The social entrepreneur on pushing for change and creating sustainable impact

There is a nerd in all of us—whether driven by the satisfaction of solving mathematical problems or obsessing over the mythical world in Game of Thrones. For Audrey Tan, her passion lies in alleviating poverty in Southeast Asia through technology.

“I’ve tinkered with technology since I was a teenager, and created my own fashion e-commerce website when I was 18,” says the Generation T 2018 honouree. “In my third year at the National University of Singapore, I got to study technology entrepreneurship at Stanford University as part of the NUS Overseas College programme. It was then that I also did a product marketing stint at Qik, a live video mobile application firm (later acquired by Skype), which opened my eyes to the benefits of using tech for good.”

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Photography: Longfei/Munster+LongFei; Hair and make-up: Angel Gwee, using Kevin.Murphy and Laura Mercier
Above Photography: Longfei/Munster+Longfei; Hair and make-up: Angel Gwee, using Kevin.Murphy and Laura Mercier

Upon completing her overseas stint in 2009, Audrey returned to Singapore and started PlayMoolah with her friend Min Lee to increase financial literacy among youths. In 2016, she established Angels of Impact with social impact investor Laina Greene to fund, support and provide marketplace access to female-led social enterprises battling poverty in the Asean region. Here, she tells us more about the inspiration behind her social entrepreneurial ventures and how she's hoping to impact society.  

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Audrey and her Playmoolah co-founder, Min Lee (right). Image: Audrey Tan
Above Audrey and her Playmoolah co-founder, Min Lee (right). Image: Audrey Tan

Sparking change

“The idea for PlayMoolah came to me at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. I asked myself, ‘What is the root cause of financial illiteracy today?’ When we established the start‑up, Min and I drew inspiration from behavioural scientist BJ Fogg’s methods for designing persuasive technology. Our mission now is to empower youths and make them realise how money can help them achieve their goals and create value in the world.”   

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Creating connections

“Angels of Impact connects women-led social enterprises fighting poverty in Asean with a global network of funders and corporates, which supports them through market access, mentoring and funding. We currently work with 15 social enterprises, have customers in Google and Bloomberg, and have published a book on what women can do to end poverty.”

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Image: Unsplash
Above Image: Unsplash

New perspective 

“Since going into social entrepreneurship, I’ve become more aware that while we live in a world of abundance, much inequality still exists in society and there are people who are still starving. So it’s crucial to share what we have with those who don’t.” 

Natural calling

“If not for Angels of Impact or PlayMoolah, I would still be finding other ways to tackle poverty. I’m doing what I’ve been called to do and will try to serve others in any capacity that I can. Once the work is done, it will be time for me to move on to the next thing I can help with.”  

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Image: Unsplash
Above Image: Unsplash

Audrey says…

Happiness is…
When my loved ones are happy, healthy and able to live their dreams 

A living person I admire…
Pope Francis 

Most underrated virtue…

Unexpected passions…
Sports, music, art and fashion 

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