CRIB: Singapore’s first business and lifestyle incubator targeted at women
Founded in September 2014 by four women, CRIB is Singapore’s first business and lifestyle incubator targeted at women. An acronym for Creating Responsible and Innovative Businesses, the social enterprise aims to empower and encourage women from all walks of life to create successful and innovative businesses through networking, matchmaking and business incubation – all this while maximising the elusive goal of achieving a fulfilling work-life balance.
Crib’s founders, Tjin Lee, Dr Elaine Kim, Marilyn Lum, and Mei Chee, come from backgrounds as varied as fashion, healthcare and technology. Accomplished women in their own rights, they found that it was not always easy to chart their careers with demands of the family. CRIB was born out of their hope that by forming this network of support and mentorship, more women will be able to realise their dreams of entrepreneurship and take better control of their lives.
An Inclusive Incubator
CRIB’s incubator scheme stands out amongst the many others in Singapore that focus solely on technology-based startups, leaving out entrepreneurs who have other interests, as is usually the case for women. CRIB shares that women tend to be more inclined to want to start businesses that strongly feature a social aspect, and the business proposals they have seen so far reflect that.
While CRIB actively seeks out female members and entrepreneurs, they do not neglect to acknowledge the importance of male involvement in their cause. They have a number of men in their network who attend events as mentors and potential investors. As a serial entrepreneur herself, co-founder Dr Elaine Kim reminds us that the men at home also need to be supportive. “It is crucial that the men support [their wives], be understanding husbands, and realise that entrepreneurship is not an easy task, that it takes a lot of commitment.” She adds that “women for women is important, but so is men for women.”
How it works
Visitors to the CRIB website are invited to take a short quiz, CRIB’s proprietary ABC Entrepreneur Profile matching tool, to identify their entrepreneurial strengths. One is determined to be predominantly an Angel (the one with access resources), a Business Management guru, or a Creative (the one with an endless stream of ideas and innovations). This profiling makes it easier for members to seek out diverse skill sets when looking for potential business partners.
Membership fees start at SGD80 for a year, gaining one access to regular CRIB networking events. These sessions are kept casual to be conducive for the open sharing and refining of business ideas and dreams amongst members.
For members who feel ready to bring their ideas into action, CRIB welcomes submissions of business proposals and provides these women with feedback and advice. Proposals that have potential are then invited to pitch to a wider range of mentors and investors to raise funding for their businesses.
In the span of just half a year since its soft launch, CRIB has grown to more than 100 members, and at least two business proposals have progressed to the fund-raising stage.
Launch of the CRIB Women for Women Initiative
The CRIB Women for Women Initiative showcases Singapore’s most iconic women entrepreneurs and their homegrown brands to inspire the next generation of Singapore’s women entrepreneurs.
These seasoned local women entrepreneurs include (from top, left to right) Elim Chew (77th Street), Claire Chiang (Banyan Tree), Anastasia Liew (Bengawan Solo), Carolyn Kan (Carrie K), Julia Gabriel (Julia Gabriel Education), Cheryl Gan (Mount Sapola), Priscilla Shunmugam (Ong Shunmugam), Shermay Lee (Shermay’s Cooking School), and Sabrina Tan (Skin Inc). They join CRIB as mentors and business consultants.
As a further gesture of their support and commitment to CRIB and the CRIB Women for Women Initiative, the nine entrepreneurs have also pledged products and services worth at least S$1000 to CRIB. These include hotel and spa packages, beauty treatments and educational products, and will be sold to the public on CRIB’s website from June. The proceeds raised will go into CRIB Equip, an arm of CRIB which provides professional training programmes, seminars, mentorship, speaker events, business advisory and services to CRIB members seeking to advance their business ideas or existing businesses.
Co-founder Tjin Lee shares, “With this initiative, we hope to further propel women entrepreneurs with inspirational stories and advice from their predecessors, as well as to provide the emotional and financial boost they require.”
Committed to empowering and encouraging women from all walks of life to create successful, responsible and innovative businesses, CRIB is in the midst of curating an exhibition that will feature some of Singapore’s key entrepreneurs and their stories. This exhibition is part of the Initiative and will be made available to the general public in September 2015.