8 Women Entrepreneurs That Will Inspire You To Start Your Own Business

International Women's Day
From left to right: Kanika Thet from Cambodia, Khun Wisa from Thailand, and Yana Santiago from the Philippines

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Faces Behind ASEAN SMEs list down the women entrepreneurs we interviewed that founded their own business.

This list of 7 female entrepreneurs serves as an inspiration to all women who wanted to start their own business. If they make it, surely you can do it too. Learn from these women who are now making a story in their chosen industry.

1. Kanika Thet 

Akisani Toek Chhou Co., Ltd
Picture source: Courtesy of Akisani Toek Chhou Co., Ltd

Kanika Thet is the CEO of Akisani Toek Chhou co., Ltd (CBN-KH000000033) in Cambodia which started as a family-run business by her father whom is an electrical engineer.

The business was born with their heart to see “residents having better living standards and able to work or run business with the electricity that we provide. That vision is what has kept us going forward and fight off all the difficult situations that we have faced,” she shared.

FULL STORY: Kanika Thet: I am Providing Electricity in More Than 20,000 Cambodian Households.

2. Gigi Teoh 

The ice cream chef with a big heart! Gigi Teoh founded Idolci (CBN-MY000000562), an ice cream factory in Malaysia that does not have the usual fancy sound when you hit their doorbell, in fact, it has no sounds!  It’s connected to a light bulb, and when there’s somebody at the door, the lightbulb will become a signal to most of Idolci’s workers who are hearing-impaired individuals.

It all started from of Gigi’s passion for gelato making. And what’s inspiring is that she’s empowering the hearing-impaired community by providing a real job!

FULL STORY: Meet Gigi Teoh, Empowering Hearing-Impaired Community in Malaysia through a Gelato Factory. 

3. Miku Ebueza

Women Empowerment
Miku Ebueza with her husband Mandy showcasing Tali Ti Amianan products

Miku Ebueza is the co-founder of Tali Ti Amianan (Rope of the North) with CBN-PH000000944 in La Union, Philippines. Her business venture started when she was pondering on how she could help her local community.

Using the beach trashes she found, she turned it into stylish accessories. Fast forward today, Tali Ti Amianan has been producing accessories made out of upcycled materials and has been providing jobs on their local community.

FULL STORY: These Handmade Accessories Are Made Out of Trash!

4. Khun Wisa 

Fashion designer
The girl boss behind the stylish brand, NaWara

Penetrating the fashion industry through her fashionable shoes has been Khun Wisa’s dream. She turned her dream to reality as she founded NaWara with CBN-000000393 in Thailand with the goal to provide stylish yet comfortable shoes.

“Right from when I was a young child, I knew that I liked everything (related) with the fashion industry. I was particularly drawn to shoes,” she narrated. “All through my growing up years, during my education and in my working career, I kept a keen interest in fashion not only as a consumer but also with a wish to starting my own business one day.”

FULL STORY: Here’s What You Can Learn From Pursuing Your Passion To A Business

5. Yvette Celi Punzalan 

Yvette's Bag and Beads Collection
Top photo: Founder Yvette crafting a handmade product.
Lower photo: A worker of Yvette’s Bags and Beads Collection also crafting a handmade bag.

Yvette Celi Punzalan is the CEO of Yvette’s Bag and Beads Collections (CBN-PH000000955) which started just as a mere hobby that soon eventually became her business.

What striking with her business is that she employs women who are inmates and former inmates of Davao City Jail in the Philippines

“Without Ma’am Yvette, I don’t even know where to go after my imprisonment for six years. I am grateful to Ma’am Yvette for letting me work for her,” Angelica said, a worker of Yvette’s  Bags and Beads Collection.

FULL STORY: Bags of Hope: The Power of Second Chances

6. Yana Santiago 

Yana Santiago of Olivia and Diego Jewelry
Yana Santiago wearing an upcycled necklace from Olivia and Diego (C) O and D’s Facebook Page

Yana is the founder of the social enterprise, Olivia and Diego Jewelry (CBN-000000977). Her business produces jewelry out of upcycled materials (trashes) handcrafted by stay-at-home mothers and human trafficking survivors in Davao, Philippines.

“After graduating in Manila, I decided to go back to my hometown. I found this NGO online, Taikala, Inc. who supports women who were trafficked (and also former prostitutes). They were looking for a livelihood where these women can be more involved at the same time earn an income,” she narrated.

“I realized that I have a degree in fashion and I’m passionate about social entrepreneurship, so I proposed a social business that would give these women jobs.”

FULL STORY: Meet Yana, Making a Difference to Stay-at-Home Moms, Human Trafficking Survivors

7. Dinny Jusuf

ASEAN business, ASEAN business, ASEAN SMEs, Faces Behind ASEAN SMEs, Faces Behind ASEAN SMEs, Faces Behind ASEAN SMEs Indonesia, Indonesia SMEs, Southeast Asia Business, Southeast Asia SME, TORAJAMELO
Courtesy of Torajamelo.com

Dinny Jusuf was moved by the fact that the poverty rate in the population of 254 million people in Indonesia is an astounding 13.8%, with 70% among them are women (BPS, 2015).

She sees that these women’s only skill is back-strap weaving, but their creativity is limited by prices and low demands, and not to mention the culture appropriation by big fashion names that discredit the works of these artisans. It forces these women to find works in other countries, only to be abused by their employers, and some even came back with unwanted pregnancy. So she came up with TORAJAMELO.

TORAJAMELO, literally means Beautiful Toraja, was then set up to create a better life for the marginalized rural women weaver artisans in Indonesia and to rejuvenate the art and culture of Indonesian hand-woven cloth.

FULL STORY: TORAJAMELO, How Handwoven Textile Could Empower Women and Society From Cycle of Poverty


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