The Straits Times: Committee set up to help women entrepreneurs in S’pore network, get mentoring

WEC launch
Go!Mama co-founder and chief executive Vivian Lee is part of a new committee that aims to connect women entrepreneurs with mentors. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN


SINGAPORE – One of the challenges of running a female-led start-up is getting customers and investors to see the importance of its products, said Ms Vivian Lee, co-founder and chief executive of Go!Mama.

Go!Mama equips buildings and other spaces with breastfeeding pods for mothers, an idea that came to Ms Lee after she faced struggles nursing her baby outside of the house.

“As our business is based on women’s needs, trying to explain to facility providers (who are mostly male) why they need our services is hard,” said Ms Lee, 38, who set up Go!Mama in 2021 with a friend, Ms Eunice Lim.

Ms Lee is now in a committee launched on March 27 that aims to connect women entrepreneurs with mentors.

The committee, set up by the Action Community for Entrepreneurship, wants to level the playing field for women in Singapore start-ups through activities ranging from knowledge-sharing events to mentorship programmes.

Communications and Information Minister Josephine Teo said at the launch event that while there have been marked improvements in female representation among entrepreneurs in Singapore, access to funding is still a challenge.

A recent OCBC Bank survey found that 30 per cent of new enterprises were founded by women in 2023, up from 23 per cent in 2018, noted Mrs Teo, adding that one observation about venture capitalists is that they tend to invest in start-ups run by “people of their own ‘tribe’”.

“If these tendencies apply to gender, then the odds against women start-up founders are tougher.

“According to a report from DealStreetAsia, start-ups with at least one female founder in South-east Asia account for less than 20 per cent of total private capital secured in 2023,” she added.

Ms Lee hopes that she can be a pillar of support for fellow women entrepreneurs through her committee work.

“A lot of mums became ‘mum-trepreneurs’ not by choice.

“After you become a mother, a nine-to-five job doesn’t work for you any more as you have to juggle caregiving, and your priorities in life shift,” said the mother of a son aged nine and a daughter aged four.

Ms Lee added: “Other than mentorship, we will also organise workshops and networking events, and curate resources for those that need them.”