Wanted: Women entrepreneurs to be role models for aspiring girls and women

There were 33 very happy entrepreneurs on July 9. They had just graduated from a 100-day start-up bootcamp organised by local accelerator Joyful Frog Digital Incubator (JFDI), where they learnt how to position their businesses.

But, where were the women entrepreneurs? More than 90 per cent were men. This is the scene at every start-up event. Alpha male geeks dominate them.

The Sunday Times story on July 13 on groundbreaking high tech women entrepreneurs seeks to promote them as role models for girls and women in schools and workplaces, who are thinking of starting their own businesses.

Why highlight women?

Dr Alex Lin of the venture arm of the Infocomm Development Authority sums it best: "It is important to recognise that different people will bring in different perspectives; a diversity of views will help entrepreneurs empathise with the needs of both men and women customers better."

Only with different perspectives, he told The Straits Times, "can we help entrepreneurs here find more worthy problems to solve, leading to potentially more successful enterprises."

Government agencies, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists helped to identify this group of remarkable 16 women entreprenuers and five venture capitalists who have blazed new trails.

I hoped the women I identified would not think this a sexist story. There were some who declined to be included because they had turned down any gender type of stories and/or did not want the publicity.

If women are not featured, there would not be role models for aspiring female entrepreneurs, I argued.

Understandably, they were all focussed on ensuring their start-ups and businesses were successful. Fortunately, the majority of women identified agreed to take time out for interviews and the photo shoot.

Unfortunately, not all the women could make the group photo shoot at the JFDI office in Ayer Rajah Industrial Estate. The 16 women who made it turned it into a networking event, exchanging name cards and sharing experiences.

I have been privileged to hear their entrepreneurship journeys and am inspired by their courage to take the step into the unknown.


Two women entrepreneurs share their experiences:

Pranoti Nagarkar Israni: Get out of your comfort zone to get more from life

Aileen Sim: Entrepreneurs need passion and belief

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