These five women from Taiwan are smashing the glass ceiling with their boundary-breaking startups
Taiwan is pioneering the way for gender parity in Asia. Taiwan’s first female president, Tsai Ing-wen, comfortably won re-election in January—and her ascent to the territory's highest office has had transformative effects on the island's gender norms.
The margin by which Tsai won—with a landslide 57 percent vote share—demonstrates Taiwan's willingness to embrace more progressive gender norms compared with some of its neighbours. This is also reflected in the high numbers of female entrepreneurs in Taiwan. Since 2018, the gender gap between female and male entrepreneurs has narrowed considerably, with a reported 53 percent increase in women’s entrepreneurial activity.
Tsai's role in redressing gender inequality goes beyond that of a figurehead. Her re-election manifesto placed the issue front and centre. Her party's long-term care plan 2.0, for example, advocates for the government to take a larger role in caring for the elderly, freeing more women to enter the workforce.
Measures such as this have contributed to Taiwan's ranking as the 6th best market globally for women entrepreneurs, and the best in Asia, according to the Mastercard Index 2019. The report highlights that this is likely due to social norms that “grant women fair opportunities to rise as business leaders, gain tertiary education and to be perceived and accepted as successful entrepreneurs.”
Here are five women entrepreneurs from the Gen.T List who are helping to abolish traditional gender roles in Taiwan.
CC Chang is the co-founder of FunNow, an app that allows users to book entertainment and leisure services at the last minute. Unlike competitors such as Eric Gnock Fah's Klook, which is aimed predominantly at tourists, FunNow targets locals who want to find something fun to do in their own city. The app gained 600,000 users within three years and tripled its number of user interactions in 2018.
Jennifer Wang helped her father create The Home Hotel with the aim of supporting new cultural and creative industries in Taiwan. The Home Hotel transformed the hospitality scene in Taiwan by allowing guests to learn more about traditional Taiwanese culture. The initiative earned Wang the Emerging Entrepreneur Award for New Cultural Talents at the EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards in 2016, and both Home Hotel locations were listed as recommended hotels in the Michelin Guide Taipei 2018.
After founding Huaxin (Nanjing) Real Estate Development, Janice Chiao expanded her focus to include a new venture, VVG (Very Very Good). A platform of restaurants, cuisine services, boutique shops and living spaces, VVG works to promote "sustainable coexistence". The startup has since expanded into Mainland China.
Jamie Wei Huang
With celebrities like Lady Gaga and Kelly Rowland wearing her pieces, Jamie Wei Huang has taken the fashion world by storm. The Central Saint Martins graduate's AW14 collection took the first spot in Elle's New Talent Award, which she followed up by winning the Vogue Italy International Scout Award with her SS15 collection. Huang is also the first Taiwanese designer to take part in London Fashion Week's official show, as her eponymous label goes from strength to strength.
In 2010, Michelle Huang founded the New Fortune Group UK to provide customised services for those looking to purchase property in the UK. In 2016, she went on to found the Upper House Club, and has since been involved in several philanthropic initiatives focused on finding cures for rare diseases.