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Asian business sites bring women to the web - 12/2000

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In a region of the world where commerce is traditionally male-dominated, several new websites are helping Asian women to bring their businesses online.

Online communities such as WomenAsia.com, Womenjapan.com, and Webgirls.com offer advice, training, case histories, and job listings to female business owners and entrepreneurs in Asia. The market for female-driven business information is large in the country, with women running 35 percent of small and medium-sized businesses.

Dotcom investors have been quick to spot the gap in the market-in the past year, over 50 new women-oriented sites have been launched in Japan alone.

However, the gender gap in Asias online population is large, with only 22 percent of the continents females accessing the Internet. Of the 15,000 members in Indonesias largest businesswomen's organization, just 12 percent have email accounts. WomenAsia.com is hoping to increase Net use among women in Asia by conducting Internet training programs.

While female-oriented business sites are bringing more women into Asia's digital workforce, their future looks uncertain. Analysts are doubtful whether these sites, most of which rely heavily on advertising, will show profits. WomenConnect.com, a global website for businesswomen, was a recent casualty of the dotcom fallout.

www.latimes.com