Google has launched a new campaign to help Hong Kong women use the internet more effectively as a business tool.
The campaign, Women Entrepreneurs Online (WEO), was announced at Citicorp Centre in Tin Hau on Wednesday.
At the launch, Google director of public policy Susan Pointer said the new initiative was important. “Our goal is to help raise awareness, educate and inspire and hopefully bring on board a new generation of women entrepreneurs who will benefit from this kind of access to information and customers that the internet provides,” she said.
Pointer said many companies were still not making full use of technology. She noted that while most of Hong Kong’s economy was comprised of small businesses, less than half were online.
The WEO targets women who own businesses, have a controlling stake in start-ups, or were about to launch companies.
Google spokeswoman Sharon Ng said it also emphasised mentorship. “WEO hopes that budding and existing women entrepreneurs will … gain experience and inspiration from others.”
Louisa Mitchell, a researcher for The Women’s Foundation, said there were still areas where Hong Kong women could narrow the “gender gap”. She noted that around 85 per cent of high-growth initiatives were still started by men.
“I’m currently studying… how we can improve the situation,” she said.
Mitchell said women in business faced specific challenges. These included: modest ambitions; staff and management problems; and access to capital. “Women are also more reticent in taking out loans than men. Their usual source of capital is from family members,” she explained.
Mitchell also said business women still needed to make greater use of technology.
Esther Ma, founder of Prestique and a vice-president of the Golden Bauhinia Women Entrepreneurs Association, agreed. “You have to learn how to promote yourself. Put yourself out there, do networking,” she said. Organisations at the launch included The Entrepreneurs Club, the American Chamber of Commerce, Angels and Incubators, CoCoon HK, Entrepreneur Square and the Hong Kong Social Entrepreneurship Forum.
Google has already piloted the campaign in India, Singapore, and Russia.