Change-Makers
Harper's BAZAAR Singapore|August 2020
Change-Makers
Bazaar’s league of extraordinary women this year features individuals and teams who took a long, hard look at the needs of our communities and stepped up to the challenge.
Stacey Rodrigues

CHARMAINE SEAH-ONG

Founder and General of Brand & Merchantry, and Co-founder of Elementary Co.

“For as long as I can remember, my parents have been very involved in the community,” says Charmaine Seah-Ong, 38. “Be it volunteer work, fundraising or mentoring, they were constantly taking on multiple projects, and made it a point to get my brothers and I involved, even though we were just little kids.”

It is no wonder then, that when she co-founded her branding and marketing agency Elementary Co. with husband Derek Ong in 2013, she took on numerous social good projects, and used the team’s creativity and network for the greater good.

One of the latest projects the company contributed to was the #HOMEFORALL Migrants initiative by the Collective of Migrant Efforts, which sought to raise funds to provide 20,000 migrant workers with rations over 10 days. Seah-Ong and her team joined forces with Kari Tamura Chua of SamaSama to get the word out about the fundraiser.

“With the help of visual storytelling studio 8EyedSpud, we got the artwork done up to effectively communicate the enormous task that the initiative had at hand, and reached out to nearly a hundred thought leaders, key opinion leaders, media personalities and even PR agencies within two days,” she shares. “There was no question about it—we knew it was something we needed to do.”

In less than a week, the initiative hit its $800,000 target, with donations continuing to pour in even after that. “It was heartening to know that there is so much kindness and generosity,” says Seah-Ong. “It made me feel hopeful during a time when there is so much negativity going around in the world.”

AMANDA CHONG

Lawyer, poet and o-founder of ReadAble

You could call Amanda Chong an overachiever. A graduate of the University of Cambridge and Harvard University, the 30-year-old excels as a lawyer— among other things, she topped the Singapore bar exams in 2013 and was, earlier this year, appointed to the Panel of Advisers to the Youth Court, which informs and advises the court in matters relating to the protection and rehabilitation of children and young persons.

But what’s just as impressive are her accomplishments outside her chosen profession. Chong is also an accomplished poet whose accolades include being shortlisted for the 2018 Singapore Literature Prize and having her words studied worldwide as part of the Cambridge International GCSE syllabus.

In 2014, she married her love for words with her commitment to driving positive change in society by co-founding non-profit organisation ReadAble (readablesg.com). With the aim of “beating poverty one word at a time”, it runs weekly reading and language arts classes for children and youths from low-income families in the Chin Swee area.

To help other underprivileged groups gain literacy, the recipient of the 2018 Singapore Youth Award, which recognises exceptional young people for their contributions to society, also runs writing mentorship workshops for migrant workers.

As she has shared on Instagram, her vision for Singapore is that “we would be a nation that listens to the stories of all its people and not just those with the loudest voices, and that we will build an inclusive narrative that welcomes everyone as equals to the table”.

In 2014, she married her love for words with her commitment to driving positive change in society by co-founding non-profit organisation ReadAble (readablesg.com). With the aim of “beating poverty one word at a time”, it runs weekly reading and language arts classes for children and youths from low-income families in the Chin Swee area.

To help other underprivileged groups gain literacy, the recipient of the 2018 Singapore Youth Award, which recognises exceptional young people for their contributions to society, also runs writing mentorship workshops for migrant workers.

As she has shared on Instagram, her vision for Singapore is that “we would be a nation that listens to the stories of all its people and not just those with the loudest voices, and that we will build an inclusive narrative that welcomes everyone as equals to the table”.

LYNN YEOWDE VITO

Co-founder of Loop PR and Sassy Mama

With a passion for the F&B industry, it was only natural that PR maven Lynn Yeow-De Vito lent her expertise to the #savefnbsg initiative (wearefnbsg.com) spearheaded by her restaurateur husband, Beppe de Vito, and hotelier and restaurateur Loh Lik Peng.

The movement—conceived after dine-in restrictions during circuit breaker increased the burden on F&B establishments already struggling with mounting costs and low or no revenue— lobbies for the interests of the F&B sector in these trying times.

The 39-year-old joined the duo in the push for restaurant owners to band together and form a stronger voice to advocate for regulation changes that offer some relief to F&B businesses—especially those that could not pivot quickly enough into an online-ordering-and-delivery model. The movement gathered pace quickly and in just over a week, grew to a coalition of more than 500—and counting—venues.

As F&B outlets welcome diners once again, albeit with safe distancing measures still in place, the call has shifted to #lovefnbsg. “F&B staff are still getting used to the new norm, which includes increased hygiene and sanitation efforts as well as temperature taking before entry,” explains Yeow-De Vito, “so we should show them a little more patience as we slowly reopen for business.”

KUAH CHEW SHIAN AND LISA TANG

Co-founders of Kausmo

If anyone told you that the ingredients at year-old restaurant Kausmo (kausmo. com) were rejects, you’d be much surprised. After all, the mod-European dishes all come simply but beautifully plated by chef and co-founder Lisa Tang, 25, who draws from her stints at Pollen, JAAN and Le Amis to present attractive plates. The taste, too, is excellent—no different than if aesthetically pleasing ingredients had been used.

Tang, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America, had worked at a zero-waste restaurant on a farm in Maine and was inspired to start a “thoughtful business” when she returned home. Together with co-founder and restaurant manager Kuah Chew Shian, 27, she set out to challenge food norms and reduce unnecessary food wastage.

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August 2020