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The Evolving Role of Women Entrepreneurs, Innovators, and Disruptors: The Fourth E-S-I Webinar

27 May 2021

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Jakarta, 27 May 2021: The fourth episode of ERIA’s Entrepreneurship, Start-Up, and Innovation (E-S-I) webinar series with the theme ‘The Evolving Role of Women Entrepreneurs, Innovators, and Disruptors was held on 27 May 2021 and attracted more than 250 participants from the Asia-Pacific region. This session was dedicated to discussing the role of women-led entrepreneurs and how they contribute to the post-pandemic recovery across ASEAN and East Asia. 

The four webinar speakers were:

  1. Ms Samira Tollo, CTO and Co-Founder, Elbaite, Australia
  2. Ms Swapna D. More, State Chairperson, Confederation of Indian MSMEs (Maharashtra), India
  3. Ms Jolene Lum, CEO, Urban Tiller, Singapore
  4. Ms Celia Boyd, Co-Founder, SHE Investment, Cambodia

Dr Giulia Ajmone Marsan, Director of Strategy and Partnership, ERIA, in her welcoming remarks, highlighted the importance of gender diversity to support the dynamic innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem across the ASEAN+6 region. ‘Gender diversity is highly important for the economic development of the region, as a growing body of research shows how diversity, including gender diversity, is good for innovation and finding the solution to complex problems,’ she said. She also mentioned that gender diversity in the private sector is good for businesses, as firms with a good proportion of women in their leadership tend to perform better.

Ms Samira Tollo, CTO and Co-Founder of Elbaite from Australia, began by sharing her entrepreneurial journey and explained how her company offers a solution to the emergence of Cryptocurrency and its potential risk. Samira shared her experience of being a woman entrepreneur from a developed country to inspire more women and youth to get involved in tackling global problems.

Ms Jolene Lum, CEO of Urban Tiller from Singapore, highlighted how innovation in her agri-food entrepreneurship journey has enabled her to tackle the problem of food scarcity and to make agriculture more sustainable for ASEAN. She highlighted the fact that listening to and understanding the challenges from the grassroots before integrating technology enables her to add more value to her business impact. 

Ms Swapna D. More, State Chairperson of the Confederation of Indian MSMEs (Maharashtra) from India, shared her story in the property sector where she was able to offer the best quality houses across India in a timely manner. Technology and innovation were key to her success in identifying real estate properties especially as she developed her first start-up. She also shared her views and tips on empowering women to entrepreneurship, such as the importance of mentoring programmes and learning how to develop flexible working arrangements to accommodate both work and family obligations. 

Ms Celia Boyd, Co-Founder of SHE Investment from Cambodia, explained her journey of building SHE as an incubator supporting women-led MSMEs to scale and create economic, social, and environmental impact for communities. Narrowing the gender gap and promoting women's participation are some of the key drivers for economic growth. She also shared some of the common problems women entrepreneurs face in rural Cambodia, for example, difficulties to scale up and grow their businesses, and that a majority of women become entrepreneurs out of necessity.

The webinar was co-hosted and moderated by Mr TJ Ooi, Founder of Curated Connectors, a Singapore-based start-up. During the Q&A session, moderated by Ms Lina Maulidina Sabrina, Programme Officer at ERIA, speakers discussed how younger generations should embrace entrepreneurship, challenges and solutions related to financial literacy for women-led entrepreneurs, balancing role between business and domestic roles, and social responsibility as entrepreneurs. 

ERIA’s E-S-I webinar series is organised under ERIA’s Strategy and Partnership Programme, funded by Australia.

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