8 Malaysian Female Entrepreneurs You Should Know Who Have Made It Big In Their Fields
They broke the glass ceiling.
1. Vivy Sofinas Yusof
A mother, model and mogul, Vivy Yusof, as the co-founder of the multimillion-dollar online retail Fashion Valet, is an icon in her own right. To-date the platform has more than 300 brands from across Southeast Asia. Vivy is also among the growing number of Malaysian women who are trying to revolutionise the hijab's contentious image.
She rose to prominence with her blog, ProudDuck.com, where she has been writing for more than seven years about her college days in London, her family, and her work. Her posts, there and on social media, are distinctly aspirational.
2. Mac Chung Lynn
As the Director and Group CEO of Nando's Malaysia and Singapore, one of the most successful F&B franchises in the region, Mac Chung Lynn is one of the most established female entrepreneurs in Malaysia.
After more than 17 years in the business, and currently with 69 Nando's outlets in Malaysia and 11 in Singapore under her belt, Mac has now started to take a step back from day-to-day activities to focus on a more strategic role.
She was also handpicked for the new season of Life Inspired's original series Tastemakers, which recognises the entrepreneurial achievements of innovative business personalities from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
3. Cheryl Yeoh
As L'Oreal's one of the "Top 10 Women in Digital", Cheryl Yeoh was appointed the first CEO of MaGIC where played a leading role in setting up since it was launched to much fanfare by US President Barack Obama and PM Najib Razak in April 2014.
While Cheryl is now stepping down as the CEO of MaGIC (her tenure at MaGIC will fall three months short of two years when she leaves on 14 January 2016), she intends to get back into the business of launching and running a startup herself.
4. Tan Hooi Ling
A former Business Analyst at McKinsey & Co., and later a Senior Director at Saleforce.com, among other things, Tan Hooi Ling followed the same path as many smart engineers. But in 2011, while at Harvard Business School, Ling and classmate Anthony Tan entered a startup competition at the school, and their company, GrabTaxi (better known in Malaysia as MyTeksi) was born.
GrabTaxi was launched in Malaysia in June 2012, has since become a major player in Southeast Asia — and a big threat to Uber in the country. From its humble days as a small company, under Ling's co-leadership the app now has a presence in 26 cities with over 110,000 drivers across the Southeast Asian region.
5. Ai Ching Goh
After quitting her day job at Procter & Gamble (P&G), Ai Ching Goh co-founded Piktochart, a web-based app that helps non-designers create beautiful infographics. Piktochart was one of the Startup Arena finalists at Tech in Asia Startup Asia Singapore 2012 and has since acquired more than 170,000 users and is currently profitable.
Married to the CTO of her company, Ai Ching embodies not just the idea of an ideal entrepreneur but is also one: lean, agile, and hungry. Under her leadership, Piktochart has been recommended by Forbes Magazine and is being used by over 10,000 businesses worldwide.
6. Yasmin Rasyid
A marine biologist by profession and an environmentalist by passion, Yasmin Rasyid has been crusading for the environment since 1998, working with government agencies, private entities, NGOs and also academic institutions.
In 2005, she founded EcoKnights, a not-for-profit environmental organisation which focuses on environmental education and awareness, community empowerment and development, and environmental communication. Yasmin, who is also leading the Malaysian Environmental NGO (MENGO) which is a coalition of environmental NGOs, says the organisation strives to empower young minds.
7. Christy Ng
Hers is a true rags-to-riches story. To make extra money during her school days, Christy Ng sold flowers at a local metro station. It was this entrepreneurial spirit that saw her start selling shoes at the tender age of 18 at flea markets in Petaling Jaya. She procured these shoes from a source in Thailand and made a small profit off each one.
In 2012, after two years of working for a Swiss pharmaceutical company, Christy started Christyng.com, an online shoe company that specialises in customising women's footwear. And the rest, as they say, is history. The company is profitable and has 12 staff members.
8. Deborah Priya Henry
Crowned both Miss Malaysia World and Miss Universe Malaysia, Deborah has been helping the many refugees from war-torn Somalia who found their way to Malaysia. In the year 2008, she co-founded the Fugee School for the displaced children. She helps fund the 100-student school, which teaches basic skills and confidence, and raises donations from others.
In 2013, Deborah was included in Forbes's list of top Asian philanthropists.
Editor's note: In no order of merit, this list is in no way comprehensive, so please do reach out to us if you feel we may have left out any other deserving names.