities on urban transport, water and waste management, health, education, street lighting, smart city development, energy efficiency, and climate resilience
  • Since 2004, IFC has invested and mobilized over $9 billion in more than 280 projects in the Cities infrastructure space

Izmir, Turkey

  • Over the past decade, IFC has developed a long-term partnership with the City of Izmir, helping it access more than $400 million from IFC and other lenders to finance several municipal projects. This includes a tramway that connects remote areas to the city center, establishment of a smart traffic management system, upgrade of its seaport infrastructure, advice on an electric bus pilot project, improvement in its wastewater and solid waste management services, and creation of an open data management system. These projects have reduced average daily overall travel time for Izmir’s citizens by 25 percent and improved access to water services for 240,000 residents.

Bogota, Colombia

  • IFC supported the bankability and implementation of two key urban infrastructure projects—TransMicable and the extension of a bus rapid transit networks. First, we provided advice to improve knowledge about IFC’s Environmental and Social (E&S) Standards and the value in aligning with best international E&S practices. Next, IFC mobilized $140 million in private sector funds, ensuring key development impacts by enabling a dramatic reduction in daily commuting time—from three hours to 13 minutes—for nearly 670,000 residents.

Ekurhuleni, South Africa

  • IFC invested ZAR900 million ($53 million) in a 2020 bond issuance by the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, to finance critical infrastructure improvements for this important manufacturing and logistics hub. The municipality, which contributes 8 percent of South Africa’s GDP, is using the bond proceeds to upgrade and expand roads, electricity connections, and water and sanitation services to underserved areas, including informal settlements. Completed in record time—29 days from mandate to commitment—IFC’s investment responded to a need, given the lack of longer tenor financing in South Africa following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Casablanca–Settat Region, Morocco

  • IFC is supporting the Region of Casablanca-Settat (RCS) through a $100 million loan for road expansion and improvement, to enable two new tramway lines. In parallel, IFC is providing advisory services on a range of efforts, including strengthening RCS’ E&S risk management capacity, conducting a livelihood impact assessment related to the road improvements, developing a road maintenance strategy, and providing an upstream assessment to improve and expand RCS’ streetlighting.

Read the full publication here