Women-led firms have immense potential: visiting U.S. official

Taipei, Oct. 11 (CNA) Firms led by women have immense potential, and in order to unlock the opportunities of an innovation-driven economy, countries need to ensure that their female entrepreneurs have access to capital and markets, a visiting U.S. official said Wednesday in Taipei.In a luncheon speech at the first Yushan Forum, Michele Schimpp, deputy associate administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Investment and Innovation, spoke about the importance of small businesses and highlighted women-led firms.She said October is National Women's Small Business Month in the United States and people are celebrating the fact that women's business ownership rates are up 27 percent, and they are employing millions of workers.But, like Taiwan, these women-led firms in the U.S. are largely single-employee operations, she said."To truly unlock the opportunities of an innovation-driven economy, we need to ensure that female entrepreneurs have access to capital, access to markets, and support to grow their areas of expertise, business and jobs," Schimpp said."The potential is immense," she went on, citing an estimate by the McKinsey Global Institute that said if women played the same role as men in labor markets, as much as US$28 trillion could be added to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025.Schimpp also stressed the importance of small businesses to an innovation-driven economy."I know our hosts from Taiwan and many of you in the room are motivated to create innovation-driven economies. To do this, small businesses are key," she said.She added that trade and regional cooperation are paths to vibrant small business growth.Initiatives such as the U.S.-Taiwan Global Cooperation and Training Framework have allowed experts, government officials and civil society leaders from countries in the Asia-Pacific region to attend workshops in Taiwan on such topics as public health, energy efficiency, women's empowerment and e-commerce, Schimpp noted.Also speaking at the luncheon was Kazuo Aichi, former director- general of the Defense Agency of Japan, who said that Taiwan and Japan enjoy a deep bond and can cooperate in many fields, such as long-term care services, as well as environmental, social security, national security and medical issues."Yushan Forum: Asian Dialogue for Innovation and Progress" is taking place Oct. 11-12, organized by the government-affiliated Prospect Foundation to boost Taiwan's regional status and forge a closer relationship with countries in the region.The conference's main theme is "fostering economic and social connectivity with Southeast and South Asia," under the country's New Southbound Policy.It features speakers and participants from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, including India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Belgium and Denmark.