5 Inspiring Filipina Leaders and Entrepreneurs You Should Know About

Discover the inspiring stories of Filipina leaders and entrepreneurs. Learn about the challenges these trailblazers faced and overcame, and how they’re paving the way for a more diverse and equitable future. There are women who are breaking barriers in their own little ways. Those making a difference in their communities and inspiring others.

From community organizers to educators, these women are proof that even minor actions can have significant impacts. Here are 5 inspiring Filipina leaders and entrepreneurs you should know about:

1. Kia Abrera

Kia Abrera is an EduCreator and the CEO of Braveworks Inc., a content marketing agency for education creators. Braveworks’ education arm is The Brave Creators Lab, a learning community that aims to provide support and nurture creatives to become better entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs to be better creatives. She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a film degree and more than 15 years of experience in the creative industry.

Kia AbreraImage: www.bravecreatorslab.com

She is passionate about disrupting education and believes that everyone has creative potential that can fuel and design a life of true success and significance. She founded The Brave Creators Lab to provide accessible and affordable quality education to aspiring creators and creative entrepreneurs. The online learning platform offers a free community, specialized courses, and resources on various topics, such as content creation, video marketing, and branding. She also gives workshops and talks to corporations, cities, schools, and local and international organizations on topics of creative entrepreneurship, content marketing, personal branding, creative confidence, and design thinking. Aside from running Braveworks Inc and The Brave Creators Lab, Kia is also a sought-after speaker and mentor.

She has spoken at various events and workshops, sharing her knowledge and inspiring others to pursue their passions. She also mentors young entrepreneurs and creatives, helping them navigate the challenges of starting and growing their own businesses. In 2022, she founded the Likha Creative Entrepreneurship Summit. This major event brings creatives together to network, collaborate and learn from local and international expert educators to help hold Filipino creatives to a higher standard and make their mark in the global creative economy. Kia’s dedication to education and entrepreneurship is truly inspiring. She is a shining example of a woman who breaks barriers in her own way by empowering others to create and innovate. Through her work, she is making a difference in the lives of countless individuals and paving the way for a more inclusive and entrepreneurial society.

2. Hello Cafe Owners: Irish Kleine Ortiz, Krichelle Marie Soguilon, and Lesley Ann Padilla 

Another set of women breaking the glass ceiling in their industry is the owners of Hello Cafe, located in Tagaytay. Irish Kleine Ortiz, Krichelle Marie Soguilon, and Lesley Ann Padilla are the co-founders of Hello Cafe, a coffee shop that is a 100% women-led operation.

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Photo from their Facebook Page: L-R: Lesley Ann Padilla, Krichelle Marie Soguilon, and Irish Kleine Ortiz

All of their baristas are women who are experts in the coffee industry. In fact, their head, Yves Aguilar, is a member of Philippine Coffee Build. In almost all of the cafes and specialty coffee shops here in Tagaytay, she helped curate a few drinks. Despite the predominantly male-dominated coffee industry, these women have proven that gender does not determine one’s ability to succeed in order to deliver a distinctively different coffee experience.

Hello just opened last October 7, 2022, and we were all ecstatic but at the same time hopeful of what the future brings us,” says Irish, an HR Practioner as a profession. When asked to give a few words of encouragement to fellow startups and entrepreneurs, she said, “Plan and execute. We’ve been putting off the idea of starting a business for a while. We realized that it would only stay a pipe dream if we didn’t do something. So, work on your dreams.” Well said!

3. Mona Duay 

Mona Duay is the Executive Chef and Executive Director of FL Tagaytay Restaurants Corporation. Under the supervision of Executive Chef Mona, Reynaldo’s Steakhouse in Tagaytay is another example of a business that advocates for women and inclusivity.

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Photo from Reynaldo’s Facebook Page

Their kitchen is 100% women-led, from the executive department to the rank and file. These women are given the opportunity to showcase their skills and talents. The restaurant recognizes that gender does not determine one’s ability to be a great chef and is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive work environment. “At first, I am also skeptical of ‘manning’ the kitchen cos, as you know, when we say ‘chef,’ we always think of a man right away. I still get those reactions of confusion or, better yet, mesmerized when they meet a woman executive chef,” Chef Mona explained.

In words of encouragement, Chef Mona shared, “Being successful is not about a position or what, but how people perceive leadership and gender equality.” Chef Mona and her team prove that gender shouldn’t be an issue in pursuing your dreams. Everyone is equal and should be successful in their own little way, regardless if it is about work or self-improvement.

4. Odette Huang

Meet Odette Huang, General Manager of Joy Nostalg Hotel and Suites Manila by Accor. Ms. Odette Huang is another woman who is breaking through the glass ceiling in her industry. As a woman in a leadership position, she is paving the way for other women in the hospitality industry. Working for the hospitality industry requires not only determination but also grit.

Odette Huang

Photo from: Hospitalitynews.ph

The question is, how do you overcome biases and barriers to ensure your values are intact? Huang shares: “Over the years, I have observed that women have been able to carve out their own unique space in the hospitality industry and have assumed various positions of leadership. In fact, it’s encouraging to see that more and more women are being appointed as general managers in the industry. One of the key reasons for this, in my opinion, is that women possess a remarkable blend of qualities that make them effective leaders. They are able to exhibit firmness and decisiveness when the situation demands it, while also being empathetic and compassionate towards their colleagues and customers.

Odette also spearheaded their e-shop to ensure they always provide high-quality customer service by allowing their customers to choose the best staycation deals they can get.

5. Pia Ugarte – Viajecito.com

Pia Ugarte is the founder and CEO of Viajecito, a 100% women-led company that produces fashionable and sturdy travel and everyday essentials.

Pia Ugarte

Photo: Pia Ugarte LinkedIn Profile

Before starting Viajecito, Pia worked in the corporate world as a marketing professional for over a decade. However, she always had a passion for sustainable living and travel, which eventually led her to start her own company.

Viajecito is located in Manila, Philippines, and this amazing company is an all-women team that works together with their factories to create colorful and unique products that aim to bring out positive energy! “Most of our employees are women, and they are all magnificent,” she excitedly shared during an interview at Lazada’s Epic 11th Birthday Sale last March.

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Image: www.shopviajecito.com.ph (Viajecito bags are splash-proof and completely tarnish-proof. They are sturdy, incredibly easy to clean, and definitely made for life.)

The brand is known for its splash-proof and tarnish-proof bags and specializes in creating stylish and functional travel essentials that make traveling more accessible and enjoyable. Viajecito offers many products, including its classy and famous Splash Kit, which is available in many colors that women can enjoy and use at any event. Check out the complete list of items on their Lazada account or their website, www.shopviajecito.com.ph.

Celebrating women’s leadership every day

We recognize the remarkable achievements of women leaders who pave the way for future generations. Their stories of resilience, perseverance, and dedication inspire women worldwide, reminding us that anything is possible with hard work and determination.

Know inspiring women in your life? Tell us about them in the comments!