7 Awesome Malaysian Women Entrepreneurs and Their Stories

The glass ceiling is hard to crack, much less to break through. But these Malaysian businesswomen prove that it is not impossible if you persevere.

For the longest time, men have dominated and controlled the business world, and this also rings true in Malaysia.

We hardly see women in the highly-coveted roles of leadership and entrepreneurship that seem to come so easily to men.

With issues like sexism and gender discrimination being so commonplace, it is certainly no easy task for women to build or run their own businesses when others believe your gender diminishes your capabilities.

This time around, aCAT Penang has put together a list of seven extraordinary Malaysian women who are kicking ass at entrepreneurship and continue to prove naysayers wrong.

The following women have agreed to share their stories so that others with the same aspirations can learn from their lived experiences.

1. Stephanie Ping, WORQ

Who is she?

Co-Founder and CEO of WORQ

What is WORQ?

A coworking space, or as they call themselves a productivity community.

What is she proud of?

  • Graduating in the top 5% of her department at Stanford University.
  • Was Head of Business Development and Investor Relations at Axis REIT, where she helped grow the REIT from RM1 billion to RM2 billion in just 3.5 years.
  • Co-founding and managing WORQ, which was named the Best Coworking Space and the fourth Malaysia Digital Hub this year.

What is her most memorable moment?

Stephanie finds it hard, saying that it’s like “asking me to choose my favourite child.”

Eventually, she settles on one particular recollection.

One of Stephanie’s employees previously expressed that she did not feel her work was bringing enough of an impact to the community around her.

But, Stephanie doesn’t see it that way. She appreciates that employee’s efforts as they have helped to build a product that WORQ’s customers are really using and enjoying today.

Although WORQ is still small and the impact may not be on a large scale yet, Stephanie is proud of what they have contributed to the startup community and knows that they will grow from strength to strength.

Her advice to budding women entrepreneurs

“If you truly understand your rights, abilities, and possibilities as a female and as an entrepreneur, there would be no question in your head about how you should be, how you should be treated and how to operate, and it will then reflect in the way things work out for you.”

- Stephanie Ping

2. Tang Mei Ying, MY Yoga

Who is she?

Founder of MY Yoga

What is MY Yoga?

Hatha & Vinyasa flow yoga classes suitable for all levels including beginners.

What is she proud of?

Mei Ying combined her passion for wellness and love for yoga to start her own yoga center. Although her business is pretty small, she is happy that she can instruct useful yoga techniques to likeminded individuals so that they can benefit physically, mentally, and emotionally.

What is her most memorable moment?

It has been 2 years since Mei Ying officially became a certified Yoga Alliance teacher and started her very first class.

She is eternally grateful for the opportunity to teach yoga to individuals from all walks of life; she has even formed close friendships with some of them.

Mei Ying also finds herself fueled by the moments when her students come up to her and thank her because her yoga lessons made their pains and aches go away.

Knowing that she is helping people, no matter how few, is what drives her through the ups and downs of managing her business.

Her advice to budding women entrepreneurs

“Practice and all [will come]. Not everything always goes well on the first try but if you are really into something, give it your best and try and try.”

- Tang Mei Ying

3. Goh Ai Ching, Piktochart

Who is she?

Co-Founder of Piktochart

What is Piktochart?

A website where users can easily create professional infographics.

What is she proud of?

The immense growth of Piktochart from its humble beginnings to its current success is no small feat.

Originally consisting of a 4-person team and holed up in a small Penang-based warehouse, Piktochart now has over 40 employees who ensure the web application runs smoothly.

It is no wonder that Ai Ching finds a lot of pride for how far her business has come. With 5 million users and counting, Ai Ching looks forward to growing further with her dedicated team and making more customers happy.

What is her most memorable moment?

She describes the year of 2012 as the most eventful one of her life.

In those 12 months, Ai Ching:

  • Initially launched a Piktochart prototype
  • Registered paying users
  • Turned profitable
  • Won a pitching contest to go to Silicon Valley
  • Became more spiritual
  • Got hitched at TWO different locations

It never ceases to amaze her how she got all of THAT done in one year. This goes to show that it’s not how long you have but what you do with it that matters.

Her advice to budding women entrepreneurs

“Figure out what legacy you want to leave from early on.”

- Goh Ai Ching

4. Boonsiri Somchit, Xtrategize Technologies

Who is she?

Co-Founder and COO of Xtrategize Technologies Sdn. Bhd.

What is Xtrategize Technologies?

A firm that enriches organisations through digital technology and unique training programmes.

What is she proud of?

  • Co-founding Xtrategize Technologies in 2016 and adapting to the entrepreneurial environment rather seamlessly.
  • Her ability to learn new things regardless of her age.
  • Coaching 11 people, 5 of whom were promoted to managerial positions the following year.
  • Helping people achieve their highest potential and reaching their dreams with her guidance.

What is her most memorable moment?

