Asia-Pacific was the worst performing region in Dell's 2019 Women Entrepreneur Cities Index, which tracks progress cities across the world have made in nurturing women entrepreneurs.
The report, produced with IHS Markit, ranks 50 cities based on five characteristics or "pillars" of capital, technology, talent, culture and markets. It compares the 2019 results to the 2017 results.
APAC had the highest concentration of cities that moved down the overall ranking compared with two years ago, with seven cities moving down, two staying the same, and three moving up.
Australian cities Sydney and Melbourne are the top in APAC for women entrepreneurs, at 12th and 13th place overall, followed by Singapore at 21st place. Six APAC cities sit in the bottom 10, including Seoul (41), Bangalore (43), Kuala Lumpur (44), Shanghai (47), Jakarta (49) and Delhi (50).
The US dominates the top 10 list with six cities, including San Francisco as the top city overall. Europe has three cities in the top 10 (London, Paris and Stockholm) while Canada’s Toronto is represented at ninth.
While Kuala Lumpur sits low on the overall list, it is the seventh best city for the ‘markets’ metric, which evaluates whether the city offers a fair and level market, in 2019. Sydney is the fifth best city for talent and the fourth best for culture, with Melbourne following at fifth place.
Beijing and Tokyo both feature in the top 10 for capital, which evaluates whether cities offer equal access to financial capital, and Hong Kong and Singapore both feature in the top 10 for technology in 2019.
Asia-Pacific had the second lowest average of women board members, with Seoul and Tokyo amongst the lowest cities, with women on fewer than 10% of corporate boards.
Looking at overall improvement, Tokyo was the only APAC city to rate in the top 10. The Japan capital had the second highest improvement in the talent category and seventh for capital.
While Tokyo was bumped out of the bottom 10, Seoul fell into it.
Hong Kong had the highest number of indicators improve over the two-year period in APAC, with 39 indicators up, followed by Beijing, Delhi and Sydney at 38.
Singapore fell from eighth slot to 21, and ranked in the bottom 10 for the size of its improvement between 2017 and 2019.
But the report claims this is not because it has done poorly, but because competition from other cities is tight. Singapore still ranks in the top half and is ahead of the other Asian cities in the index.
Talent and technology are Singapore’s strongest pillars. The talent pillar benefitted from increasing its top school rankings as well as its business school rankings. It also increased its pool of professionals needed to help scale businesses.
The markets category was hampered by a high cost of living, and access suffered from a lack of accelerators and relatively few female board members, which decreased from 2017. In the capital pillar, while VC funding to female entrepreneurs increased, relative to other cities the venture capital funding was somewhat light.
Singaporean women also saw less crowdfunding and there were fewer female founders as well as a slight decline in high net worth individuals. Its culture score was relatively lower due to few female role models or leaders, relatively less press coverage of successful women in business compared to 2017, and lack of non-discrimination in hiring policy, the report found.