It’s not always easy to follow your career as a trailing spouse and mum. Sometimes you have to forge a new path.
TANYA ROLFE is on a mission to help women help women, a mission born out of a need of her own to find balance in her life. She moved to Singapore from London with two small children and a background in corporate mergers and acquisitions. Juggling a big career and two little ones in nappies wasn’t working; she knew she needed a change. Around the same time, she invested in a nightclub in Clarke Quay and an idea was born.
“I enjoyed managing the investment and being involved in a very different industry,” says Tanya. “It gave me the idea to invest in other start-up businesses, but perhaps find some others to do it with me. I missed the teamwork that large organisations offer so I tried to recreate this. Only, this time, I could hand pick who I worked with and what to work on!”
So, Tanya reached out to women in business networking groups as well as some mothers’ groups, and the Ladies Investment Club (LIC) was born. A mix of locals and expats, some members are investment pros, while others have no experience whatsoever, joining to learn more about investing and running a corporation. Together, the members of LIC review women-led businesses seeking funding. Each woman decides which company she wants to support and how much she wants to give. They pool the funds and act as angel investors. LIC then goes a step beyond, with members investing their time, too. They become involved with the company, supporting the business with their knowledge, often helping shape and guide the direction of the start-up.
Tanya has a Singaporean managing co-founder, GAIL WONG, a magna cum laude graduate from Wharton Business School and a Morgan Stanley alum. Professionally, she runs a financial coaching business, Live True, a company also born out of a need to reinvent herself to find balance.
Gail says LIC is good for the members, but also good for those being supported – and not just because of the funds. “My own experience of being the minority female (and Asian) in business underlines the loneliness that can come with starting a business. Women have to fulfil higher standards, overcome higher scepticism and handle a typically more complex life amidst their professional capacities. Being supported by LIC is incredibly helpful.”
Some examples of investments include Gifts Less Ordinary, an e-commerce platform for high-end personalised gifts; and Klaud9, a business where marketers and advertisers can find comprehensive stock photos for Asia.
How are they doing? Well, it can take three to five years to see a real return, but the initial markers are positive.
Want to get involved? Great! Just join. Or, if nothing else, support the businesses LIC supports. Buy a present for a friend from Gifts Less Ordinary with a card made from a photo you buy from Klaud9. Every little thing we do to help these female-driven businesses helps all women in business in the end.
Find out more at licvc.com.
For more helpful tips head to our living in Singapore section.