NGO to empower female business leaders

A NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisation (NGO) which is working to empower female entrepreneurs and business leaders in Singapore was launched yesterday.

Called Female Founders, the independent non-profit outfit focuses on research, policy and advocacy action to support female entrepreneurs and aspiring business leaders.

Female Founders is led by (front row, from left) Dr Meri Rosich and Ms Roshni
Mahtani. Other members are (back row, from left) Ms Katarina Hasbani, board
member, head of Female Founders policy; Ms Sonya Madeira, head of Female
Founders public relations; Ms Lorena Espi, programme operations manager;
Ms Waki Yoneoka, board member, head of Female Founders research; and
Ms Joanna Catalano, board member, head of Female Founders advocacy. It will also work to highlight the quality and variety of existing female-led enterprises here.

The organisation's founding team is led by Ms Roshni Mahtani, chief executive and founder of Tickled Media; and Dr Meri Rosich, CEO and founder of App Strategy Labs and Quality Time.

Female Founders also plans to set up operations in India and Japan, with "customised approaches" for each country.

Ms Mahtani noted that while Singapore women are highly educated and employed, they represent only 5 per cent of tech start-ups and 8 per cent of Singapore-listed board members.

"In the Global Gender Gap report, Singapore ranked 55th out of 153 states. We aim to eliminate this inequality, and target to increase the number of female-led organisations to 20 per cent by 2020," she said, and quipped: "It takes a woman to figure out a woman's problem."

The organisation wants to bring new data and statistics-based analysis into the debate through its research programme, and intends to work with key research institutions in Singapore.

Female Founders will also spread its message through events, talks and debates.

The rest of the executive committee comprises Ms Joanna Catalano, former vice-chair of the Interactive Advertising Bureau Singapore; Ms Katarina Hasbani, a public policy specialist with EIR Global; Ms Waki Yoneoka, founder of photo-tech start-up Memom; and Ms Sonya Madeira, founder and managing partner of Rice Communications. More than 100 people attended the launch at Insead auditorium.

"Women are still under-represented in entrepreneurship, particularly in this part of the world, despite studies revealing that companies with more women on their boards outperform their rivals," said Dr Rosich.

"As business women leaders ourselves, we will make Female Founders the premiere source of information on best practices for female business leaders of the future."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2015, with the headline NGO to empower female business leaders. Subscribe