UNCTAD e-Trade for Women Masterclass: Key Learnings

Lorna Bondoc meets Dr. Asa Torkelsson, UNFPA Rep for Malaysia and Country Director for Thailand

My Key Learnings from the Masterclass

The UNCTAD e-Trade for Women Masterclass 2023, held on July 24-27, 2023, brought together 25 women entrepreneurs from developing countries to learn about how to scale their businesses using systems, structure, and processes, find the right funding fit, and approach marketing in a sustainable way.

UNCTAD eTrade for Women Masterclass 2023 Cohort
UNCTAD eTrade for Women Masterclass 2023 Cohort

The masterclass featured a variety of speakers, including experienced entrepreneurs, investors, and consultants. The speakers shared their insights on a range of topics, including:

  • How to build a strong business foundation
  • How to build a strong team and create a culture of accountability
  • How to develop effective systems and processes
  • How to use technology to streamline your operations
  • How to find the right funding for your business
  • How to create a sustainable marketing strategy

The participants of the masterclass were highly engaged and eager to learn. They asked thoughtful questions and participated actively in the discussions. The masterclass participants also had the opportunity to network with each other and share their experiences. 

Here are some of the key learnings from the masterclass:

  • Scaling your business requires a strong foundation. This includes having a clear vision for your business, a well-defined business model, a solid financial plan and protecting your intellectual property.
  • Systems and processes are essential for scaling your business. This means having clear policies and procedures in place, as well as a team of people who are aligned with your vision. They help you to streamline operations, improve efficiency, and reduce errors.
  • Finding the right funding is critical for scaling your business. There are a variety of funding options available, so it’s important to do your research and find the option that’s right for your business.
  • Marketing is essential for attracting new customers and growing your business. There are a variety of marketing channels available, so it’s important to choose the channels that will reach your target audience.


Grabbing Lessons from Grab

Grab (formerly known as MyTeksi) is a Southeast Asian superapp that offers a variety of services, including ride-hailing, food delivery, and payments. The company was founded in 2012 by Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling in Malaysia.

Grab’s story began with a simple mission: to make taxi rides safer and more convenient in Malaysia. The company launched its first app, MyTeksi, in 2012. MyTeksi allows users to book taxis in real time and track their rides in progress.

Here are a few nuggets drawn from our morning with Grab executives (in my own words).

Heart. It takes courage to pursue what seems impossible. Solve problems that impact change and transformation.

Humility. Roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. Acknowledge mistakes and grow from it.

Honor. Stay true to your promise and honor commitments to your employees, partners, customers and their customers.

Hunger. Sustainable livelihood that not only puts food on the table but can spur opportunities for future generations to thrive.

Grab quickly grew in popularity, and by 2013, it had expanded to Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia. In 2014, the company rebranded as Grab and launched a number of new services, including GrabCar (private-hire cars), GrabBike (motorcycles), and GrabFood (food delivery).

Grab’s growth has been phenomenal. In 2016, the company had 1 million daily active users. By 2022, that number had grown to over 29 million. Grab is now the leading ride-hailing and food delivery platform in Southeast Asia, with operations in 8 countries and over 600 cities.

Grab is a success story that shows how technology can be used to improve people’s lives. The company has made it easier and safer for people to get around Southeast Asia, and it has also created new opportunities for drivers and businesses. Grab is well-positioned to continue to grow in the years to come.


Drawing Inspiration from Dropee

Completing the Masterclass
L-R: Viridiana Garcia-Quiles (UNCTAD eTrade for Women); Lorna Bondoc (YOVEO); Lennise Ng (Dropee); Sonia Nnadozie (UNCTAD eTrade for Women)

Dropee is a B2B marketplace that connects wholesalers and retailers in Southeast Asia. Founded in 2015 by Lennise Ng and Jeremy Ng, Dropee has grown to become one of the leading B2B marketplaces in the region. The company has over 1 million registered users and over 10,000 suppliers.

Dropee’s success can be attributed to a number of factors, including its strong technology platform, its focus on customer service, and its strategic partnerships with major retailers. The company’s technology platform allows wholesalers and retailers to connect and trade more easily. Dropee also offers a number of value-added services, such as credit financing and logistics support.

In 2018, Dropee raised $10 million in Series A funding from 500 Startups and East Ventures. The company plans to use the funding to expand its operations in Southeast Asia and to develop new products and services.

Dropee is a success story that shows how technology can be used to create a more efficient and transparent B2B marketplace. The company is well-positioned to continue to grow in the years to come.

Here are some additional details about Dropee’s success:

  • The company has grown its revenue by over 100% year-over-year for the past three years.
  • Dropee is profitable and has been cash-flow positive since 2017.
  • The company has been recognized by a number of organizations, including being named one of the “Top 100 Startups in Southeast Asia” by TechCrunch in 2018.

Dropee is a shining example of how a well-executed business plan and a strong focus on customer service can lead to success. The company is well-positioned to continue to grow in the years to come.


Masterclass Takeaways

The UNCTAD e-Trade for Women Masterclass was a valuable opportunity for women entrepreneurs to learn from experienced women leaders and industry professionals and gain the skills they need to scale their businesses. The participants of the masterclass were highly motivated and eager to put their new knowledge into practice.

If you’re a woman entrepreneur who is looking to scale your business, I highly recommend attending an UNCTAD e-Trade for Women Masterclass. You’ll learn from experienced professionals, network with other entrepreneurs, and gain the skills you need to take your business to the next level.

Thank you to UNCTAD and eTrade for Women for organizing this valuable event. I look forward to seeing what the 25 masterclass participants accomplish in the years to come.