EmpowerHER 2024: Gobi Partners Kickstarts International Women’s Month

8 March 2024

In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March each year, Gobi Partners proudly kicked off our EmpowerHER event on 1 March 2024. This event marks the beginning of a month-long celebration dedicated to recognising and honouring women founders and like-minded entrepreneurs within our ecosystem. Throughout this empowering month, we have planned two additional events tailored to uplift women entrepreneurs, along with sharing insightful articles and videos featuring selected women founders.

Our EmpowerHER event, drawing from this year’s theme, “Inspiring Inclusion,” brought together a diverse group of participants, from our valued founders and ecosystem partners to aspiring entrepreneurs across various sectors, fields, and industries.

Our Co-founder and Chairperson, Thomas Tsao, set the tone with an opening address emphasising our commitment to gender inclusivity, especially in funding: “Everyone knows the statistics – only 2% of women founders receive funding from venture capitalists. What we can do in this space is be allies for women across the board and to afford them better opportunities that they didn’t have access to before.”

Gobi Greater Bay Area Executive Director, Cindy Zhang emphasised this commitment, highlighting that gender-diverse teams have founded over half of our portfolio companies. She highlighted the importance of breaking down barriers at every decision-making stage, stating, “We don’t just actively support, but actively invest in women. Our support extends from the founder level to the boardroom, encompassing the products and services of the portfolio companies we invest in.”

One of the highlights of the event included a panel of esteemed portfolio founders, comprising Dr Jay Desan, Co-founder of BoomGrow; Nadira Yusoff, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Kiddocare; and Sharmeen Looi, Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of iMotorbike, who then took to the floor in an engaging discussion masterfully moderated by Malaysian Young Entrepreneurs ASEAN Association (MAYA) Founder and President Deborah Bottreau. The conversation centred on navigating the entrepreneurial lifestyle as a woman – covering topics such as work-life balance, career milestones, fundraising challenges, future visions, and overcoming gender-specific barriers.

To bolster the points raised, GUIDE Chief Finance Officer, Alvin Chin followed up with an eloquent elaboration on ways to be allies in the entrepreneurial world, empowering women-led and gender-diverse businesses. “We need to take steps beyond just making women-friendly policies, and to examine and understand how these broader issues at the bottom contribute to the issues through the top of an organisation,” Alvin stated. This, he emphasised, has to be done by not just identifying and analysing the higher bars that women face when it comes to achieving success as entrepreneurs, but also through taking active steps to counter them. 

On its heels, an exciting rapid-fire pitching session featuring over ten women entrepreneurs, each passionately introducing their businesses, goals, and aspirations to an enthusiastic crowd. This dynamic session added an exclamation point to a day dedicated to empowering and celebrating women in entrepreneurship.