In this special column called the “TLC x Fempreneurs Series”, we will be featuring inspiring Female Entrepreneurs (Fempreneurs) in short. You will be able to have a sneak peek at their mindsets and their daily habits.
Believe in the power of community. On some days when you feel big goals are impossible, or when you feel like giving up, you need to lean on your like-minded community. You can even “borrow” motivation, and in turn “return” with your own inspiring stories to pay it forward.
Meet Tanya Rolfe (Sophia)
Tell us a little about yourself. What is your business/brand about?
Sophia is a learning platform in Asia providing much-needed financial education for women and increasing diversity and inclusion in early-stage investing.
What got you started on your business?
In 2021, I started a venture capital fund for women entrepreneurs across Asia. Women founders receive less than 3% of all venture capital dollars so there really is a huge opportunity in backing women. I want to see more women-led innovation in the world and therefore set out to fund amazing women founders. Sadly, it was on this journey that I really discovered that gender biases start right at the top of the capital flow. Institutional investors invest in a small handful of venture fund managers who in turn invest in a small handful of founders. Sadly women do really feature in these ‘small handfuls’ at either stage. I realized that we need to tap into the untapped – to mobilize the wealth held by women in order to address these issues. Sophia wants to see women empowered and educated on financial matters to allow for mobilizing their capital, increasing their personal wealth, and driving capital towards women entrepreneurs.
Before you started on your business, what did you do on a full-time basis?
I ran a venture fund and before that, I worked in large corporate law firms.
What were some difficulties you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?
I think the challenges of fundraising as a female fund manager were one of the toughest things I went through professional speaking and it also led to challenges within the team. Likely one of those experiences in my life that taught me the most about people – the good and the bad. Through that experience, and I look back now and can see how both have delivered me to Sophia and my new team and I can almost say, ok that was worth it because
a) I learned a lot about people
b) learned a lot about myself and
c) would not swap where I am now for anything.
Sometimes you can’t overcome things, sometimes you just have to ride it out and sit with the discomfort, the pain, and the stress, and slowly you come through it. I would say this is what I had to do.
Who inspires you?
As I have aged, I have chosen more and more of my friends based on many attributes but one is an inspiration. I surround myself with friends who inspire me.
What excites you most about your industry?
One of the biggest upsides of being in a space that is in such bad shape is that the impact can be huge. Out of chaos comes opportunity and out of dirt, you can grow flowers.
What is your vision / personal motto?
Fortune favors the brave AND the bold.
Do you have any word of advice for other ladies who are starting their business/ starting to pursue their dream?
Network, network, network – surround yourself with what you want to be and find a select group of trusted advisors.
What have you learnt recently that you hope the other ladies can take back?
Women need to support other women and I want to see more women buying into that.
How do you think you can help ladies to feel confident and empowered?
I hope my work at Sophia will help women to gain this through coming together. It is my belief that women thrive in communities – they seek out others who look and sound like them. Sophia facilitates this community.
What is one thing you are grateful for?
My beautiful children.
What do you do in your free time as self-care? How do you unwind?
I value my free time a lot and focus a little every day on myself. I cycle, practice yoga and dance – often in my lounge with my children.
Let us know more about what you do!
Sophia will educate and empower women to think differently about money, gain confidence, increase their wealth, and at the same time, drive more investment in women entrepreneurs. It also provides a safe ecosystem to ask questions, share ideas and opportunities, and build a much-needed network and community.
You may also find us featured on Nikkei Asia, HoneyKid, and Business Times Money Hacks.
Connect with Sophia!
Are you a Fempreneur too?
Connect with us – we’d love to feature you! Say hi to us at [email protected] or reach out to us via our social media.