A former beauty queen, who was crowned Miss Singapore in 2006, is uniting women entrepreneurs across Southeast Asia.
Genecia Alluora, who also won as Miss Singapore Chinese Cosmo 2011, is the founder of Soul Rich Woman, Southeast Asia’s largest network of female entrepreneurs with a presence in the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and other Asean countries.
“I established Soul Rich Woman in 2015 after finding it extremely difficult to find help and resources when I decided to launch my own coffee chain Coffee:Nowhere, after winning Miss Singapore in 2006,” Alluora says in an e-mailed interview.
“I’m passionate in helping ambitious women in finding and building on their dreams,” she says.
Soul Rich Woman now has 11,000 active members collaborating across 15 countries. It’s mission is to enable women to succeed in business, life and health through knowledge sharing, networking and inspiring confidence in one another.
What started as a mission to help women entrepreneurs in Singapore has expanded to other Asean countries. It helps remove obstacles to female entrepreneurship through mentoring, skill sharing and network building programs across the region.
She manages a team of 11 members to build the network. The global team is spread out across Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines and Ireland. “From Singapore to Manila, our members are sharing their expertise with each other and pooling their knowledge,” she says.
Alluora was born and educated in Singapore. She supported her studies and her family by teaching yoga, aerobics and line dancing at age of 14. “Life can bring you on strange journeys sometimes that end up being significant and I ended up enrolling in my first pageant competition, The New Face Competition in 2003. Within three years I was crowned Miss Singapore and I took the chance to upskill myself in public speaking, natural language processing and personal branding,” she says.
Aside from being a line dancer, Alluora is also an animal lover and a professional rescue diver. “I love hiking and find exercise is a great help in terms of clearing my mind and helping me focus,” she says.
“Those experiences really helped build my confidence to step into the business world. I initially set up InQueenz, an image consultancy that coached high profile business personalities, pageant contestants and even politicians on personal branding. After finding success in consultancy I wanted to try something more ‘bricks and mortar’ and began a partnership to set up coffee shop retail chain ‘Coffee: Nowhere’. The chain now has a presence in three countries and continues to grow strong,” she says.
“People will be surprised to hear I’m a true blue introvert, playing an extrovert’s game. I’m also a marketing automation geek and I love my entrepreneurial lifestyle. I thrive on helping similar females reach their goals and I enjoy the concept of being able to work anywhere, anytime,” she says.
Alluora says being a beauty queen helped her to become a better entrepreneur. “As a beauty queen every aspect of you is under scrutiny, not just by the public but also by yourself. I was always my harshest critic. That’s something pageantry and entrepreneurship share. You are always your harshest critic,” she says in an e-mailed interview.
Continuous personal development helped her attain her status as a global entrepreneur. “While winning Miss Singapore International 2006 and Miss Singapore Chinese Cosmo 2011 helped me understand the importance of self confidence, self identity and the power of teamwork, it was my personal development that helped me cross over to entrepreneurship. You need to be confident in your skills and capability,” she says.
“In both cases, you need to be resilient and quickly adaptable. Things can go wrong and you need to be able to react effectively. One core difference between the two is the level of responsibility. With your own business, you’re not only accountable for your own success but that of your team. That’s a big responsibility,” says Alloura, who is now 34.
She says the idea of forming a platform for women entrepreneurs stemmed from the challenges she faces while setting up her own business. “I faced many issues when setting up my business. I found there was a lack of mentorship and a lack of resources for female entrepreneurs going from offline to online. Women face very unique challenges in business and during encountering roadblocks I realized the importance of networking as well as knowledge and skill sharing so I decided to do something about it,” she says.
“I wanted to create a platform that could help aspiring and existing female entrepreneurs across Southeast Asia achieve their ambitions and my first step was to established an online platform called the ‘You Are Possible Academy’. This would later evolve into Soul Rich Woman,” she says.
Soul Rich Women emerged as Southeast Asia’s largest online network of female entrepreneurs. “We are a platform for ambitious women regardless if they are aspiring or existing entrepreneurs! In our mission to ‘move the needle’ on female entrepreneurship, we provide online coaching webinars on social and digital media, branding and strategy. We also provide training sessions and one to one mentoring to female entrepreneurs by utilizing our 11,000 strong Southeast Asia network.
Soul Rich Woman also give women a place where they can share their thoughts, challenges and exchange tips on how to reach their business goals and objectives.
In its first year, SRW attracted 500 members, growing 300 percent year-on-year since then and attracting a wide range of entrepreneurs from therapists, retailers, wholesalers, authors and strategists.
“As a company we are growing quickly. To date, we are active in seven countries including Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. We’re planning further expansion, continuing our growth across the region to target Hong Kong, China and beyond,” she says.
“We’ve recently signed a partnership in Vietnam for the Ho Chi Minh and Ha Noi markets to provide workshops to female entrepreneurs for the online marketing 4.0 movement. We’ve also partnered with online shopping site Lazada to host regional workshops for our community to help them grow from offline to online. My ambition is to grow Soul Rich Woman into a brand that is impactful in driving female entrepreneurship and upskilling women to achieve their ambitions throughout 2018 and beyond,” says Alluora.
“Now three years old, I really feel like we’re starting to make a difference,” she says.
She advises the millennials to take time in gaining experience and knowledge. “Youth is funny, you think you’ve no time to achieve what you want and become easily frustrated. Experience and knowledge take time to build. You have loads of time so take it. Learn and live as much as you can and success will come to you naturally provided your willing to work for it,” she says.
Alloura encourages young entrepreneurs to learn from others. “Don’t be a victim of your own circumstances, find a mentor and get your ass out there. Alone you are strong, and together we are unstoppable,” she says.
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