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  -  Business   -  Southeast Asia Business   -  SEA in Focus: Supporting Women’s Economic Empowerment through trade

27 February 2023

Following on from International Women’s Day, please join us on Thursday 16 March for an insightful conversation on ‘Supporting Women’s Economic Empowerment through Trade in Southeast Asia’. Hear from a stellar panel including Melissa Gollan, founder of world-disrupting FinTech Startup RIPA Global and winner of the Māori Business Woman Award for Innovation in 2019; Anna Guenther, Women in Export Lead at NZTE who helped to shape the recent OECD ’Trade and Gender Review’ of New Zealand; Professor Anna Strutt from the University of Waikato, experienced in capacity-building and advice to a range of national and international organisations in the region, and moderator and trade policy consultant Stephanie Honey.

Our experts will share their perspectives on the challenges and opportunities for women entrepreneurs in trade, with a particular focus on the dynamic markets of Southeast Asia. From access to finance and business skills, to the digital economy, to overcoming cultural barriers, our panellists will share their insights on innovative solutions and key factors in success. Whether you’re a policymaker, entrepreneur or exporter, or simply interested in advancing women’s economic empowerment at home and abroad, this discussion is not to be missed.

*Spaces are limited, so early registration is advised.

Thursday 16 March 2023
5:15 pm - 7 pm NZT
RHMZ03, Rutherford House, Victoria University of Wellington (Pipitea Campus) 33 Bunny Street, Pipitea, Wellington 6011


Stephanie Honey serves as policy advisor to the New Zealand members of the APEC Business Advisory Council and runs an independent trade policy consultancy working with government and business clients. She is also co-founder of a business offering executive education in trade policy.

Stephanie’s interests include regional economic integration especially in the Asia-Pacific, the WTO, agriculture and food trade, services trade, the digital economy, SMEs and women in trade; she has travelled and worked widely in the Asia-Pacific, Europe and more broadly.

Prior to becoming a consultant, Stephanie worked for many years as a trade negotiator for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including serving as the New Zealand Agriculture Negotiator in the WTO Doha Round in Geneva, at the New Zealand Mission to the EU in Brussels working on trade issues, as the senior New Zealand official responsible for the bilateral relationship with Australia and in a variety of other roles.


Anna Guenther is Women in Export Lead at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise where she is passionate about supporting and inspiring more women to export. In this role, she is focused on figuring out ways to increase the representation of both women-led companies, but also diversity in leadership across our export community.

Anna is also the co-founder and Chief Bubble Blower of PledgeMe. Since launching eight years ago, over 1,600 creative, community and entrepreneurial campaigns have raised almost $70 million through the platform. PledgeMe was the first licensed equity crowdfunding platform in New Zealand, and one of the first in Australia.

Anna has also worked for the New Zealand Government, MIT and Harvard, and completed her Masters in Entrepreneurship with a focus on crowdfunding. She cares deeply about social enterprise, equity in all its forms, and using technology to enhance community rather than replace it.

Melissa Gollan is the founder of the fintech start-up, RIPA Global, a closed loop platform for payments with data. She was named Leading Emerging Entrepreneur last year by Women Icons Network in Singapore for her driven entrepreneurship. She also won the Māori Women’s Development Incorporated (MWDI) Māori Businesswoman Award in Innovation in 2019.

Mel’s passion lies in innovating to elevate humanity and protect our earth. Designing technology that transforms the way Governments & business deploy funds and control spending. A descendant of a Māori Chief, she is a natural self-starter and born leader, who believes in the combined power of discipline and hard work.

She has previously held business development roles in hospitality, engineering and advertising. Through her vision and sharp business acumen and deep domain experience she successfully turned her frustrations with handling paper receipts into a patented solution. With the technology team headquartered in Wellington, the commercial headquarters of the business has chosen Singapore to launch their global growth strategy. With the relocation of Mel herself as Global CEO to Singapore, this is an dynamic and exciting time for the majority Māori owned business.

Anna Strutt is a Professor of Economics at the University of Waikato and Waikato Management School’s Academic Director for Asia Programmes and Agreements. Anna was a Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) Research Fellow at Purdue University and is currently a member of the Pacific Trade and Development International Steering Committee and an Advisor to UNESCAP’s Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade. She is also an Associate Editor of the Journal of Global Economic Analysis.

Anna teaches across a range of areas including economic policy analysis, international trade, global policy modelling, business economics and the global business environment. She has extensive capacity-building experience, particularly in Southeast Asia where she has taught numerous short courses. She regularly contributes to Purdue University’s short courses on global trade analysis.

Anna’s research is largely in international policy analysis, particularly quantitative analysis using large-scale global models. As well as publishing many academic papers, she has served as a consultant or expert advisor to a range of national and international organisations, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the World Bank.