Successful female entrepreneurs provide a new face for business and technology
Female leadership is a major driver of economic growth and employment, yet there are still very few women leaders in high-profit, capital-intensive industries. The number of women in C-Suite roles is still greatly limited, with only 7.4 percent of listed Fortune 500 companies listed as having female CEOs.
Despite this under-representation, however, there are still many examples of strong female leadership in businesses all around the world. This holds especially true in developing economies throughout Asia, with women-owned startups disrupting the status quo – for the better.
Here are just a few of the top Asian female entrepreneurs who are leading the way in business and technology.
- Pocket Sun, Co-Founder of SoGal Ventures
Born in China and based in Singapore, Pocket Sun was one of the youngest entrepreneurs to be featured on the cover of Forbes Asia Magazine. At 24, Sun had already co-founded her venture capital firm, SoGal Ventures, with her business partner Elizabeth Galbut. She has also been listed in Forbes’s 30 Under 30 Asia in Venture Capital & Finance, as well as Harper’s Bazaar and BBC World News.
Sun started SoGal Ventures in order to answer demands for financing and capital among female-owned businesses, which are still often underfunded and lacking in support. Sun realized that by investing in startups run by women, she would be tapping into a highly profitable niche often overlooked by other venture capital firms.
While SoGal Ventures started with minor investments in a small group of 30 companies, it quickly grew into a community of 50,000 millennial women all around the world, making investments in more than 100 startups. Many of SoGal’s investments have already increased the number of women entrepreneurs leading the way in industries like consumer technology, digital health, and wellness.
- Maliha Khalid, CEO and Co-Founder of Doctory
Maliha Khalid founded Doctory as a way to combat inefficiencies in the Pakistani healthcare system, building a platform to efficiently connect people to the right doctors, resources, and healthcare specialists. Doctory’s innovative healthcare solution earned its place as one of the winners of the World Bank Group’s SDGs and Her Competition in 2021.
Khalid was inspired to start Doctory based on her personal experiences accessing healthcare in Pakistan. While suffering from a complicated illness as a teenager, Khalid found herself struggling to obtain the right medical advice for her illness, due to Pakistan’s overly complex referral system.
By working with several doctors across the country, Khalid was able to build an accessible database of medical professionals that saved users valuable time and money. Doctory now helps people all across Pakistan find specialist doctors directly through the application, while also functioning as a hotline service for patients to receive medical advice through their phone.
The app became a vital resource during the Covid-19 pandemic, when it became even more difficult for many people to access quality healthcare through traditional means.
- Gina Heng, Founder of Miss Kaya
After several years working in the finance sector, Gina Heng saw the need for accessibility to investment planning for women, who often need a little help when it comes to financial literacy. This inspired her to create Miss Kaya, a wealth management firm aimed specifically at modern women in Singapore and all across Asia.
Miss Kaya transforms the way that women handle their finances – by simplifying the ins and outs of investment while making it fun, simple and trendy. The FinTech firm provides users with asset management and several tools, including Singapore’s first licensed robo-advisor.
Prior to founding Miss Kaya, Heng co-founded a number of asset management firms, as well as the Marvelstone Group, a private investment group. In addition, Heng has extensive experience in the financial industry, including starting a number of asset management firms and acting as venture partner at Yozma Ventures in Korea.
- Dorothea “Dot” Koh, CEO and Co-Founder of BotMD
While Dorothea Koh was working as GM for Baxter Indonesia, Singapore, and Philippines, she noticed that clinicians and doctors throughout Asia faced several challenges when trying to find important information. This is because hospitals often store different data in a variety of places, including hospital call rosters, drug formularies, guidelines, and protocols on multiple systems. As a result, searching for this information can be a time-consuming, energy-draining process for medical professionals.
In order to address these obstacles, Koh founded BotMD, an AI assistant designed to help doctors retrieve information quickly and accurately by integrating data from various sources within each hospital into one place. The app exploded in popularity, increasing to 5,000 users in just 2 years.
Koh’s startup now helps doctors in more than 60 countries to perform their duties more efficiently and effectively. BotMD even supports HealthServe clinics in Koh’s birthplace, Singapore. HealthServe clinics provide healthcare to migrant workers, but are usually run by volunteer clinicians who have busy schedules or are inexperienced. BotMD was able to help these clinics take better care of the migrant communities they serve.
The future is female
Greater representation of women among executives clearly has great potential to have a positive impact on society. Women-owned startups introduce innovative ways of solving many of the socio-economic issues we face today. Female entrepreneurship increases access to goods and services for communities with limited resources, and is often a catalyst for technological development and positive social change.
With more women in Asia taking on executive positions and starting their own ventures, the list of female role models will only continue to grow – and so will the benefits to the economy and society.