The Awards returned after a three year hiatus with new categories and the special Phoenix Award.
Seventeen women business leaders were honoured at the Women Entrepreneur Awards (WEA) 2023 earlier this evening during a black-tie gala dinner to celebrate successful and promising women entrepreneurs who not only contribute to the business community and economy, but also to the social community.
The fourth edition of the awards was held at the Pan Pacific Hotel and attended by about 400 people. It had been on hiatus since Covid-19 pandemic began, with the last edition being held in 2019.
In her opening address, Ms Stephanie Cheo, Chairman of the Women Entrepreneur Awards, paid tribute to women entrepreneurs who had tackled the economic uncertainties brought about by the pandemic head-on.
“During this period of time, there were many challenges that we had to face, not just in business, but also with family issues and mental wellness,” she said.
“The pandemic has changed our lives in many ways, but what it cannot change is our determination and perseverance to keep moving forward.”
Ms Cheo also announced that the organisation will be changing the entry requirements for its Women Entrepreneurs Club, which is an exclusive group of women business leaders who get together to network, share, learn and tap on each other’s experience and potential.
Previously, the only way to be part of the club was to be a winner at the WEA.
“In the past years, we had been approached by many other women entrepreneurs who repeatedly asked to be part of the club,” she said.
“I am happy to announce that from this year, we have decided to open up membership to the Club by invitation as well. I hope in doing so, we can build a bigger network of like-minded women leaders.”
She added that the name of the group will also be changed to the Women Entrepreneurs Circle.
WEA 2023 saw winners being recognised across four categories – SME, Large/Listed, Corporate and the Phoenix Award.
Ms Cheo said that the Corporate category was introduced as a new category to recognise women leaders in the C-suite who may not be entrepreneurs, but share the same challenges of growing their businesses as entrepreneurs.
As for the Phoenix Award, she said that it was a special award that will only be given out this year in recognition of outstanding past award winners who weathered the economic turbulence of the Covid-19 pandemic and emerged stronger for it.
A noteworthy winner for the night was Ms Althea Lim, co-founder and CEO of Gushcloud, who was named the Overall Winner of the SME category.
She was chosen as the overall winner of this category, which had seven other winners, by a panel of 10 judges that included noted business leaders such as Mr Lawrence Leow, CEO and Chairman of Crescendas Group, and Mr Lennon Tan, Group Chairman of Adera Global.
“We were impressed by how she managed to grow a Singapore company into one with a global presence powered by strong content and intellectual property,” said Mr Leow, who heads the judging panel for the awards.
“On top of that, she has also managed to develop new revenue streams to keep the business resilient in order to stay ahead of competition.”
Ms Lim said that winning the award was significant to her because being a female entrepreneur is an “uphill journey”.
“Women-founded startups got 1.9% of all VC funding in 2022 So to receive an award that is recognised by top female founders before me is a deep honour,” she said.
“It shows to the current and next generation of women who are driven by their vision to start a company that it is possible; that others see the work and the diligence they put into it, and that there is now more support for them.”
The 17 winners, who were chosen from a pool of 80 nominees, received their award from Guest of Honour Low Yen Ling, Minister of State for Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
Said Ms Yeo in her speech at the dinner: “As we forge ahead to develop greater opportunities for Singapore women, your story will inspire girls and women, mothers, and sisters – to dare to dream and seize every moment, to gain a better, brighter future – because we can.”