Entrepreneurial spirit isn’t a gender-specific thing. Women possess the same potential as their male counterparts. In some cases have been able to demonstrate even higher competence is not only backed by science but also by real-life success stories where a woman-led startup could sideline others and emerge as the winner. Multilateral organizations, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, have emphasized that increased participation of women in the workforce across the world has added to the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And that the 21st-century growth will depend substantially on how women respond to the call of founding new businesses. Economists have written lengthy articles that the global GDP growth will be far higher than otherwise, given that economies provide a red carpet to women entrepreneurs.
All that said, let’s note where the city-state of Singapore stands when it comes to fostering the entrepreneurial spirit of women. In a study conducted by IHS Markit, a prominent research enterprise, Singapore has been ranked as the third best city in the Asia Pacific region for appreciating women bosses. Although the city-state outshine by enabling environment for women that exists in Sydney and Melbourne (which are ranked 1st and 2nd respectively), the strides that Singapore has made in the past few decades cannot get overlooked. The Dell’s 2019 Women Entrepreneur Cities Index, as the study is named, shines a spotlight on how cities nurture talent and eventually informs the world at large the significance of participation of women in the startup scene that has lately become the most-talked-about subject in the global economy.
Read More : Dell’s 2019 Women Entrepreneur Cities Index
To further measure the success of Singapore in how the city-state is benefitting from women-led businesses, why not talk about some of the real success stories in the startup scene of Singapore and know what makes these woman-led enterprises a force to reckon with.
Soo Boon Koh, Founder of iGlobe Partners
What separates Soo Boon from the rest is her affluent background and experience in the finance and venture capital domains. Soo Boon was associated with the Development Bank of Singapore for 12 long years and had multiple successful stints with other well-known enterprises in the finance sector. It includes her time with Vertex Management Inc., where Soo Boon led numerous investments by the firm in a variety of companies. She founded iGlobe Partners with a vision to back novel ideas in the corporate sector and increase shareholders’ value.
iGlobe Partners, the startup Soo Boon envisioned and brought to reality in 1999, is a prominent venture capital firm headquartered in Singapore. The firm claims to have global operations with interests in the Silicon Valley, the Mecca of startups, and many leading Chinese cities. The firm has invested alongside the industry behemoth Sequoia Capital in many ventures. iGlobe Partners holds a stake in emerging tech startups and has adequately addressed the funding needs of founders with unique ideas and innovative products. Hippo, a home insurance firm, and NerdWallet, a US-based personal finance company, are two of many other businesses where iGlobe Partners holds portfolio.
The success of Soo Boon and her venture, iGlobe Partners, demonstrates that experience in the field where a person aspires to found a new business can be the key to sustainability. Millennials can take a leaf out of her professional career and note that extensive domain knowledge is as vital as the passion for building a new business.
Ayesha Khanna, Co-founder of ADDO AI
Technology dominates the startup scene of Singapore, and the next name in the list of success stories of women entrepreneurs is associated with artificial intelligence and its use in solving real-world issues. Ayesha Khanna co-founded ADDO AI as a firm that specializes in artificial intelligence solutions for clients. She leads the firm as its chief executive officer and brings on table her rich experience of new-age tech. Ayesha Khanna isn’t an amateur entrepreneur. Her stint with the Wall Street that included advisory services to clients and her authorship of multiple articles in prestigious publications have all made her a highly specialized woman in the field of AI that is otherwise dominated by men.
ADDO AI provides data management services to businesses with a focus on information processing with data engineering and automation. That data is one of the most valuable assets today is the part where the firm has focused its strength. Data extraction, its storage, and its transformation into a useful resource is where the firm holds expertise in. ADDO AI claims to have worked on multiple projects for different clients, including developing a disease surveillance system, data transfer from databases to a centralized data lake, and resource management services to hospitals.
Ayesha Khanna has demonstrated that by doing what you know and do best is always a rewarding deal. The startup scene of Singapore, where new-age tech solutions have been instrumental in the success of many startups, is well served by women entrepreneurs who come with a great understanding of changing technology and its application in problem-solving.
Rachel Lim, Co-founder of Love, Bonito
The startup space isn’t about venture capital and emerging tech alone. And this is where Rachel Lim sensed an opportunity and emerged as one of the leading entrepreneurs in fashion in the city-state of Singapore. Rachel started with a blog shop, which she had named BonitoChico, and eventually turned it into a prominent fashion label in Singapore. Rachel Lim is a part of the famed ‘dropouts’ in the startup scene of today. She quit the university in the final year to focus on the business venture.
The Love, Bonito fashion label isn’t restricted to stores in Singapore and is even sold in as far as Hong Kong and Indonesia. The e-commerce platform has also opened new brick and mortar stores to take advantage of both technology as well as the love of people to have real-life experience of shopping in the store.
The success of Rachel Lim has its own set of lessons for aspirants in Singapore. Perseverance can, more often than not, be the ultimate key to unlocking the doors to financial triumph. On the other hand, selling clothes can never be the typical ‘groundbreaking’ idea for today’s entrepreneurs. However, the patronage that her venture Love, Bonito has earned is reflective of the fact that no venture in any field whatsoever can be termed obsolete, given that the founder is ready to add a differential to it.
Cynthia Chua, Founder of Spa Esprit Group
Cynthia Chua is a renowned name in the lifestyle entrepreneurship space of the city-state of Singapore. It has taken her beauty ventures into the international market with a focus on London and New York. Having begun the journey for success in 1996, Cynthia Chua is today a name to reckon with not only in the beauty industry but also in the food and beverages domain.
Spa Esprit Group comprises of nine companies and has shops in multiple locations. The services provided under the umbrella include wellness, interior design, premium beauty products, and retail management. It is truly a diverse brand and has in its fold brands like Skinny Pizza and Strip.
The success story of a beauty and lifestyle startup tells that any space in the Singaporean market can be an area of focus of new-age entrepreneurs, and the only ingredient they need to make it a formidable player is will and uniqueness. Cynthia Chua recognized that foreign beauty products once dominated the Singaporean market and that there was enough space for a homegrown brand to not only set up business in Singapore but also cater to customers in advanced cities such as Shanghai and London.
Lyn Lee, Founder of Awfully Chocolate
Cake shops have been in existence since time unknown. And that it may not sound like the perfect startup idea at a time when emerging technologies are fast replacing conventional businesses is also true. But not for Lyn Lee, the founder of Awfully Chocolate. Of course, there was inspiration. Lyn says that although the cakes on offer before her entering into the field were all beautiful but they lacked a distinct taste. It was the principal stimulus that inspired her to open an outlet that many said would never take off. From that single outlet in a not-so-busy Singapore street to having multiple outlets today in as far as Hong Kong, Shanghai and Jakarta, Lyn Lee’s venture has undoubtedly come a long way.
Awfully Chocolate began its journey in 1998 with the ambition of ‘putting the cake back into the cake and make it chocolate’ as is stated on their official website. The vision was clear, and Lyn Lee proved all her critics wrong. That a humble bakery product can lead to entrepreneurial success in the 21st century is something Lyn has shown to the aspiring entrepreneurs of the city-state of Singapore.
The success of Lyn Lee’s venture also establishes that the domain one enters may have been well tapped in the past by other entrepreneurs; however, adding to it a variation can make all the difference.
The list is not exhaustive, and many other women in the Singaporean startup scene validate the fact that female-led enterprises are in no way inferior to those helmed by men. In fact, in many cases, women have outshined men.
Read About: Top 10 Young Entrepreneurs in Singapore 2018