Women Venture Asia launches to support female entrepreneurs in Singapore

Gender gap in entrepreneurship – a much-discussed topic today even as we have made great strides across the century as a society. Founders Harmin Kaur, Deborah Widjaja and Dr. Sandhya Sriram seek to mitigate these factors and empower women entrepreneurs through their latest non-profit venture, Women Venture Asia.

Globally, there is a funding gap where only 2.3 per cent of the total funding of venture capital firms goes to female founders. Furthermore, 2.4 per cent of venture capital firms have female founding partners. While the gap in South-East Asia is narrower with 23% of women venture investors involved in an investment decision-making role, the gap still persists. In Singapore, 27.5 per cent of business owners are women. This entrepreneurial gender gap is due to several factors including a lack of access to robust networks and social capital, perceptions of gender bias, and challenges in scaling up which could lead to the business stagnating over time. In Asia, new ventures from women tend to be smaller in terms of employees, revenue and profit, while women entrepreneurs can be more risk-averse, conservative and have fewer established external networks. WOMEN VENTURE ASIA INAUGURAL PANEL DISCUSSION Women Venture Asia aims to bridge the gender gap in entrepreneurship by providing access to new networks and linking up the talent pool of women entrepreneurs with investors and business leaders. At its launch on 17 October at the Shangri-La Singapore, there will be panel discussions on “Building More Inclusive Entrepreneurial Ecosystems” and “Bold Ambition - The Way Forward”, with various panellists including, Shanru Lai, Co-Founder of ShopBack, Carrie Tan, Founder and Transformation Coach at Lightbearers and Magnus Grimeland, Founder of Antler and Co-Founder of Zalora. “The opportunities are abound for investors, venture capitals and firms to cast their net in purposefully reaching out to a more diverse demographic and fostering a culture of inclusion. We would like to work alongside venture capitals and entrepreneurs to better understand the challenges from different stakeholders. In understanding these challenges, we want to create a collective call to action to advance inclusion within the broader ecosystem,” says Harmin. “At the same, we will also be working with women entrepreneurs and leaders through initiatives designed to support them in reaching their full potential.” As a former banker at Goldman Sachs in Singapore, Harmin recognises that a large economic opportunity can be optimised by addressing entrepreneurial gender differences. An analysis by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) shows that if women and men worldwide participated equally as entrepreneurs, global GDP could ultimately rise by approximately 3 per cent to 6 per cent, boosting the global economy by US$2.5 trillion to US$5 trillion. Beyond the economic benefits, fuller participation of women entrepreneurs also brings new products and solutions to the market, improving the lives of the wider society. “We want to support women to dream bigger, to recognise what could be holding them back and have bold ambitions. I believe that the vibrant network of role models we build today will in turn inspire more women entrepreneurs to benefit the overall economy tomorrow,” says Founding Board Member and Champion of Women Venture Asia, Deborah Widjaja, who is Deputy CEO at Bund Center Investment. Fellow Founding Board Member Dr. Sandhya Sriram, Group CEO and Co-Founder, Shiok Meats, says, “We are excited to begin this journey with other women entrepreneurs, leaders and investors in Asia. We want to make the difference in empowering women to unlock their potential and support them in realising their entrepreneurial ambition.” Women Venture Asia also features champions from established Asian entrepreneurial families who have a penchant for doing good and a shared passion for supporting the next generation of women entrepreneurs. “We want to be supporting the next generation of female entrepreneurs because we want to help build a more inclusive ecosystem that our daughters and granddaughters can thrive in,” remarks Deborah. CLOSING THE GENDER GAP Women Venture Asia wants to empower women by enabling greater access to robust networks, creating access to funding, and building capacity that not only includes business skill sets, but a more holistic approach to include mental resilience and wellness. The organisation will be holding coaching programmes and networking events connecting women with other successful business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs. Women Venture Asia will also convene stakeholders with more in-depth research and discussions, a coalition that champions, shares best practices and affects change. Programmes are designed to serve women, entrepreneurs and leaders, at different growth stages, from the early startup phase to those in the growth and expansion phase, as well as already established businesses.

By on Fri, 30 Sep 2022 10:19:00 GMT
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