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5 Vibrant Malaysian Female Entrepreneurs You Need To Know

Savvy, intelligent and powerful—meet some of Malaysia’s female total trailblazers!

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There is no doubt that women in Malaysia play a significant role in the household and they can indeed help in economic development, too. Over the years, we’ve seen entrepreneurial activity conducted by women has indeed seen a sharp improvement and they have become more significant players in the entrepreneurial prospect. In fact, statistics have shown that Kuala Lumpur is one of the top 10 cities in the world for women entrepreneurs! 

Though, even women entrepreneurs have become more important players in the entrepreneurial landscape, the number is still considered small as compared to businesses owned by men. In Malaysia, of 10.8 million workforces, only 37% are women—and in regard to entrepreneurial jobs, women are less than the men. Despite there being a long way to go until there’s gender parity in entrepreneurship, Malaysia is still home to a collection of women who are helping to close that gap.

Here are five women in Malaysia who are helping to smash the country’s entrepreneurial glass ceiling––and paving the way for other women to do the same. 

1. Tan Hooi Ling

(Source: Google)

If you’re one to rely on Grab to get around the city, you have Tan Hooi Ling to partly thank for that. The former Business Analyst at McKinsey & Co. and Senior Director at Saleforce.com co-founded the app with her classmate, Anthony Tan, while at Harvard Business School. She started up a mobile app that can connect taxi seekers directly with taxi drivers closest to their location in the chaotic Malaysian urban environment. 

The inspiration came from a comment by Anthony’s friend about the safety issues facing female taxi passengers in Malaysia. First launched in Malaysia in June 2012, GrabTaxi has since become a major player in the Southeast Asian market, which is now available in 26 cities globally. Born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Tan is a self-professed introvert, keeping a lower profile than her co-founder, Anthony Tan, but admitted she likes it that way.

2. Alia Bastamam 

 

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As one of the leading and internationally-acclaimed fashion designers in Malaysia, Alia Bastamam needs no introduction—her work and achievements so far speak for herself. In 2017, Alia picked up the ‘Designer of the Year Award’ at Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week, leading a clear direction for her labels and placing her amongst the country’s leading fashion designers. Just last year Alia is treading on international waters for the first time with the brand’s inaugural appearance in Milan Fashion Week; showcasing her latest Spring/Summer 2020 collection.

 

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A post shared by Alia Bastamam (@alia6astamam)

As a female designer, Alia Bastamam’s design rule is simple: to only create clothes that she would wear. The mode of ‘empowered feminist’ shines through her designs with confidence, overflowing with strength and sensuality. And as a shy hippie with a slight taste for heavy metal herself, there is undoubtedly a wafting hint of bohemia and rock in the balance of her creations. Celebrated by women, her resort-centric designs come from an attentive and inclusive understanding of the female character and the feminine silhouette. 

3. Jenn Low 

 

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In 2010, Jenn Low left the world of accounting to begin the Wanderlust + Co in the bedroom of her Melbourne apartment, and she had approximately RM10,000 of startup money and a makeshift lightbox made of cardboard to photograph her designs with. Now, Wanderlust + Co has gained an impressive footing in the international scene—thanks to Hollywood’s A-lister such as Jessica Alba and Kendall Jenner, and Selena Gomez.

 

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A post shared by Jenn Low (@jennlow.wco)

Wanderlust + Co jewellery signature pieces combine classic shapes with modern styles. The brand has now presence in nearly 30 countries and is stocked across 400 retail partners globally. with over 70 percent of its revenue coming from the US. Born and raised in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, this 35 years old beauty has certainly no doubt made her mark in the jewellery world!

4. Noor Neelofa

From teen beauty queen to successful entrepreneur, Noor Neelofa now runs her own empire after establishing the hugely popular scarves brand Naelofar Hijab in 2014. Fast forward to 6 years later, she now has two other byproducts under her leadership which include NilofaGroup and KasihNeelofa. 

 

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Neelofa or her real name, Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor, took a road less-traveled when she founded Naelofar Hijab as she yearned for something that’s more sustainable. She identified a gap in the modest wear market and came out with a brilliant idea. Neelofa, 31, was listed on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia 2017 under Retail and E-commerce category after Naelofar Hijab successfully brought in a revenue of RM50 million in 2015, in sales with 10% of it coming from international purchases.

 

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Neelofa once again made Malaysian proud when she was crowned as Lancome first ever Ambassador for Southeast Asia region—making history as its first hijab-wearing face. She will now represent all three of the brand’s key categories (skin care, make-up and fragrance) across Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand and star in the brand’s first Eid campaign for 2021.

5. Raja Jesrina Arshad

 

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Driven by her passion for health and wellness, the young royal, Raja Jesrina Arshad co-founded PurelyB—an online portal that aims to provide guidance and solutions for living a more healthy and sustainable life in Southeast Asia. Since it first launched in 2015, PurelyB has skyrocketed, producing television content and being selected as one of 20 Malaysian startups for Stanford University’s [email protected] entrepreneurship programme.

 

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A post shared by Jesrina Arshad (@jessarshad)

PurelyB provides customized holistic wellness items and substance direct on nutrition, fitness, mindfulness that are catered and fit for Asian cultures and lifestyles. One of its most mainstream items is “Pegaga by PurelyB”. To this point, PurelyB has left their mark globally to 8 countries including USA, Australia and The United Kingdom and has won several awards such as ASEAN-BAC “Rising Entrepreneur of the Year” Award 2017, Red Herring Asia Winner 100 Winner Year of 2015.

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