Christine Amour-Levar, Gender Advisory Committee — Accelerating Asia

VC Fund

Christine Amour-Levar is a member of Accelerating Asia’s Gender Advisory Committee. A French-Swiss-Filipina Philanthropist, Adventurer, Entrepreneur and Author. Christine is a passionate advocate of female empowerment and environmental conservation. Here we talk about the state of gender lens investing in Southeast Asia and her tips for entrepreneurs.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

I am of French, Swiss and Filipino descent, and grew up between Manila, Paris and Tokyo.

My career to date has been fairly international and quite versatile. I started out working for an American Advertising Agency called McCann-Erickson in Japan, after a few years, I moved to the United States to join Nike’s International Marketing team at their world headquarters in Oregon. I continued working for Nike in the Americas and Europe, and moved to Singapore about 15 years ago to lead their country marketing team.

Since leaving Nike, my primary focus over the past few years has been on using sports and adventure to raise awareness and funds for vulnerable women via my two NGOs Women on a Mission (WOAM) and HER Planet Earth. HER Planet Earth's key objective is to empower underprivileged women affected by climate change, while WOAM aims to support women who have been subjected to violence and abuse. Both organisations take all-female teams on challenging, often pioneering expeditions to off the beaten track locations around the world as a way to support and raise funds for these worthy causes.

What are your areas of expertise and passion?

I am deeply passionate about female empowerment and environmental conservation, and feel fortunate to have found a way to use sports and adventure to impact the world in a positive way.

I also consider myself a diversity and inclusion advocate, and want to see more women in decision-making roles at all levels of society. Indeed, diversity does matter, not just because of principle, but because it breeds innovation and innovation breeds business success - and this is vital for any ecosystem to adapt, grow and thrive successfully in the long term.  

My expertise is in Marketing and Communications, Events Management, Entrepreneurship, Philanthropy and in leading once-in-a-lifetime expeditions for a cause. I am on the board of a couple of non-profits in the Sustainability and Female Economic Empowerment space, and am also a consultant and advisor for a few organisations that are focused on Sports, Impact Investing, Leadership Development, Education and Tech for Impact.  

How would you rate gender representation in the startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia?

Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in female-led businesses, incubators, accelerator programmes and venture capital funds in South East Asia, although the gender-based discrepancies in the demographics of founders, funded startups, angel investors and venture capitalists is still very apparent.  

This means more opportunities need to be created to help female-led startups emerge, and that includes growing the women investors’ network, encouraging a gender lens approach to investing, and providing a platform for female leadership to thrive.

According to data from PitchBook in 2019, the majority of venture money still went to startups that have no women on their founding team. And in the US, only 2.8 percent of venture capital investment was directed to female-only founding teams, with just 11.5 percent invested into male and female founding teams.

Southeast Asia is no exception, we still have a ways to go in terms of gender representation in the startup ecosystem. However what is extremely encouraging is that the industry is booming, with the Nikkei Asia Review stating in July 2020 that startup investments in Southeast Asia nearly double despite COVID-19. Furthermore, empowering and investing in women in Southeast Asia has been proven to have an exponential impact on the surrounding communities and businesses.

Why are you a member of the Accelerating Asia Gender Advisory Committee?

I am drawn to Accelerating Asia’s gender lens investing initiatives and ultimately, I want to do my part to support and provide strategic advice and guidance to startup teams as they grow and build their businesses. I am excited about the opportunity to share my experience from the corporate and non-profit sectors with startup founders, and like discussing ways in which their new businesses can be successful, while also benefiting local underserved communities, providing women with more leadership opportunities, and how their products or services can positively impact society and our planet moving forward.  

What have you enjoyed about your experience with Accelerating Asia?  

I’ve enjoyed the sessions with the startups immensely, and found the discussions incredibly stimulating and inspiring. Meeting these bright and creative founders, who are thinking outside the box and coming up with amazing new solutions and ideas to build businesses, is absolutely thrilling. I am very happy to have an advisory role in this area and to support Accelerating Asia’s mission in this way.

What advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting a business?

  1. Challenge yourself to be challenged – hire people with different perspectives and backgrounds.
  2. Hire doers not delegators – bring on board people who are ready to roll up their sleeves and take initiative.
  3. Plan and budget for worst-case scenario - This is important to know because it shows the potential risk of the company.

Christine Amour-Levar is a member of the Accelerating Asia Gender Advisory Committee which provides strategic advice to the Accelerating Asia team on how we can take our gender investing initiatives to our activities to the next level.  

Reach out to us if you are interested in talking more about our Fund’s investment thesis and to talk to Accelerating Asia about investing in female founders with us.  

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