The idea that women entrepreneurs in Vietnam are not getting enough funding or are often sidelined by Venture Capitalists has always bothered Shuyin Tang. Having worked in Impact Investing (a term she first heard a decade ago while working in India and the reason she moved to Vietnam) for years, she knows firsthand the importance of having enough financial support to succeed in the business world.
“Vietnam has become a hot market for funding. With the incredible handling of COVID-19 last year, everyone wants to put their money into Vietnam,” shares Shuyin. “But there’s a particular segment that seems to not get the attention it deserves. Why are there less women entrepreneurs getting the funding they need?”
Shuyin didn’t wait for an answer. She created the solution herself when she built Beacon Fund, which aims to make the fundraising process more transparent and accessible for female entrepreneurs. Today, Beacon Fund does not just help small businesses to thrive, but recognizes and celebrates them and their victories, no matter how small.
“One common reason this happens is that venture capitalists think these businesses are not scalable enough or are not addressing a billion-dollar market. But if you come to think of it, these businesses have thrived even without significant funding. So this means they’ve grown organically, and thus, profitable.”
Patamar Capital, an SEA-focused impact investing firm where Shuyin is currently a Partner, was instrumental in seeding Beacon Fund and getting it off the ground to pursue its mission.
The start-up world has become so competitive, with the emergence of tech-focused projects giving next-gen solutions in a fast-moving world. Some prosper and become “unicorns”, those that are valued at more than $1 billion. But not everyone gets to that point.
“I think most companies are more like zebras — they come in different stripes,” says Shuyin. And these companies are, more than anything, interested in sustainable growth. They are characterized by doing real business, focusing on alleviating social challenges while also tending to their own profitability.
“We want to be the partner of choice for this type of business.” The Beacon Fund focuses on debt products, which are better fit for the moderate growth, cash-flow positive businesses. This alternative funding model seeks to change the rules of finance and deliver solutions that work for women.