Winning Entry of APEC App Challenge to Connect Women Entrepreneurs with Investors
Vina del Mar, Chile, 17 May 2019
An app that connects women entrepreneurs with investors and mentors, created by a duo of young developers from China, has won the 2019 APEC App challenge, held on the eve of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meetings (MRT).
In its third year and the first time to take place in the Americas, the APEC App Challenge asks software developers and designers from across the region to build, over only a 24-hour period, new mobile and web tools that can help solve development challenges.
APEC 2019 host economy, Chile, has based the competition on a key priority for the forum this year: how to strengthen the role of women entrepreneurs in the regional economy.
“Everyone wants to join this competition because it will have a very huge impact. I really hope that women can be winning in the future,” said Tingqiao Zhou, who created the triumphant app – called FundShe – with her programming partner Hailong Han. Both work in Beijing at China’s ride-sharing company Didi.
Twenty-two participants from nine economies - China, Chile, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, and Chinese Taipei - took part in the competition, supported by The Asia Foundation and Google.
“By making their businesses more visible and connecting them with mentors to help strengthen their skills, the internet can help women entrepreneurs overcome gender-based barriers to growth,” said Mathias Francke, Chile’s Chair of the APEC 2019 Senior Officials. “The winning entries pitched compelling and workable solutions that would help businesses break through.”
Women face considerable barriers during the startup phase of their business, including lack of access to finance. Winning entries developed platforms that enable investors to search for investment opportunities and facilitate women entrepreneurs to build networks while also enlarging the impact investing community across APEC.
“Women entrepreneurs face challenges that men don’t often face. They typically lack the collateral needed to obtain loans, face unequal laws and regulations that favor traditional gender roles, and contend with discrimination that discount their expertise and knowledge. By making it easier for women entrepreneurs to widen their network, the FundShe team is addressing these challenges in ways that can help women grow their businesses and expand into new markets,” said Elizabeth Romanoff Silva, Assistant Director for Women’s Empowerment at The Asia Foundation.
"When women have equal access to information and opportunity, anything is possible. Digital tools can play a role in helping to close the gender gap and make the world more equal," said Andrew Ure, Google’s Head of Trade and Economic Affairs for the Asia Pacific region.
The winning team will receive a prize of USD 3,000 and continue to develop their initiative for a roll out during APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in November.
“We are heartened to see so many of our stakeholders taking part in this effort to address a key priority for APEC – to help women entrepreneurs fulfill their potential,” said Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat and part of the judging committee.
The pitch event included two sets of judges apprising the developers. APEC officials, local entrepreneurs, and staff from The Asia Foundation and Google comprised the first set of judges, while APEC Senior Officials joined the judging panel for the second round of pitches.
The complete APEC SOM2 and Ministers Responsible for Trade meetings schedule in Vina del Mar from 3 May to 18 May can be viewed here.
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