5 Women In Tech Championing Sustainable Change
From the increase in temperature to single-use plastic, climate change is an issue that weighs heavily on everyone’s mind. With the recent surge of environmental awareness, the sustainability market is predicted to reach US$48.36 billion in the next six years. Because of this, many technology companies are pivoting to creating environmental solutions.
Within the last few years, there has also been a dramatic increase of women in tech. In 2016, women only accounted for less than a third (29.3 per cent) of global tech industry workers. In Asia, the number is now at 48.2 per cent.
Here are five Gen.T honourees in the tech and sustainability space who are using their knowledge to create sustainable long-term change.
Company: Yzabell Palma is the founder of AirDisc Cooling Technologies. She invented the AirDisc, an air conditioner that has low energy consumption and minimal chemical waste.
Location: The Philippines
Best known for: Palma invented the AirDisc while she was a student at the Philippine Science High School in 2017. Now she is a Mechanical Engineering student at De La Salle University in Manila.
Need to know: She has received a number of awards for her work, notably winning the James Dyson Award in 2019.
What’s next? With the help of the Department of Science and Technology in the Philippines, the AirDisc is currently registered at their local Intellectual Property Office and in the US. Palma hopes to bring the product to the market within the next few years.
Company: Louise Taechaubol is the CEO of Triton Holdings, an investment company that has become Thailand’s leading player for renewable energy and sustainable methods of construction.
Need to know: She has directorship at construction management company TritonEC, where she recently acquired two biogas power plants. The plants generate electricity from waste water and use high-pressure hydraulic technology to recycle the waste into fuel for electricity.
Did you know? Her dream job as a child was to be an investor, and she began investing in the stock market when she was just 10 years old.
Quote: “My mother would open the newspapers to show me the stock reports, and we’d choose together the ones I wanted to buy with the money I earned for getting good marks, otherwise I wouldn’t have known these things at all. I would buy things like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Telstra—anything that I used, I wanted to buy. By the time I turned 18, it’d been 10 years and I saw that it made money. It made me realise that I could go into finance, not because I was interested in it but because I saw that it works,” she told Prestige.
Kuo Shih Yun
Company: Kuo Shih Yun is the co-founder and co-CEO of Lablaco, a platform that uses blockchain to make second-hand luxury clothing traceable and reduce plastic waste.
Best known for: Creating the Circular Fashion Summit, the world’s first virtual reality fashion conference, which launched during Paris Fashion Week in 2019. Since then, 30 partners have joined their initiative and implemented Lablaco technology to deliver sustainable options across the industry. They have since saved one million litres of water and 6,000 tons of CO2 from landfill.
Need to know The Circular Fashion Summit’s main three sustainability goals for the year are to crowd-source 1,000 pairs of up-cycled sneakers for children in Afghanistan, to tokenise 10,000 fashion items high in the supply chain with brands and retailers, and to enable the recirculation of 100,000 fashion items. The goals were loosely inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Quote “It was around 2012 or 2013 that we began to see the role of social media in changing how customers were consuming fashion—it was becoming a lot more digitised. That was when we started to realise that there should be a platform that helps designers and brands to digitise their products and trace the data of the products. Soon after, Lablaco was born,” Kuo told Gen.T.
Did you know? Her company has initiated pilot projects with companies including Alibaba, H&M, Swarovski and the Lane Crawford Joyce Group.
See also: Amber Leong: The First Malaysian To Pitch Her Idea On Reality TV Show, Shark Tank
Ling Ka Yi
Company: Ling Ka Yi is the co-founder and chief scientific officer of Shiok Meats, the creator of the world’s first lab-grown seafood.
Best known for: Shiok Shrimp, a cell-based shrimp prototype, in the form of siew mai.
Quote: “What my business partner Sandhya and I did was kind of crazy. We’re two young women, we left our jobs that were stable and we had no money and no support—just one cheque from our first advisor and investor of US$10,000. Which honestly if you tell people, they’ll be like, ‘That’s not even enough to buy you like one month’s worth of supplies.’ So we just started this on our own with very little money and big dreams that we think we can do,” Ling told Women's Weekly Singapore.
Need to know: Shiok Meats recently completed a US$12.6 million Series A funding round, and will bring Shiok Shrimp to the market later this year.
Did you know? The global shrimp market is worth US$45 billion.
See also: A Day In The Life Of Social Entrepreneur Raudhah Nazran
Company Huang Ningning is the co-founder and CEO of HowBottle, a brand that recycles plastic bottles into clothes and accessories.
Best known for: She previously collaborated with Coca-Cola and One Foundation. Together they created a bag made of 24 bottles, as well as fabrics for tents for earthquake relief missions. For every 24 bags sold, a new disaster relief tent would be provided to affected areas by One Foundation, Coca-Cola China’s partner.
Need to know: Huang won a place on the 2019 Young Green Tech Global Top 20, and has exhibited her products at the 2018 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
Quote: “Sometimes big changes can come about, not by a few people doing something big, but from lots and lots of people, all making small changes,” Huang told the BBC.
Did you know? HowBottle has used up to 750,000 recycled bottles in the past two-and-a-half years to create their shirts and bags. If raw plastic was used to produce the same products, it would have emitted 290,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide.
See also: Malaysian Philene Tan Co-Founded LA Sustainable Fashion Brand Foundationals Right Out Of College