It’s a woman’s world: Celebrating inclusivity and empowerment in e-commerce
The Lazada Forward Women Awards recognises the achievements of female digital entrepreneurs throughout Southeast Asia.
Women have made incredible leaps in bridging the entrepreneurial gap over the years. Women now own and manage about a third of established businesses across all regions – and closer to home, the numbers are more encouraging.
In a study by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the highest rates of women’s established business ownership (6.9 per cent) were found in Central and East Asia, where the figure for men was 11.9 per cent.
Whether they’re running a family-oriented home-based business or an ambitious start-up shooting for the stars, female entrepreneurs have found ample support on the Lazada e-commerce platform.
To celebrate the achievements of female business owners, Lazada hosted the Lazada Forward Women Awards (LFWA) 2022 on Mar 8, International Women’s Day.
The LFWA aims to highlight the significant role of women business owners in the region, who are not just pursuing their own entrepreneurial goals but are also supporting families, giving back to their communities and transforming their business sectors.
This year, to recognise the growing diversity present in its ranks of women sellers, the LFWA has added four award categories to the original three of Creative, Enterprising and Inspiring. The four additions are Rising Star, Bricks to Clicks Tech Adopter, Social Star and the most prestigious category, the Lazada Forward Woman of the Year Award.
CELEBRATING WOMEN OF THE YEAR
Despite their diverse backgrounds across Southeast Asia, the Lazada Forward Woman of the Year Award recipients all share several things in common – the grit needed to build a business from scratch, the resourcefulness needed to deal with the unexpected, and the willingness to share their skills with their staff and communities.
For example, take former university physics lecturer Farica Edgina Yosafat. The 36-year-old knew that her e-commerce venture on Lazada – a mother and baby product shop called Berry Baby – had the potential to succeed, but it needed a skilled team to bring it places. Ms Yosafat trained her staff in data analytics, marketing and product listing, empowering them with new skills as well as pushing her business forward. Her experience and successful venture led to her taking on the role of City Leader of the Lazada Club in Bandung, Indonesia, where she continues to pay it forward.
In a similar vein, Ms Doan Tran Thuy Linh, 33, used her newly acquired knowledge of data analysis gleaned at Lazada University to anticipate demand and introduce new products at Light Coffee, her Lazada business based in Ho Chi Minh City. Light Coffee has since grown to 19 staff members and Ms Doan Tran has even opened her own factory and warehouse. She now shares her learning with over 10,000 aspiring sellers at Lazada University.
Breaking new ground takes determination and courage – but when the risk pays off, the satisfaction is immense. One would expect Ms Monalisa Gao, 45, to stop and smell the roses in 2013 after she retired from her well-established chain of consumer electronics shops in the Philippines. Inspired by the range of products available on Chinese platform Taobao, however, Ms Gao grew intrigued by the possibilities of e-commerce. At that time, e-commerce was still a new option for many Filipinos. She decided to open a pioneering Lazada store, Lucky HR, selling consumer electronics, and it was a roaring success. Customers flocked to her e-commerce store and Ms Gao was soon able to expand to three warehouses spanning 5,000 sq m today.
Bangkok resident Pattiya Thanasrivanitchai is also a pioneer – in a very different way. While on a trip to the Maldives, Ms Pattiya had the experience of using a menstrual cup. Learning the benefits of using one, she wanted to share her realisation with others. She started menstrual cup retailer Happi Cup on Lazada and is now an advocate for female health and well-being. Her willingness to discuss a once-taboo subject has turned customers into fans, who appreciate her candour and progressive content on Happi Cup’s social media platforms.
Finally, the Women of the Year are also unafraid to embrace change and seek out the resources needed to thrive.
Instead of throwing in the towel when the competition for her physical shop got tough, Malaysian pharmacy owner Kong Wai Theng, 44, enrolled in Lazada University to acquire the digital skills needed to take her business – Big Care Mart – into the digital realm. Her bold decision and willingness to adapt made Big Care Mart’s shift to an online retailer a success – so much so that Ms Kong won the Lazada Top Seller Award in Health two years in a row from 2018 to 2019.
Likewise, Singaporean Liang Wee Ling initially started her Lazada store, 8miles, to sell handmade hair accessories. Realising that there was strong demand for mother and baby products, Ms Liang nimbly switched focus. She also tapped on Lazada’s mega campaigns like 11.11 and 12.12 to drive sales. Her journey has motivated her to become a Lazada Seller Ambassador, nurturing and inspiring a supportive community of fellow sellers.
