These are the women entrepreneurs making a difference through tech in Southeast Asia – Mashable SE Asia

Entrepreneurship and technology are generally dominated by men, giving many the perception that both are generally part of a ‘boy’s club.’ But things are slowly changing.

We’re gradually seeing more women reigning at the top.

A report in 2018 shows that only 20 percent of the world’s technology field comprises of women. But it seems that more are gradually gunning for top positions.

In that same year, Apple’s diversity report shows that 39 percent of its leaders under the age of 30 were women.

With technology on the rise, it’s expected to see more women in higher level positions in the industry.

Here’s a look at some entrepreneurs who’re making it big in the Southeast Asian tech ecosystem.

Tan Hooi Ling, Grab

IMAGE: Born2Invest

Grab is perhaps the most successful startup in Southeast Asia. It started as a small company that hailed taxis for you, but has since become a massive ride-hailing service with 2.8 million drivers.

Many people think that Anthony Tan was the only one that started up Grab. But without Tan Hooi Ling, the ride-hailing giant might have never even existed.

Tan received her education from Harvard Business School (HBS) where she was classmates with Anthony. Together, they joined the HBS New Venture Competition in 2011 and pitched a “mobile app that connects taxi seekers directly with taxi drivers closest to their location in the chaotic Malaysian urban environment.”

IMAGE: Nikkei

They won US$25,000 for their idea, which became their starting capital for Grab.

Tan has worked with companies like consulting firm McKinsey & Company and Francisco-based software company Salesforce.

Now she is the COO of Grab and heads the product, human resources, and customer experience for the company.

Cheryl Yeoh, MaGIC

IMAGE: Tech in Asia

Cheryl Yeoh was the founding CEO of the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), a government-funded agency that supports entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia.

She co-founded startups like CityPocket and before being headhunted as CEO of MaGIC by the Malaysian government.

Yeoh is also the founder of the #movingforward campaign which encourages venture capitalists to commit to a diverse, inclusive, and harassment-free workplace.

She was listed in TIME magazine as 2017’s Person of the Year and as a ‘Silence Breaker’ who spoke out against sexual harassment in the workplace.

Rachel de Villa, Cropital


Rachel de Villa is well known in the Philippines for using her programming skills to help farmers in her home country.

She developed Cropital in 2015, a crowdfunding platform that allows users to invest into farms or farmers to grow their crops. Users that invested will also get some returns during harvest season, ranging from 3 to 30 percent.

Just one year after starting up the company, de Villa was featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2016 for the Finance & Venture Capital category.

The company is now recognized and supported by many countries including the U.S., Netherlands, and Malaysia.

Josephine Chow, ShopBack

The Asian Entrepreneur

Josephine Chow is the co-founder of the ShopBack app, a service that unifies merchants and e-commerce platforms into one location. It also provides cashback deals when buying products from their listed providers.

Shopback was founded in 2014. Chow alongside her business partner, Lai Shanru, aimed to make online purchasing easier and reward customers for spending.

Chow now leads the international expansion for the company which she helped expand to seven countries, bringing in over 2,000 merchants.

As of 2020, Malaysian users have earned more than US$14.43 million worth in cashback, with the highest accumulated cashback earned by a single user being US$16,627.

Vivy Yusof, Fashion Valet

IMAGE: The Asian Entrepreneur

Vivy Yusof is the founder of Fashion Valet which she launched in 2010 together with her husband. Fashion Valet focuses on selling fashion apparels, shoes, and accessories.

It also offers modest and contemporary garments for women, men, and kids, from lingerie and accessories, to shoes and swimwear.

Yusof started with a capital of US$25,000 and managed to grow the company to carry over 150 brands.

From being just an online store in Malaysia, the brand now operates in 15 countries including Singapore, Brunei, U.K., U.S., the Middle East, and Australia.

National Women’s Day happens on March 8, stay tuned to Mashable Southeast Asia as we will be listing down the locations around Southeast Asia where the marches will be held.

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Cover image sourced from Beamstart and The Asian Entrepreneur.