Boonsiri got a wakeup call when she left her executive position to start her own business.

She was used to being a figure of authority that everyone listened to but found out that that was not the case as an entrepreneur.

She realised that youngsters felt there was nothing useful that they could learn from the older generation. The youths she encountered were often hard-headed and refused to heed her advice.

But she has personally seen many youths fail and come back to her more humble and ready to actually learn. Boonsiri regards failure as a process everyone goes through to become better versions of themselves.

Her advice to budding women entrepreneurs

“Focus. Stop trying to be Wonder Woman or Supergirl. You need to focus on what is important and just do it.”

- Boonsiri Somchit

5. Allicia Sim, Gurlstudio

Who is she?

Co-Founder of Gurlstudio

What is Gurlstudio?

A creative website design and branding company.

What is she proud of?

  • Successfully completing projects for international clients
  • Providing quality designs for million-dollar corporate contracts under extremely tight deadlines
  • Establishing and maintaining trusting relationships between designers, vendors, and key clients
  • Coordinating staff participation in community-sponsored charitable events

What is her most memorable moment?

Once she started building up her own businesses, Allicia realised that being a female entrepreneur brought different hurdles than those experienced by her male counterparts.

Entering motherhood and entrepreneurship have transformed what was once an extremely needy person into an independent businesswoman who now exudes pure confidence.

Allicia did not become the woman she is today overnight. Entrepreneurship removed her from her comfort zone and challenged her to grow.

A multitude of diverse experiences has taught her to be more measured in her responses and to see things through a more open lens.

Her advice to budding women entrepreneurs

“Do what you love to do and give it your very best. Hard work and good instincts never let you down.”

- Allicia Sim

6. Julia Koh, Brand 360 Degree

Who is she?

Executive Brand Director of Brand 360 Degree Sdn Bhd

What is Brand 360 Degree?

A boutique branding agency and marketing consultancy firm.

What is she proud of?

Back in the day, Julia had difficulty in promoting her branding services to businesses as there was less understanding of its importance and relevance then.

Now, Julia is glad that her clients have embraced branding and are more knowledgeable about branding terminology.

One particular achievement she likes to reflect on was the time when a CEO came to her agency and engaged them on the spot, no questions asked!

You don’t normally see clients who are that eager to work with an agency.

Julia was exceptionally proud of the good work that her team and company branding had executed. Their efforts resulted in glowing recommendations from the client.

What is her most memorable moment?

She has noted that being a female entrepreneur means there is often a struggle to be heard and acknowledged when talking to mostly older, male business owners.

However, according to Julia, being a woman has its advantages in business too. For example, women are perhaps more capable when it comes to equally applying critical thinking and empathy skills.

Such ability certainly benefits clients as it is vital for entrepreneurs to really see it from their clients’ perspectives.

Her advice to budding women entrepreneurs

“Leverage on the strength and support of the female community. There are many female business owners who started out just like you, to whom you can ask for advice and guidance. So don’t be shy to ask for help; and don’t forget to help someone out too.”

- Julia Koh

7. Shirmein Leong, DeliverEat

Who is she?

Founder of DeliverEat

What is DeliverEat?

A company that offers food ordering and delivery services.

What is she proud of?

Five years was all it took for DeliverEat to grow from a tiny team of 4 to 100+ employees. Shirmein sees her company’s tremendous growth in such a short time as a huge milestone.

She’s also proud of her team’s overall efforts in carving out bigger successes for her business. DeliverEat is doing so well that it has recently expanded operations to KL.

To Shirmein, the joy of watching her business develop from its first baby steps to the huge running leaps it makes now has been more rewarding than she could ever imagine.

What is her most memorable moment?

One of the things she appreciates about her job is the mutual respect and understanding shared between her and her male riders.

When DeliverEat initially launched, Shirmein was the sole person in charge of handling the riders, which included their recruitment, training, and disciplinary issues.

And seeing as the food delivery business was very male-centric, she had more than her fair share of interactions with male riders.

Despite her concerns, Shirmein found that being a woman had its advantages. When the male drivers get angry, she can reason with them and calm them down.

She reckons that if her words were coming from another man, the discussion would probably end with a fist-fight instead.

In this line of work, both parties need to treat each other equally to ensure a healthy work relationship.

Her advice to budding women entrepreneurs

“Having a solid support system is very important. Your family has to support you because it is a long journey and family support determines how you far you can go.”

- Shirmein Leong

These 7 women come from different walks of life and have built different kinds of businesses, but they all possess the same tenacity and fire within them which makes them damn good entrepreneurs.

We hope their life lessons and words of wisdom can enlighten you somehow and nudge you in the right direction on your entrepreneurial journey.


Liked this article? Leave us your thoughts by commenting below. If you know someone who could benefit from these women’s stories, please share our article with them.

One Comment on “7 Awesome Malaysian Women Entrepreneurs and Their Stories

June 21, 2018 at 4:13 am

Are they all from penang?


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