Up and coming Singaporean women in business

Up and coming Singaporean women in business

Due to the government's grants, the high number of international investors and a series of high-tech co-working spaces and business schools around the city, Singapore has proved itself a great location for would-be entrepreneurs and up-and-coming startups. In particular, the island is renowned for its fertile environment which nurtures female entrepreneurs, ranking third in the Asia-Pacific region. Here are some of the boundary pushing women who are building an exciting startup ecosystem in Singapore and opening doors for the next generation of creative leaders.

Rachel Lim & Velda Tan

Shopping mall favourite and online success Love, Bonito was originally founded as BonitoChico at the humble age of 18 by best friends Rachel Lim and Velda Tan. Starting off as a blogshop, a small retail business hosted on platforms like Livejournal, this unique Singaporean endeavor (popular with teenagers in the 00s due to its low startup costs) was skillfully transformed into a popular retail chain. Now, the duo have 16 stores across the city and the region - with branches in Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia. They've also gone on to lend their magic touch to other endeavours - Velda launched a food and beverage business, lobster bar Pince & Pints, with her husband Frederick Yap in 2014, and then founded two different womenswear labels, Collate The Label and Our Second Nature.

Lyn Lee

Those with a sweet tooth will be familiar with popular food and beverage store Awfully Chocolate. Now with 15 outlets in Singapore and more in China's biggest cities, the brand has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Former lawyer Lyn Lee opened her first cake shop, a small outlet in Katong, in 1998, aided by a group of friends and spurred on by her desire to find a simple but perfect dark chocolate cake in the city. After months spent melting chocolate and experimenting in her kitchen, she nailed the perfect recipe and set up her first store, bringing customers on pilgrimages from across the island. Now, the brand has grown its repertoire while focusing on sinful chocolate goodies, and also opened cafes Ninethirty - focusing on comforting savoury food and their famous desserts - and cosy cafe Sinpopo, for those who want a relaxed place to meet friends for a sweet treat and drink.

Cynthia Chua

Many of Singapore's most iconic brands owe their success to the vision of the CEO of the Spa Esprit group, Cynthia Chua. From beauty and lifestyle stores to food and beverage outlets, Cynthia developed the umbrella company from a small office in Holland Village in the late 1990s, having worked previously in the banking and property industries. Since then, the group has developed and managed many quirky local brands, from cafe favourites Tiong Bahru Bakery, 40 Hands and Common Man Coffee Roasters, to farm and community centre Open Farm Community. Most impressive are her global grooming brands Browhaus and Strip, which now have outlets in major cities across the globe, from London to Mumbai.

Krystal Choo

There are few female entrepreneurs as inspiring as Krystal Choo, who started as a self-taught coder at the age of 15, designing websites, and moved onto the helm of numerous successful businesses, including two travel businesses - Wander, a travel app for singles, and ZipTrip, a travel organisation app. Her latest work is on Tickle, an incredible venture that's motivated by her desire to dispel loneliness and create connections in Singaporean society. This was motivated by her own experiences of depression and her observations of how social media perpetuated this, which inspired her to conceive of a technology that did the opposite - fostering real human connection by organising community-driven experiences.

Dr Ayesha Khanna (in photo)

Multi-talented entrepreneur Dr Ayesha Khanna has grown both for-profit and community-driven businesses in Singapore. Moving to Singapore in 2012, Ayesha was born in Pakistan and educated at Harvard University, and since moving to the city has set up Addo AI, a highly successful artificial intelligence firm used by high-profile clients like SMRT and SingTel. She has also founded a ground-breaking charity, 21C Girls, a non-profit venture that provides free training to girls in Singapore, creating the next generation of coders, artificial intelligence experts and businesswomen.