OUTSTANDING INDIVIDUALS ACROSS SOUTHEAST ASIA
The award recipients have also demonstrated creative approaches to e-commerce, as well as a never-say-die attitude that has powered them through challenging times.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced Rising Star Award recipient Nguyen Thị Kim Oanh, 28, to close her travel agency in Ho Chi Minh City. She then created 1994food on Lazada, which sells healthy snacks like nuts, granola and diet biscuits – the kind of food she craved when she welcomed a newborn daughter in the same period.
Ms Nguyen now mentors other new sellers in addition to managing her team and factory, which produces her best-selling diet biscotti – a popular product in the fast-growing health food industry of Vietnam.
Ms Nadya Amatullah, 38, runs a Lazada-based nature-inspired clothing label named Nadjani. The fashion-forward brand has participated in Jakarta Fashion Week and collaborated with several influencers. When the pandemic rolled round, Ms Nadya was unfazed. With her team of over 40 employees in Bandung, many of whom were stay-at-home mothers, Ms Nadya pivoted to producing reusable fabric masks and products like aprons and gardening kits aimed at customers staying home. Her initiative and quick thinking won her the Enterprising Award.
Spas may have come under pressure during the pandemic, but Ms Pauline Ng – a Singaporean who started luxury facial spa Porcelain with her mother in 2009 – is thriving despite the challenges. The 35-year-old sells Porcelain’s skincare products on its flagship LazMall store and is exploring the use of e-commerce technology to reach customers directly. By retraining her team in areas like data sets, customer service interactions and livestreaming, the Inspiring Award winner has increased Porcelain’s followers and customer engagement greatly.
For other award recipients, what paid off was leveraging the power of digital tools to build communities and share their unique subject expertise with others.
For example, Creative Award winner and avid crocheter Nurul Izzan Zamzuri started Niz Craft to provide the quality yarn she likes working with to the community of crocheters in Malaysia. The 38-year-old from Selangor flexed her creativity by sharing craft ideas and tips, gradually growing her customer base. She is now a trusted resource of crocheting advice, on top of being an authorised seller for a well-known yarn brand from the Netherlands.
Over in Las Pinas, the Philippines, Ms Elyse Janina P Juan, 32, sells gifts, stationery, craft and home decor on her LazMall store, Papemelroti, a heritage business started by her grandmother 55 years ago. By taking the business online, Ms Juan hopes to preserve its legacy of beautiful, locally made and eco-friendly craft while also expanding regionally and one day, internationally. Her forward-looking initiative won her the Bricks to Clicks Tech Adopter Award.
Bangkok-based Loonnystore on Lazada is on top of the fashion and social media game. Run by fashion enthusiast Manassawee Suangkaew, 34, the trendy clothing shop engages customers with its outstanding service and social media content, which offers rich fashion insights. Having built a loyal customer community, Ms Manassawee has been recognised as a Social Star in the LFWA – and as one of the many exciting women entrepreneurs who are changing the e-commerce landscape of Southeast Asia.
Mr Raymond Yang, chief operating officer of Lazada Group, said: "It is incredible to witness the remarkable achievements of women sellers across Southeast Asia's digital commerce ecosystem. Our Lazada sellers have continued to innovate and adapt their businesses to the e-commerce environment, cater to their customers and enhance product offerings. We are proud to journey alongside these winners and create a world that is diverse and inclusive."
The full list of winners:
- Lazada Forward Woman of the Year (Indonesia): Ms Farica Edgina Yosafat
- Lazada Forward Woman of the Year (Vietnam): Ms Doan Tran Thuy Linh
- Lazada Forward Woman of the Year (Philippines): Ms Monalisa Gao
- Lazada Forward Woman of the Year (Thailand): Ms Pattiya Thanasrivanitchai
- Lazada Forward Woman of the Year (Malaysia): Ms Kong Thai Weng
- Lazada Forward Woman of the Year (Singapore): Ms Liang Wee Ling
- Rising Star Award: Ms Nguyen Thị Kim Oanh
- Enterprising Award: Ms Nadya Amatullah
- Inspiring Award: Ms Pauline Ng
- Creative Award: Ms Nurul Izzan Zamzuri
- Bricks to Clicks Tech Adopter Award: Ms Elyse Janina P Juan
- Social Star Award: Ms Manassawee Suangkaew
Feeling inspired? Sign up as a Lazada seller.