Inspiring Women in Malaysia 2016 Start-Up Scene

Although the number of female entrepreneurs accounts for less than 20% in the SME industry according to Statisca, the figure is growing strong in the recent years, slowly changing the once male-dominated entrepreneur landscape.

SME Corp Malaysia too wants women entrepreneurs to continue in developing and growing of the country’s SME industry.

In line with SME Corp Malaysia’s vision to budding female entrepreneurs, we would like to introduce to you these ladies and their story behind their success in the 2016 start-up and entrepreneur scene.

Charissa Ong

woman-765x600Image: Charissa Ong’s Instagram (@cotypoems)

At the age of 24, she has already established a publishing company of her own. According to Vulcan Post, all this because she was told that she was too young to publish her work along with her lack of qualification and experiences as she’s a graphic designer.

Despite all those criticisms, Charissa persevered and started her own publishing company, Penwings Publishing. And on July 1, her first book – Midnight Monologues was published.

If you drop by at any MPH bookstore near you, you can currently find Midnight Monologues located on the MPH’s list of Top 10 Bestsellers shelf.

Amira Yahaya & Foo Chia Chern


Image: The Malay Mail

The Straits Finery, minimalist-designed and delicate fine jewellery, is a start-up launched by two good friends from Penang, Amira Yahaya and Foo Chia Chern. They were inspired by their mothers who adorned themselves with beautiful heirloom pieces passed on for generations.

It was challenging for both given that they were new to the jewellery business. In an interview with The Malay Mail, Chia Chern admits that everything was a learning curve for them because they had zero experience in jewellery design and in business.

With perseverance and patience, the brand is now slowly gaining recognition on Instagram and their website from customers worldwide.

The Zulkifli Sisters

i-3Image: Mimpikita Instagram (@mimpi_kita)

10 years in the industry now, the Zulkifli sisters – Nurul Afidah, Amirah Hanis and Fatimah Ani Syahira – are the founders of ‘Mimpikita’. ‘Mimpikita’ means ‘our dreams’ in Bahasa Malaysia and running a fashion house is what the Zulkifi sisters have aspired and dreamt of having.

In an interview with the New Straits Times, their parents were reluctant about their dreams in the beginning as the sisters lacked of the fashion background and experience in entrepreneurship. Of course, the sisters eventually managed to convince their parents. Started off with a small space in Kota Damansara and selling outsourced clothes for Hari Raya, they now design bridal wear and ready-to-wear items.

The ladies have even debuted in London Fashion Week, showcasing diversity through their designs. And now, the ladies are prepping for the upcoming KL Fashion Week.