I met Elaine Kim briefly when a mutual friend introduced us at a meeting. When I found out she was the co-founder of CRIB, a Singapore-based social enterprise which aims to empower women to become successful entrepreneurs through networking, matchmaking and business incubation, my interest was piqued and I wanted to know more.
When I interviewed her, I found out that she was much more than just co-founder of CRIB. She is also a doctor in palliative care and co-owns bridal boutiques in Hong Kong and Singapore. She shares more about her entrepreneurial journey here…
1. What inspired you to start CRIB?
My co-founder Tjin and I are both entrepreneurs and at her birthday party a little over a year back, we were discussing bringing our kids on a play date on a weekday afternoon, and realised how fortunate we are to have fulfilling careers as well as flexibility and control over our time thanks to entrepreneurship. Building a successful business is very challenging however, especially for women, so we wanted to build an ecosystem to help them meet their needs.
Unless you start, nothing will happen.
2. Women tend to place limitations upon themselves, whether self-imposed or by others. How did you overcome your own mental barriers?
Women tend to have a lack of confidence in starting a business. I overcame it by just going ahead and making a plan, taking a first step and taking the plunge. Unless you start, nothing will happen. I was also very fortunate to have a supportive and encouraging husband. In addition, a huge factor was that I had co-founders to complement my own skills and to share the workload and weight of owning a business with.
Specific to CRIB, our biggest challenge is raising the capital to fund our programmes and operations. We are a not-for-profit and aim to be financially self-sustainable, but as is the case in many a start-up, raising the initial seed funding is the hardest. But again, we have to make a plan, make our first steps and take the plunge , and I trust we will overcome any challenges.
I have learned to separate time at work and with kids to be more productive when working and give the kids my full attention when I’m with them.
3. How do you balance managing a business and family?
I’m incredible blessed to have a lot of support- a supportive husband and family, good business partners, a great team at the hospice, good helpers at home, and 2 easy-going sons. Also I work really hard, while being committed to taking advantage of the flexibility and control I have with my time to make family a priority, eg working at the hospice while the kids are at school and planning business meetings during my sons’ nap time so I maximize the quality time I have with them.
4. How do you involve your children/spouse in the business?
My husband is a venture capitalist at Amasia, and has years of experience in the finance industry working at a hedge fund and Goldman Sachs, so I always turn to him for advice on investment and financial matters. I try to bring my children with me whenever I can , but I also have learned to separate time at work and with kids to be more productive when working and give the kids my full attention when I’m with them.
5. How would you encourage other mums who are thinking about starting their own business?
Just take that first step and see where it leads! And join CRIB, helping women to start and grow businesses is what we are here for. Many of our CRIB society members join even when entrepreneurship is just an idea they are contemplating – and CRIB is good place to explore further.
6. What gets you going every day?
As a Christian, my faith, the desire to live according to the plans God has for me, be a blessing to others and make a positive impact through what I am doing gets me going every day.
7. What is your favourite part about working on CRIB?
The incredible people who are part of CRIB, from my passionate co-founders, Tjin, Marilyn and Mei, the growing CRIB team without whom none of our plans can become a reality, our growing community of CRIB society members, our inspiring board advisors and the panel of mentors who are successful entrepreneurs themselves.
Thanks, Elaine and the team at CRIB, for working to enhance the business environment for women in Singapore!
Check out CRIB and its offerings here!