DWEN Returns to APJ: 10 Years of Celebrating Women Entrepreneurship


Ten years ago the first DWEN (Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network) Summit was hosted in Shanghai. Two main factors shaped the idea of DWEN – the fact that entrepreneurs are the force that historically leads the economy out of financial crisis, and that women business owners still struggled to access the capital, networks and resources they need to take their businesses to the next level. Fast forward to today, as delegates gathered from around the world for DWEN 2019 in Singapore, I was thrilled to see how the network and the event has evolved and grown from 50 to over 5,000. It has become such an incredible network for women entrepreneurs to foster growth and innovation.

The spirit of DWEN is all about sharing stories and insights including the journeys of not-so-successful entrepreneurial ventures and their trials and tribulations. A culture where we allow space for failure, and recognize what it teaches us, ultimately delivers better results.

Failure is not a bad word

The concept of success from failure is not new, especially to the technology industry. Product and service innovation, agile processes, and R&D, is all about learning from failure and making improvements.

Hearing from our many excellent speakers, I was really struck by their openness to share examples of when they got something wrong and how they learned from it – such as Sherry Boger from Intel who talked about cultural nuances that she had to adapt to when she moved to APJ.

For women entrepreneurs who are scaling their businesses beyond borders, understanding these differences and learning from a network of peers along the way will help them navigate this.

APJ driving innovation

Thinking about innovation and development, DWEN’s return to the APJ region is significant to the global adoption of emerging technologies. Women entrepreneur led organizations are leveraging these emerging technologies to facilitate business growth and enable societies and communities.

We are seeing leadership in technologies like 5G, AI, blockchain, and the region holds many shining examples of digital cities and IoT deployments. It holds great potential and when women entrepreneurs can fully embrace this opportunity, it’s almost hard to imagine the full possibility.

How APJ cities enable growth for women entrepreneurs

Minister Grace Fu, Singapore’s Culture and Youth Minister, joined the panel on Going Global: Doing Business in Asia, and offered insights into some of the complexities around the role of women in business and in society in Singapore and Asia, such as expectations around family obligations or finances.

The WE Cities research assesses indicators for cities around the world that facilitate women entrepreneur’s business growth. In our 2019 research, we found:

  • The top three cities in APJ were Melbourne, Sydney and Singapore
  • The region ranks highly in the technology pillar and is the top improving region in that respect. Women in APJ have the power to use technology as an enabler and driving force behind their businesses, more than anywhere else in the world
  • The region also performed well in the ‘talent’ pillar, but there are improvements to be made for ‘culture’ and ‘markets’.

The WE Cities research gives us these insights to help drive conversations with governments and stakeholders, with the overall goal of facilitating women entrepreneurs who are engines of future economic growth.

Our work through the DWEN platform is all about growth – building foundations, making connections and addressing challenges, to enable women entrepreneurs to grow their organizations. And the DWEN network has grown, too!

As Karen Quintos mentioned in her recent post, DWEN is evolving. We are hosting regional DWEN events and are proud to have launched new DWEN chapters – most recently in India. These communities at the ground-level will continue important conversations throughout the year.

I can’t wait to see what comes next as a result of these forces of innovation, growth and failure, come together.

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