THE PHILIPPINES was rated 9th in a global study of conditions conducive for the development of female entrepreneurs, MasterCard said in a statement.

It cited the results of its MasterCard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, which gave the Philippines a score of 68.0 on a scale of 100. The index measured the “top 10 markets with the strongest supporting conditions and opportunities for women to thrive as entrepreneurs.”

New Zealand was considered the top country on the list with a score of 74.2, followed by Sweden (71.3), Canada (70.9), the US (70.8), Singapore (69.2), Portugal (69.1), Australia (68.9) and Belgium (68.7). Rounding out the top 10 behind the Philippines was the UK with a score of 67.9.

The statement said “ budding and established women entrepreneurs around the world continue to progress despite gender-related cultural biases that can create significant roadblocks hindering them from advancing their businesses.”

“Women entrepreneurs have made remarkable strides as business owners around the world, even as they work to achieve their full potential. We believe that by drawing attention to their efforts, we can further support and empower women in their drive to run successful businesses and lead richer, more fulfilling lives,” Martina Hund-Mejean, Chief Financial Officer of MasterCard, was quoted as saying.

MasterCard said many of the top 10 are developed countries, although even in New Zealand “society is less receptive towards female entrepreneurs. Despite these circumstances, women business owners in New Zealand have risen above the challenge, pulling their market to the top — and for the second year running.”

MasterCard’s study of female business ownership also showed that Ghana had the highest percentage of female owners at 46.4%, followed by Russia (34.6%), Uganda (33.8%), New Zealand (33.0%), Australia (32.1%), Vietnam (31.3%), Poland (30.3%), Spain (29.4%), Romania (28.9%), and Portugal (28.7%).

MasterCard found that key conditions were critical for the development of female entrepreneurship, including access to financial services, ease of doing business, strong support for small firms and quality of governance.

Key hurdles to female entrepreneurship were gender bias, lack of self-belief, and lack of access to venture capital, MasterCard said.

The study evaluated 57 economies representing 78.6% of the world’s female labor force.