International Women’s Day – Celebrating Female Entrepreneurs AKA Towkays in Tech Company - Singapore

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international women day

To all our female readers, happy International Women’s Day! It's 2021 and women have been making great strides across all walks of society, not least in the business and start-up world, where there are plenty of formidable female entrepreneurs to recognise and celebrate. Tech, in particular, has seen great progress. Traditionally viewed as a male-dominated industry, the tech sector today sees 41 per cent of its workforce being women. More improvements can be made, particularly in education, where Singapore currently has one of the lowest share of female tech majors in the Southeast Asia region. However, this closing of the gap is heartening nonetheless. As such, this International Women’s Day, we are featuring some of the illustrious female founders (or co-founders) of tech start-ups and companies in Singapore. Caecilia Chu, Co-Founder of YouTrip

Photo Credit: Business Times

In 2018, Caecilia Chu launched Youtrip, Singapore’s first digital multi-currency and travel wallet, together with co-founder Arthur Mak.

YouTrip's contactless stored-value Mastercard lets users pay in over 150 currencies with no fees and utilising Mastercard’s competitive exchange rates. The stored-value card is accepted by the more than 30 million Mastercard merchants worldwide.

Hailing from Hong Kong and an alumni of prestigious schools such as the Wharton School of Business and Harvard Business School, Ms Chu worked in the finance industry for a number of years with stints in Merrill Lynch, McKinsey & Company, and Citi before leading her own fintech startup.

Youtrip went on to secure US$25.5 million in funding under a year and, despite launching in Singapore because of support from EZ-Link, a subsidiary of Singapore's Land Transport Authority, has since expanded to Hong Kong and Thailand.

Charis Liau, Co-Founder of Minterest

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Ms Charis Liau is the co-founder of Minterest, one of Singapore’s leading non-bank fintech companies. Minterest began as a popular online marketplace funding platform connecting investors with borrowers, and has since expanded into a wide-range digital investment platform.

Ms Liau worked for 20 years in the finance and banking sector. This experience in corporate and structured finance allowed her to identify the gaps in financing for small and medium-sized enterprises, which led to the decision to start Minterest with her co-founder Ronnie Chia in 2016.

Minterest is now backed by ARA Asset Management Limited, a leading APAC real assets fund manager with S$110 billion across 28 countries in its portfolio.

Val Yap, Founder of PolicyPal

Photo Credit: Business Times

In 2016, Val Yap founded PolicyPal, an insurance app that allows users to buy, track, and manage their insurance policies on one platform.

Ms Yap left her lucrative career as a Risk Assurance Associate at PWC in the UK to return home to support her family due to a family member’s ailing health. She experienced much grief in ascertaining insurance coverage and fighting for insurance payouts, motivating her to start her own company to help make insurance protection simple and accessible to everyone.

PolicyPal is the first startup to graduate from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Financial Technology Sandbox and has raised at least US$20 million in funding.

Tan Hooi Ling, Co-Founder of Grab

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Another Harvard Business School alumni, Tan Hooi Ling and her fellow Malaysian Anthony Tan founded Grab in 2012, with an initial grant of US$25,000 from Harvard.

Although having started the company, Ms Tan had to return to McKinsey (who sponsored her Harvard education) to serve out her bond and spent a number of years juggling her full-time career with her entrepreneurial efforts in Grab.

The Singapore-based ride hailing app surely needs no introduction, having expanded its services to include food delivery, parcel delivery, mobile payment, hotel booking, insurance services etc, and becoming the region’s most valuable tech unicorn, having secured billions in funding. Gillian Tee, Co-founder of Homage

Photo Credit: Today Online

Already an accomplished Silicon Valley technopreneur, Gillian Tee had previously founded Rocketrip in the US, a start-up to reduce travel costs, which had raised US$18 million (S$25 million) in funding.

Upon her return to Singapore in 2016, the Raffles Junior College graduate honed in on her affinity for the elderly and started Homage, a start-up which connects professional caregivers with seniors who need help.

Now operating in Singapore and Malaysia, Homage has become a leading care services provider with its core services including Care Assessments, Activities of Daily Living (ADL) assistance, Home Nursing Procedures, Home Rehabilitation services, including Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy, as well as Home Medical services.

Homage has won multiple awards in both social enterprise and tech categories, and is recognised by the Ministry of Health.

Elise Tan, Founder of Mentor For Hope

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Elise Tan is the founder of Gratitude and she launched Mentor For Hope in April 2020 - a ground up initiative, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. She wants to bring hope to the startup community by bringing together investors and business leaders to mentor startups that are struggling with challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

WIthin a month, more than a hundred mentors signed up for the programme, which matched them to up to 3 mentees each. They now comprise over 250 mentors and 320 startups across the world.

Beyond startups, Elise also wants to provide needy families in Singapore with food and assistance through donations to the programme. They are currently looking to raise S$50,000 for:

1. Provide for 25,000 lunch meals to persons in need
2. Help 25 families to survive for 3 months

Rhonda Wong, Co-Founder of Ohmyhome

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Rhonda Wong launched Ohmyhome with her sister, Race, in September 2016 as Singapore’s first hassle free DIY platform with top tier agent and mortgage advisory services. It is Singapore’s leading property technology solution and a CEA-licensed real estate agency.

As CEO of the company, Rhonda is responsible for the overall management of Ohmyhome and driving its growth. She is also a founding member of the inaugural Singapore PropTech Association and was also the winner of the Founder of the Year 2019 at the Singapore Rice Bowl Startup Awards.

Oh did we mention Rhona and Race were part of a canto pop duo group, 2R in 2007?

Neo Shi-Jia, Founder of Smart Towkay

Last but not least, our very own founder, Ms Neo Shi-Jia, started Smart Towkay in 2019. Graduated with an honors degree in Economics from the National University of Singapore, Ms Neo started out her career in financial planning, and has been assisting individuals and businesses in risk management, wealth accumulation and business insurance planning.

With more than ten years experience in the financial services industry, Ms Neo wants to help SMEs make better financial decisions when it comes to running their businesses. is the first comparison and aggregator platform for SME business banking products.

Through Smart Towkay, we help SMEs on their business banking requirements such as Temporary Bridging Loan, Mortgage advisory, Business Bank Account and Singapore Government Grants.

Celebrating the continued success of women in tech

As we can see, women have started and been responsible for some of the most successful and exciting tech companies in Singapore, and we are sure they will serve as an inspiration and model of excellence for more women to make their mark in the industry.

Have in mind any female tech-founders who deserve a mention here? Drop us an email to add on to the list!  “THERE IS NO FORCE MORE POWERFUL THAN A WOMAN DETERMINED TO RISE!” Read also: Best Telegram Channels Business Owners in Singapore Should Join


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UPDATED AS OF 30 May 2024
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