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TrailblazersAudrey Tan On Using Tech To Battle Poverty

Audrey Tan On Using Tech To Battle Poverty

Photography: Longfei/Munster+LongFei; Hair and make-up: Angel Gwee, using Kevin.Murphy and Laura Mercier
Photography: Longfei/Munster+LongFei; Hair and make-up: Angel Gwee, using Kevin.Murphy and Laura Mercier
By Chong Seow Wei
May 23, 2019
The co-founder of Angels of Impact and PlayMoolah is harnessing the power of technology—and female leadership— to fight the causes of economic hardship. Here's how

There is a nerd in all of us—whether driven by the satisfaction of solving mathematical problems or obsessing over the mythical world in Game of Thrones. For Audrey Tan, her passion lies in alleviating poverty in Southeast Asia through technology.

“I’ve tinkered with technology since I was a teenager, and created my own fashion e-commerce website when I was 18,” says Tan. “In my third year at the National University of Singapore, I got to study technology entrepreneurship at Stanford University as part of the NUS Overseas College programme. It was then that I also did a product marketing stint at Qik, a live video mobile application firm, which opened my eyes to the benefits of using tech for good.”

Audrey and her Playmoolah co-founder, Min Lee (right). Image: Audrey Tan
Audrey and her Playmoolah co-founder, Min Lee (right). Image: Audrey Tan

Upon completing her overseas stint in 2009, Tan returned to Singapore and started PlayMoolah, with her friend Min Lee, to increase financial literacy among young people. In 2016, she established Angels of Impact with social impact investor Laina Greene. The purpose was to fund, support and provide marketplace access to female-led social enterprises battling poverty in the Asean region. Here, Tan describes the venture in her own words. 

Sparking change

“The idea for PlayMoolah came to me at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. I asked myself, ‘What is the root cause of financial illiteracy today?’ When we established the startup, Min and I drew inspiration from behavioural scientist BJ Fogg’s methods for designing persuasive technology. Our mission now is to empower youths and make them realise how money can help them achieve their goals and create value in the world.”   

Creating connections

Angels of Impact connects women-led social enterprises fighting poverty in Asean with a global network of funders and corporates, which supports them through market access, mentoring and funding. We currently work with 15 social enterprises, have customers in Google and Bloomberg, and have published a book on what women can do to end poverty.”

Our mission now is to empower young people and make them realise how money can help them achieve their goals and create value in the world

Audrey Tan

New perspective 

“Since going into social entrepreneurship, I’ve become more aware that while we live in a world of abundance, much inequality still exists in society and there are people who are still starving. So it’s crucial to share what we have with those who don’t.” 

Natural calling

“If not for Angels of Impact or PlayMoolah, I would still be finding other ways to tackle poverty. I’m doing what I’ve been called to do and will try to serve others in any capacity that I can. Once the work is done, it will be time for me to move on to the next thing I can help with.”  

Quick-fire Q&A

Happiness is…
When my loved ones are happy, healthy and able to live their dreams 

A living person I admire…
Pope Francis 

Most underrated virtue…
Courage 

Unexpected passions…
Sports, music, art and fashion 

Tags

Trailblazersaudrey tansocial entrepreneurplaymoolahangels of impact

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