From e-commerce platforms to transportation companies, here are the women entrepreneurs in Singapore you need to be keeping an eye on

This story was updated on May 2, 2020.

Singapore’s ability to attract and support high-achieving women entrepreneurs is falling behind as other major cities make strides forward, according to a study by technology giant Dell. Ranked eight out of 50 countries worldwide in 2017, Singapore fell to 21st place in 2019, but is still one of the best performing cities in Asia.

Factors that impacted Singapore’s ability to compete as a top choice for women entrepreneurs include its high cost of living, lack of accelerators, relatively few female board members and lower press coverage of successful women in business compared to previous years.

However, Singapore is far from alone. According to Gené Teare, a researcher for business information platform Crunchbase, “Five per cent of venture dollars globally have gone to female-founded teams in the last five years. In contrast, male founders have raised 86 per cent of venture dollars. Male and female co-founded teams have raised 9 per cent of venture dollars.”

Despite there being a long way to go until there’s gender parity in entrepreneurship, Singapore is still home to a collection of women who are helping to close that gap. Here are five women entrepreneurs from the Gen.T List you need to know in Singapore.

Tan Hooi Ling

Tan Hooi Ling co-founded Singapore-based transportation company Grab with fellow Gen.T honouree Anthony Tan in 2012. Fast-forward eight years and they’ve expanded across nine countries, creating jobs for millions of drivers along the way. The app also started GrabCare in February, an on-demand 24/7 ride service for healthcare professionals through the Covid-19 pandemic. The Harvard graduate says her motivation is to create value for others: “What’s the point in living if you’re not doing something worthwhile?” she says. Hooi Ling is part of the National University of Singapore (NUS) board of trustees, and was named to the board of the Economic Development Board (EDB) in January. 

Ankiti Bose

Set to be the first Indian woman to found a billion-dollar startup, Ankiti Bose is trying to shake things up in the business world. “I’m a young Asian woman,” she says. “If you look at the founders and CEOs of tech and financial companies, how many people like me do you see?” Her company Zilingo is an e-commerce portal that gets the majority of its revenue comes from B2B services. Founded in 2015 when she was just 23, the company claims to be valued at close to US$1 billion. In April 2020, Ankiti shared via LinkedIn that Zilingo would be supplying personal protection equipment such as Nitrile gloves; N95, KN95 and surgical masks; single-use medical gowns and medical-grade protective suits for hospitals across India, Indonesia and Singapore.

Rachel Lim

Rachel Lim's label Love, Bonito is focused on catering to modern Asian women, trying to change perceptions of where the centre of gravity lies for innovation in the fashion industry. Beginning as a blogshop, Love, Bonito soon became an online retailer with original designs and is now found in 21 stores around Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and Hong Kong. The retailer is also one of the supporting partners of #SGpaysitforward, an initiative to deliver 100,000 care packs to vulnerable communities in Singapore during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gillian Tan

Gillian Tan leads not one but two of Singapore’s most successful online video production networks: Munkysuperstar Pictures and Clicknetwork. The platforms produce online reality lifestyle videos on a variety of topics including beauty, shopping and travel, and average a million views weekly, making them among the most popular in Singapore. Clicknetwork was the first YouTube channel in Singapore to reach a million subscribers and now has more than 378 million views.

Charlotte Chen

Serial entrepreneur Charlotte Chen most recently founded Everyday For Every Body, a cruelty-free Australian sunscreen and body care brand established in 2018. Previously an investment banker, she also co-founded Spottly, an online platform where users can find, share and collect photos and notes on their favourite travel destinations; and digital marketing agency Empyr+Co, where she provided branding strategies to companies such as Dolce & Gabbana.

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