SINGAPORE – Singapore ranked third in the Asia-Pacific in fostering growth for women entrepreneurs, though its progress between 2017 and 2019 was outpaced by several other cities around the world, according to a study by US tech giant Dell.

Talent and technology were Singapore’s biggest strengths, while access to capital and a supportive market were its greatest weaknesses, according to Dell’s 2019 Women Entrepreneur Cities Index. The Republic ranked behind Sydney and Melbourne in the region.

Among the 50 cities in the study, Singapore’s ranking fell to 21st in 2019 from eighth in 2017, the last time the index was updated. The report noted that the city’s decline in rank was due to tight competition from other cities, which made greater strides in nurturing women entrepreneurs.

Coming in first was the San Francisco Bay Area, which edged New York City down to second place for its progress in providing more women entrepreneurs with capital and mentors.

The study was conducted in partnership with research firm IHS Markit to rank cities based on the characteristics or “pillars” of capital, technology, talent, culture and markets. The overall rating is based on 71 indicators, 45 of which have a gender-based component.

Singapore’s talent pillar benefited from increasing its top school and business school rankings. It also increased its pool of professionals needed to help scale businesses.

“The country has a robust and well-developed internet infrastructure, allowing female entrepreneurs to remain connected on-the-go and ensuring fluid business operations,” the report also noted.

In the capital pillar, the city ranked 25th globally as venture capital funding to female entrepreneurs increased, though still by a smaller margin compared to other cities. Women in Singapore also saw less crowdfunding and fewer female founders, the report showed.

The markets pillar took a bruising as well due to a lack of female board members and accelerators. Dell’s report also noted that gender parity pay continues to be an issue.

“Despite Singaporean men entering the workplace two years later than women due to national service, they are then accelerated past women at the mid senior level while women begin to leave the workplace or take up less burdensome roles to turn their attention to their home obligations,” the report said.