In celebration of International Women’s Day 2021 we are highlighting 7 outstanding women entrepreneurs from APAC and the meaningful impact they have on the environment, women’s empowerment, gender equality, and businesses worldwide.
International Women’s Day was created on March 8th, 1911 to celebrate the accomplishments and progress of women socially, economically, politically, and culturally. This year’s theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’.
In honour of this special day here are 7 inspiring and successful women entrepreneurs from the Asia-Pacific Region who are breaking barriers and setting extraordinary examples for women worldwide.
1. Sonalie Figueiras
Hong Kong-based social entrepreneur Sonalie Figueiras is the founder and editor-in-chief of Green Queen, an online magazine and multimedia platform focusing on sustainability and social change. Sonalie is also the founder and CEO of international certified organic food B2B platform, Ekowarehouse. Attempting to lead a sustainability-driven lifestyle in Hong Kong, Sonalie realised there is a deficit of accessible organic and eco-friendly products. Sonalie began to compile and share resources for sustainable living, founding Green Queen, a valuable and now international resource for veganism, sustainable living, and social influence. Green Queen specially focuses on alternative protein sources, the newest trend in sustainable living and the future for increasing global food supply demands. In founding Ekowarehouse, Sonalie has created a similar dynamic but on a B2B scale, connecting suppliers and buyers anywhere around the globe efficiently and increasing accessibility of organic food products, making waves in the global sustainable food industry. Tune in to Sonalie’s Zero Waste Journey Podcast to learn more about her story and insight on sustainable living.
2. Dr. Catriona Wallace
Dr. Catriona Wallace is a trailblazer in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), not just in her home country of Australia, but worldwide. In 2014, Catriona founded Flamingo AI and just last year, the Ethical AI Advisory. Catriona is the second woman in the world to run an American Stock Exchange listed company: Flamingo AI. Flamingo AI is a FinTech knowledge sharing and collaboration platform that uses AI to exchange information between businesses, run by impressive machine learning algorithms and building an expansive database. Recognising the challenges the world will be facing with the advancement of AI technology, Catriona founded the Ethical AI Advisory to raise awareness of the full potential of AI as well as guidelines and resources on how to develop and integrate ethical AI. Catriona is an inspiration, and her work in ethics will create a lasting impact in the near future, fundamental to when AI will be well developed and integrated in our daily lives.
3. Emi Takemura
Emi Takemura is the co-founder and representative director of FutureEDU Tokyo, a Japan-based education platform for parents, students, and educators looking to transform the education industry across Japan, now a well-known platform across Asia. Emi is also the co-founder of Peatix, a global events hosting and ticketing platform used in events all over the world. Emi co-founded Peatix in 2011 following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan, resulting in a surge of social events and people looking to connect to build up communities. Emi developed Peatix as a user-friendly platform to connect people and boost social wellbeing in Japan. Facing immediate success, Emi was able to launch this platform on a global scale, Peatix becoming one of the most well-used events and ticketing platforms to this date. As a social entrepreneur, Emi is also a TedX speaker and promotes awareness encouraging young women to participate in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) industries.
4. Janice Chiao
Janice Chiao is the founder of Taiwanese lifestyle and aesthetics platform Very Very Good (VVG) which highlights restaurants, boutiques, bookshops, living spaces and more, whilst promoting “sustainable coexistence”. VVG places emphasis on both aesthetics and appreciating and taking care of the environment, thus developing a strong and well-balanced brand that is a staple in luxury lifestyle and aesthetic products in Taiwan. VVG holds regular events including workshops, shows, bazaars, and exhibitions, and is perfect for those looking to keep up with upscale lifestyle living in Taiwan. VVG has now expanded into China and is well on its way to expanding further in Asia, sharing Taiwanese culture with its products and brand values. Janice is also the founder of (Nanjing) Real Estate Development.
5. Gina Heng
Singapore native Gina Heng is the founder of Miss Kaya, one of the only female-led FinTech firms in the world, launched with the goal of helping Asian women manage and grow their wealth, to support the lifestyles they want to have. Gina is also the Co-Founder and CEO of venture capital firm Marvelstone Group. Gina’s work as a women-focused FinTech entrepreneur has empowered women in Singapore and all across Asia, and provided important support and resources to other women entrepreneurs. For women looking to expand their wealth, Miss Kaya may be the FinTech solution for you, offering full support, information, consulting, and a growing community of women to share with and learn from. Gina is transforming wealth management for women worldwide, and is a leading example in women’s empowerment.
6. Shannon Kalayanamitr
Shannon Kalayanamitr is the founder and CEO of management consulting firm Ikigai Consulting and co-founder of Thailand and Southeast Asia’s online shopping platform, Orami. Leading the helm of young female entrepreneurs in Thailand, at Ikigai, Shannon is working to consult and solve 21st century challenges to businesses worldwide. In creating Orami, Shannon wanted to create a female-focused online platform that was user-friendly, and build a strong community amongst women in Asia. Her largely successful e-commerce platform is used in countries across Southeast Asia and continues to connect and help women as well as promote women’s rights and awareness in grassroots communities. There is still a deficit in women-focused products and services in Southeast Asia, and Orami has created a beautiful space for women to connect and build each other up.
7. Ngan Sau
Vietnam is consistently ranked highly in the world for having one of the highest percentages of women-led businesses in the country. Leading the growth and accessibility of female entrepreneurship is Ngan Sau, the founder of Twenty Tools and Facebook group Launch. Both of Ngan’s platforms focus on entrepreneurship and building a community and network between entrepreneurs in Vietnam and Asia. Twenty Tools offers the ‘tools’ entrepreneurs need to boost their businesses, providing information, surveys, start up knowledge, and first hand experience sharing from successful business people in Vietnam. Launch offers more tech-focused support and connections for young entrepreneurs, “a playground for the startup founders and entrepreneurs in Vietnam.” Ngan hopes to inspire creativity in order to initiate social change through her platforms and work in entrepreneurship.
How will you #choosetochallenge this year?