Former Miss Singapore International helps women entrepreneurs in SE Asia fulfill their dreams
From Singapore to the Philippines, one businesswoman is bent on helping her like-minded fellows achieve their entrepreneurial dreams—all with the help of a community of Southeast Asian women willing to share their knowledge and expertise in their respective business endeavors.
Called Soul Rich Woman (SRW), the online business platform and members-only network of female entrepreneurs is headed by 34-year-old Genecia Alluora Loa.
The community covers 15 countries in Asia, with the Philippines as its latest market. Loa says she decided to bring the network here because she saw that the timing was “ripe” for female entrepreneurship in the country.
“This is also reflected in the recent Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2017, which says that the Philippines is one of the countries where female entrepreneurship is the highest,” says Loa. “However, [the] Philippines, like other Southeast Asian nations, ranks low on providing support for aspiring women entrepreneurs. Addressing this challenge is one of SRW’s aims: to bridge the gap of the nonexistence of support group/ mentors for aspiring women entrepreneurs, [and to] let them know that they are not alone, that there are a lot of other women willing to help them get started and succeed.”
Initially named the You Are Possible Community in 2008 under personal coaching company InQueenz Pte Ltd., the SRW brand was officially established in 2015.
It now has around 10,000 members whose focus is developing what Loa calls the three main factors that drive female entrepreneurship: self-belief, skills and networking.
One can sign up to be a member for free through the network’s website, soulrichwoman.com, but a minimal fee is required for one to access the community’s educational resources (10,000 hours of online videos and tutorials), local networking sessions, one-on-one mentorship with relevant business leaders, and business-starter templates.
“SRW’s approach to date has been to progressively build up a network of high-quality female mentors in countries across the region to help aspiring and existing female entrepreneurs. Once a member, [one is] allowed access to an active online community of female entrepreneurs sharing knowledge, skills and personal advice across the countries where SRW is now active. This knowledge-sharing means that aspiring female entrepreneurs in the Philippines can directly connect with women in similar industries around the region and seek advice, contacts or do business together,” Loa explains.
Loa says she came up with SRW after going through a string of personal entrepreneurial challenges, particularly when it came to mentorship and business knowledge sources.
The “serial entrepreneur” and business coach began earning for herself at the age of 14 because of financial hardships encountered by her family.
“My mother enrolled me [in a program where I could] get an aerobics instructor certificate. I didn’t want to do it as a young teenager because I was upset about the reality. Why me? Imagine telling a teenager that you have to work and support yourself through school instead of just focusing on your studies. It was hard because we were financially sound the past 13 years of my life and suddenly it became financially tough,” she says.
Despite her initial apprehension, Loa worked hard to support herself through school. Aside from aerobics (at 14, she was the youngest instructor in Singapore), Loa taught line dancing, yoga and also did some waitressing.
Eventually, she was able establish the Queenz*8 Business Group, the umbrella organization of companies such as InQueenz, QueenzKing (which manages Loa’s cafe, Coffee:NowHere), and QueenzApps (e-commerce developer).
Loa is also a beauty queen, with a few titles under her belt, such as Miss Singapore International 2006 and Miss Singapore Chinese Cosmos 2011.
She was also a runner-up of Miss Singapore Universe in 2006.
Eager to share her business acumen with the Philippines, Loa says SRW will also focus on helping Filipino women entrepreneurs with digital marketing.
Citing a study by Southeast Asian content network GetCraft, Loa says many of the country’s marketers still need assistance with this subject.
“[The study entitled] ‘State of Digital Marketing in the Philippines’ [says that] 57 percent of Filipino marketers admitted to being unsure of how digital marketing drives business objectives—which is one of our main training pillars in SRW. In the Philippines, there is a lack of understanding about the role digital marketing plays in a business, highlighting the need to intensify education and training,” says Loa. “Hence, with this, we’re going to continue our mission to move the needle on female entrepreneurship across Southeast Asia and the Philippines to help women who are afraid to pursue entrepreneurship.” – INQUIRER.NET