[EDITORIALS]Helping women in business

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[EDITORIALS]Helping women in business

The 2006 World Association of Women Entrepreneurs’ convention is being held in Seoul. The conference helps 600 businesswomen from around the world exchange information and establish networks, which help them expand their businesses. We hope that this convention will provide an opportunity for businesswomen to gain confidence and push their businesses into the global market.
Last year, Korea had 1.2 million businesses run by women, accounting for 37 percent of the national total. The growth in women’s businesses has also been rapid: About 250,000 new enterprises were established in just five years.
Yet women still face a high wall when doing business in Korea. Many businesswomen complain that if they try to get a bank loan in a rural area, they are told to ask for their husband’s guarantee.
In a survey by the Small and Medium Business Administration, 40 percent of businesswomen said the biggest obstacle they face is the low credit ratings financial institutions give them just because they are not men.
It is true that financial institutes assign these businesses low credit ratings, because more than 70 percent of the enterprises run by women have fewer than five employees.
To encourage the growth of women entrepreneurs, the government must provide them with support. Women enterpreneurs need protection for a given period, as they have entered the competition late and at the same time have no human resource infrastructure.
Last year, products manufactured by businesses managed by women only accounted for 2.2 percent of the total purchases made by public institutions.
Although by law, the public sector is required to place priority on buying products manufactured by companies run by women, it has never been enforced.
In countries like the United States, where businesswomen have a strong track record, the government not only guarantees such businesses, but also provides them with financial backing. Government support is also strongly needed when entering new markets.
The participation rate of women with an advanced education in the Korean economy is 57 percent, far below the average participation rate of OECD member nations. To establish the basis for continuous economic growth, the government should aggressively support businesswomen. After all, there are now more than 1 million of them.

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