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2017 Edmund Hillary Fellowship profiles: Audrey Tan

2017 Edmund Hillary Fellowship profiles: Audrey Tan

Recipients of the 2017 Edmund Hillary Fellowship have been announced. To mark the enormous achievement - a three-year fellowship programme offered for up to 100 high-calibre international entrepreneurs, investors and startup teams and 20 Kiwis to incubate and support innovative businesses that have the potential for a global impact - we're profiling some of the fellows. Up next is Audrey Tan, Co-Founder and CEO of Angels of Impact.

First of all, can you tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today?

Angels of Impact was launched in 2016 to serve impact businesses, corporates, conscious funders and consumers, to work together to support women-led businesses to alleviate poverty. Through our financing platform, we identify impact businesses and match them with funders to provide the capital they need to grow. Angels of Impact also curates goods produced by impact enterprises, and matches them to conscious corporates to open up market access as a value-added service.

What global challenge(s) are you driven to solve? Tell us about your innovation, venture or work. What are you doing that is different to others in your field? How are you pushing boundaries?

Our purpose at Angels of Impact is to help create a world without poverty. We believe investing in, and consuming responsibly-produced goods made by women living in poverty helps us achieve three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: No Poverty, Gender Equality and Responsible Consumption and Production.

Our key point of difference is our focus on women-led businesses. Women often bear the brunt of poverty, due to their limited access to information, resources and services to change their situation. This in turn negatively impacts their communities, their children and their families. But while research has shown women to be good investments and key agents of change (UN reports), female social entreprises still receive less funding compared to their male counterparts.

Rather than subscribing to a charity/donation model, we’ve gathered a community of ‘Angels’ to find new revenue sources to fund social enterprises. We also provide women with the mentorship to help them flourish into high-impact sustainable businesses.  

What initially made you want to bring your work to New Zealand?

New Zealand is known to be socially-minded, and the first country in the world to grant women the rights to vote.

As Angels of Impact looks outward to start setting up local chapters, New Zealand’s history of gender equality offers a unique platform. We see New Zealand as well-placed to be a leader, and a destination for women entrepreneurs looking to create global impact, and investors looking to support them.

Can you tell us a bit about the process of applying for the Global Impact Visa through the Edmund Hillary Fellowship? What was it like to go through and be selected?

The process of applying for the Edmund Hillary Fellowship was highly professional, speedy and inspiring. The team at Edmund Hillary Fellowship asked some really good questions that deeply resonated with me as an entrepreneur and investor. It was a fun process and it’s incredibly humbling to be able to be selected as part of the first cohort. We are deeply grateful to be part of such an amazing community and can’t wait to make a global (Angels of) impact from Aotearoa ;).

What do you find inspiring about New Zealand?

He tangata, He tangata, He tangata. The nature, the depth of Maori culture and history deeply inspires me. Also, the people, the quality I love about Kiwis: the humility and warmth.

What has been the most surprising thing about New Zealand’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem?

Firstly, that there’s such a large and growing Blockchain community of people. There’s so much to learn from in this area!

Secondly, with communities like Enspiral, and the community of people around New Frontiers, I see a growing movement of organisations combining systems change thinking with spirituality and action.

There is powerful stuff that sets New Zealand apart from other places that I’ve been too. The combination of consciousness about stewardship of nature, resources and the larger ability to catalyse action around new models of innovation surprises me and excites me tremendously.

Putting work and innovation aside for a second…what have you explored in New Zealand?

We’ve explored the marae around Wellington, that has been quite an eye-opener and with so much richness in history and art. The depth of history in New Zealand is really inspiring.

We also spent a fair bit of time in Whiteman’s Valley, on the farm, enjoying the nature and literally soaking on the grass!  

What would you say to other entrepreneurs or investors thinking about building or supporting startups in New Zealand?

Begin with the community in mind. Look to link up with a community of people in New Zealand who you can listen to and learn from about how you can invest in companies where you can add value. The reverse is similar as well, for entrepreneurs, to find a community where you can have support in being listened to, and then finding ways to collaborate.

Tell us about some of the people you’ve met in New Zealand so far, and how they’ve helped shape your journey.

Meeting with the Edmund Hillary Fellowship team and fellows, New Frontiers Community including Kiwis in Blockchain space, Simon, Adam, Adele, Mark from Asia New Zealand Foundation, friends like Rochelle, Angela as well as ASEAN contingent from the Young Business Leaders Network, Lingy from Creative HQ, Antony from the Enspiral Community, fellow Catholics from the ICPE mission in Wellington and really opened my eyes to the thought leadership, culture, history and startup ecosystem of creative Kiwis, professionals, entrepreneurs and investors. I’m truly excited to see what the community who’s been convened here to New Zealand can do together in terms of impacting global challenges from New Zealand. Each interaction has enabled me to learn how we can be of service to the local community to work with more women-led social enterprises impacting poverty, as well as exchange learnings for how to better serve the communities we work with in ASEAN. I see a reciprocal learning experience in our shared learnings. I’m truly excited to see what is to come in the future! 

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