In this challenging, fast-paced and often male-dominated business world, there are a few industrious ladies who have made a name for themselves in the world of commerce. In this issue, Top 10 of Asia takes a brief look at its list of the 10 most inspiring businesswomen in Singapore (listed in no particular order) who have gained much recognition and admiration in their journey to be where they are today.
JIA Boutique Hotels
Yenn Wong’s unique business acumen has brought forth some of Asia’s trendiest hotels and restaurants in the likes of her JIA boutique Hotels and her Graze and Issimo restaurants. Her JIA boutique hotels and restaurants are a collection of residential style boutique hotels and restaurants created for the design-conscious traveler. This young Singaporean has been recognised by Hong Kong’s City Junior Chamber as an ‘innovative entrepreneur’ and was also on the list of the top 26 ‘Asia’s Best Young Entrepreneurs’ by Businessweek some years back.Yenn was among the top 3 finalists for the “Rising Star Award” by Financial Times RBS Coutts’ Women in Asia Awards 2009. She was also listed as a “Young Business Leader” by the National Youth Council of Singapore.
Dr Jannie Tay
The Hour Glass Ltd
The Hour Glass represents a stable of over 60 brands across 25 boutiques in nine cities throughout Asia Pacific and is the most geographically diverse specialist luxury watch retailer in Asia. Dr Jannie Tay, its co-founder and managing director,was once voted the world’s top 50 leading entrepreneurs. She was also the first female president of the Asean Business Forum and the Singapore Retailers Association besides having won numerous awards for devoting a great deal of her time in many charity projects with The Community Chest of Singapore. Tay, noted for her dedicated work related to women’s issues also held several positions in various women’s organisations, including being the founding president of the Women Business Connection as well as International Women’s Forum, and the chairman of the Women for Women Foundation (Asia-Pacific) Inc.
Elim Chew, an award-winning entrepreneur, is the founder and president of 77th Street, the leading youth and young adults street wear fashion and accessories retail chain in Singapore. Chew who is also a highly sought public speaker on issues of youth matters, social entrepreneurship and work excellence was honoured as one of Forbes Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy in 2010. She also received the Responsible Leadership Award and Community Engagement Award from Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards 2010 and currently sits on over 20 boards and committees of public service, youth and community organizations such as the Programming Committee of *SCAPE, an iconic youth community space and the Culture and Education Action Crucibles for Action Community for Entrepreneurship of Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Jean Yip Salon Pte Ltd
Jean Yip started out in 1982 and it was her passion, determination and leadership that put the Group as Singapore’s award-winning leader in the hair and beauty industry. Today, the Group has expanded to more than 60 hairdressing, beauty and slimming outlets throughout the island state, with 5 in Malaysia, 2 in Indonesia and one in Guangzhou, China. The Jean Yip Academy, a division of the Jean Yip Group is the only school in Singapore with both hair and beauty certification accredited by the Institute of Technical Education of Singapore. Jean’s deep sense of social corporate responsibility has involved her organisation in charitable activities benefitting the needy, children with cancer and women’s breast cancer awareness campaigns.
Nanz Chong-Komo is a timeless inspirational woman – an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, business author and consultant all rolled into one. The founder of former ONE.99 Shop, a one-price store that became a successful multi-million-dollar business saw herself honoured with the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2000. However, due to economic downturn in 2003 Chong-Komo found herself in the clutches of bankruptcy. But she bounced back with optimism, reinventing herself and went to write “One Business, 99 Lessons” which became a national bestseller.Chong-Komo continued writing books after she was discharged from bankruptcy, publishing “Bringing Out the Entrepreneur in You” and “Overcome”. Her Nanzinc. Com is website that helps women to make smart choices and live a full life aside from serving as a platform for entrepreneurial minds.
FLY Entertainment Pte Ltd
Irene Ang, famously known for her role as ‘Rosie Phua’ in Singapore’s longest running sitcom, Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd, is the founder and CEO of Singapore’s first and largest artiste management agency, FLY Entertainment Pte Ltd. This versatile actress and astute businesswoman was named ‘Top 25 Most Powerful Businesswomen of 2008’ by The Executive Magazine besides having been nominated for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year some years back. Ang is also the first Singaporean actress to have been invited to join the board of The International Academy of Television Arts and Science. In 2011 Ang was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award (Movies) at the Singapore Entertainment Awards 2011 for her contribution to the film industry in Singapore.
It’s Just Lunch
The name, Anisa Hassan, stands tall in matters relating to dating, relationship and entrepreneurship. She is an award-winning entrepreneur and an internationally certified trainer, speaker and coach. Anisa is also the founding partner of The John Maxwell Team and she has won the Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2006. Yet, she is known for her role as the vibrant founder and managing director of It’s Just Lunch, a reputable dating agency. She has personally interviewed and paired thousands of her single, professional clients from all over the world and she now aims to awaken the desire in one million singles to be in meaningful relationships.
Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd
Claire Chiang, currently the Senior Vice President of Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd and a co-founder of Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, a leading developer and manager of premium resorts, urban hotels and destination spas around the world was once Singapore’s Woman of the Year for her numerous contributions to a more civil and pluralistic society. Chiang has also served as a nominated Member of Parliament besides being one of the first two women in 89 years to be admitted to the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She pioneered the group’s retail business in 1996 and has since overseen the launch of more than 70 retail galleries worldwide. She also co-authored a book, “Stepping Out: The Making of Chinese Entrepreneurs” and has won the National Council Book Award for it.
Mercatus Capital Pte Ltd
Her first job was as a shampoo girl in her mother’s salon, and she was only 14 years old. Fast forward 24 years, Rina Neoh is now a seasoned entrepreneur and investor with a proven track record in setting up and developing companies across Asia Pacific. Armed with her corporate and entrepreneurial experience, she co-founded Mercatus Capital Pte Ltd, a homegrown incubator and venture accelerator with more than 30 startups in 6 Asian countries- Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, India, China and Hong Kong. She did not stop just there; Neoh plays important roles in firms like Adiaco Pte Ltd and is experienced in the establishment of “Greenfield” business in Asian Countries in East Timor, Malaysia and Philippines.
Before her entrepreneurship journey began, Annie Yap was already a young, dynamic and prominent leader in Singapore’s human resources industry. She was the Winner of the Leading CEO Award at the Singapore Human Resources Institute’s HR awards in 2007 and was responsible in bringing The GMP Group’s growth over the last 10 years. Yet, Yap decided to leave her comfort zone and set off to embark on an entrepreneurship journey and thus, AYP Associates, a specialist in executive search and placement business, was established in 2009. Under her leadership, the company has now grown to 35 staffs and operating from 4 different countries in Asia. Since its inception, the recruitment group has also expanded into the Hong Kong and Indonesia markets under the AYP Associates and Premium Staffing brands.