The Women Entrepreneur Awards (WEA) returned after a three-year hiatus, and this 4th edition — which took place on July 25, 2023 — at Pan Pacific Hotel, promised to be an inspiring event with new award categories.
Established in Singapore in 2016, the WEA network has since launched in an additional 12 Asian countries with a vision to empower women owners in Asia.
During the night’s elegant black-tie gala dinner, more than a dozen awards were presented, honouring successful and promising women entrepreneurs who have made significant contributions to both the business community and the social fabric of society.
In addition to the SME (small and medium enterprise) category, the awards encompassed two new categories: Large/Listed Companies, recognising entrepreneurs on a broader scale, and the Corporate category, acknowledging the accomplishments of C-suite executives and women professionals operating businesses or non-governmental organisations.
This year’s award ceremony held particular significance as it marks the first gathering since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020 — a time of immense challenges for businesses worldwide. Nevertheless, amidst these difficulties, certain exceptional women entrepreneurs demonstrated remarkable resilience and achieved remarkable success.
In light of their unwavering determination, the Phoenix Award was established — a special accolade to recognise five women entrepreneurs from previous three batches of winners who navigated the hardships of the pandemic and emerged even stronger, setting a commendable example for their peers.
Notable winners in the SME category include Emily Sim and Queenie Yang. Sim, director of Panelouge and Superstructure, creates building materials using sustainable sources. Her family is involved in timber commodities trading, however, during her apprenticeship in Japan, a stroll through a forest made her realise the importance of protecting and preserving nature. This led her to starting her own company focused on replacing wood as a building material with more sustainable alternatives.
Yang, founder and chairman of TCMedi Spa Joyre Group, hails from China and came to Singapore in 1998. She started a TCM outlet in a tiny shop with three beds in Bishan and has since grown the business to house 14 brands which include products and services in areas such as aesthetics, skincare, TCM spa, and a confinement centre for new mothers.
The newly introduced Phoenix Award — a category specially created for this year’s event — sees the likes of Novie Djayayanti Tjoa and Anna Gong as two of the five women up for recognition. During the pandemic, Tjoa, managing director of Eatz Group, invested in human capital by cross-training her staff to ensure that every employee was competent in almost every aspect of the business.
She also took that time to invest in a new manufacturing facility that was three times bigger than its previous premises. This new facility enabled her company to expand operations, allowing it to tap on markets that the company had never ventured into before, such as institutional catering.
Gong, who is the founder and CEO of Perx Technologies, was forced to downsize her manpower by 25 per cent during the pandemic. Thankfully, in May 2020, the company managed to raise an interim round of financing, which gave them another 12 to 18 months of runway. Still, with less funding, they were able to manage resources more efficiently — leading up to a growth of more than 100 per cent from when the pandemic hit until now.
|SME Category||Corporate Category||Large/Listed Category||Phoenix Award|
|Annie Yap, Founder, AYP Staffing||Wong Sze Keed, CEO, AIA Singapore||Ng Gim Choo, Founder and Chairwoman, Etonhouse International Holdings||Elsie Liow, Managing Director, Adepture Consulting|
|Germaine Chow, Co-founder, Crestbrick and The I Quadrant||Angel Ding, Managing Director, Angliss Singapore||Novie Djayayanti Tjoa, Managing Director, Eatz Group|
|Althea Lim, Co-founder and CEO, Gushcloud International||Tay Bee Kheng, President, ASEAN, CISCO Systems||Anna Gong, Founder and CEO, Perx Technologies|
|Yang Rong, Queenie, Founder and Chairman, Joyre Group||Simone Ng, Founder and Executive Creative Director, Simone Jewels|
|Yen Lim, CEO, Madam Partum||Sylvia Lim, Founder and Group Managing Director, The Emporium Group|
|Kelly Keak, Managing Director, MTM Skincare|
|Emily Sim, Director, Panelouge and Superstructure|
|Voyce Chan, Business owner, Voycestas LLP|
Additionally, it was announced that there will be a change in entry requirements for its Women Entrepreneurs Club, an exclusive networking group for women business leaders to share, learn, and tap on each other’s experience and potential. The club’s name will also be changed to Women
Chairman of the Women Entrepreneur Awards, Stephanie Cheo, stated, “In the past years, we had been approached by many other women entrepreneurs who repeatedly asked to be part of the club. I am happy to announce that from this year, we have decided to open up membership to the Club by invitation as well. I hope in doing so, we can build a bigger network of like-minded women leaders.”