Thailand is one of the top countries in the world for the advancement of female entrepreneurs in the professional sphere. In the 2018 study of Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, Thailand ranked 15th out of 57 markets. The Index tracks the progress and achievement of women entrepreneurs. Thai society also encourages entrepreneurship and views it in high regard. These factors make Thailand fertile ground for young Thais to begin startups. Here, Top 10 take a look at its list of the top 10 young female entrepreneurs of Thailand, listed in no particular order, shaking up the entrepreneurial world.
- Jongjin Jungsura
A co-founder of Matara jewellery, Jongjin Jungsura has changed the jewellery landscape. Jungsura with 2 of her best friends, all in their mid-20s, started their own business by selling cultured pearls through Instagram. Her frustration with the availability of cultured pearls that were just limited to old-fashioned stores was a driving factor. With its strong branding, good customer service, high quality handcrafted jewelry from Thai artisans and also modern and contemporary designs, Matara underwent a rapid expansion. Within 3 years, other than Bangkok, Matara is now available in another 5 big cities worldwide: London, New York, Paris, Hong Kong and Vientiane. Having started small, today the brand has been featured in LA Fashion Week and collaborated with hi-end lifestyle brands and products.
- Api Srikarnjana
Api Srikarnjana has stated that she is fortunate to have the love and business support from her father’s Asia Insurance company but she is determined to make something of her own before hitting 30. It was this spark to affect positive change in the world that led her and her friends to co-found U Drink I Drive, a service that matches potentially drunk drivers with safe rides home. Since launching 5 years ago, the business now saves over 700,000 lives and has earned several speaking engagements. Srikarnjana also finds time in her daily schedule to teach startup courses at several universities in Bangkok in the hopes of sharing her business core fundamentals and bring about new business awareness and innovation to the young Thais.
- May Kanokwatanawan
May Kanokwatanawan founded After You dessert café which is famous all over Thailand. She started her business when she was barely out of university but quickly proved herself to be able to excel. Kanokwatanawan also put in a lot of effort into creating great recipes for her chain of dessert cafes. Today, the cafes can be frequently seen to be packed with customers. Her company is listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand, a rare feat for a young entrepreneur.
- Oranuch Lerdsuwankij
Oranuch Lerdsuwankij or Mimee is the CEO and co-founder of Techsauce. It is a leading technology and innovation media and host of the largest technology conference in South East Asia. She is also recognised as one of the pioneers in building the Thai startup ecosystem. Before starting her own business, she had direct experience in product and marketing for more than 12 years with Truemove Atos Origin, and Total Access Communication (dtac). Lerdsuwankij graduated from King Mongkut Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL) in telecommunication engineering and holds a master degree in information technology management.
- Oraphan Vacharaphol
Before embarking on entrepreneurial pursuits, Oraphan Vacharaphol was a teen movie star. Having already been a part of the entertainment business, she founded a television production company named Polypus Entertainment in 1994. It continued to grow under her leadership. In 1998, the company ventured into film production, followed by the establishment of Polypus PR and Polypus Publishing in 2004. Today, it is still going strong. Vacharaphol is a mother of three and is married to Thai Rath newspaper heir, Saravudh.
- Pichaya Utharntharm (Chef Pam)
The young Pichaya Utharntharm has already launched two successful culinary businesses. The first is her barbecue delivery service, Barbeque Pit and the other is her private dining experience, The Table. The Table is one of Bangkok’s most sought-after seats. She is also one of four judges on Top Chef Thailand and is the only female and youngest among them. She also hosted her own show, Pam’s Kitchen that featured recipes and tips from her kitchen. Utharntharm earned a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and worked directly under Jean-Georges Vongrichten at his eponymous three Michelin star restaurant all by the age of 28.
- Patricia ML Lim
Patricia ML Lim is the owner and founder of Thailand’s hotel chain, Privi Hotel Group. The group operates multiple chains of hotels, suites, hostels, residences, serviced apartments and resorts throughout Thailand. At the age of 25, Lim’s personal estimated net worth is 1 billion Thai baht and that is solely based on the hotels’ assets alone. Her family runs one of the largest bird nest manufacturing business in Southeast Asia.
- Pun Triratanachat
Pun Triratanachat is the owner of Irada. She opened her first shop at the age of 24. It is a contemporary and accessible fashion brand that allows women on the move to be spontaneous. Triratanachat sets out an eclectic product range so that women will be able to mix and match and showcase their unique individuality. She is also very active on Instagram in showcasing her own individuality and fashion to her thousands of followers.
- Julalak Ponpipom
Julalak Ponpipom started in entrepreneurship with Button Up, a tailoring and multi-brand boutique for men. After seeing a lack of Thai brands offering quality menswear and which matches the figures and shapes of Thai bodies, Ponpipom decided to take the business opportunity. Today, Button Up is a successful business with several branches. She also forayed into PR with Glitz Communications. She was educated in America with a degree in business marketing from Carnegie Mellon University and a master’s degree in advertising from Boston University.
- Shannon Kalayanamitr
Shannon Kalayanamitr has been one of Thailand’s most influential entrepreneurs. Her list of achievements is long and impressive. Some of her more recent achievements include being the founder of Ikigai Group, a consulting company designed to solve 21st century challenges and Managing Director of Iconic Media, a media and technology advisory company. From 2013 to 2017, she co-founded Orami (formerly MOXY) and was the former Chief Marketing Officer of the largest e-commerce destination for women in Southeast Asia. Kalayanamitr is a venture partner at GOBI Partners which is a Southeast Asian/Chinese Focused Fund, managing over 1.1 billion USD across 11 funds. She also devotes time to mentorship, programmes and projects and remains active in the non-profit sector.