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Shermeen's Path to Environmental Innovation - A Venture Builder's Story

Shermeen Ng Siew Moi, a part-time SUSS Bachelor of Business student who participated in Venture Builder 2023.

Shermeen Ng Siew Moi, a Venture Builder Programme alumna and a student from SUSS' Part-time Bachelor of Business degree programme, is a strong advocate for environmental conservation. Her deep sadness upon witnessing the destructive impacts of deforestation and environmental degradation ignited her desire to protect the environment and pave the way for a sustainable future.

Driven by her environmental concerns and being a resident in a high-rise building with limited sunlight, Shermeen decided to develop her own modular hydroponic system. She initially explored existing options for affordable hydroponic systems but found them either too costly or too large for her needs. This led her to design a hydroponic system to tailor to her needs. The system will recycle water and optimise growing conditions, which allow residents in high-rise buildings to plant their own vegetables.  Additionally, Shermeen has explored the idea of developing an app to promote community sharing of the produce.

Shermeen's ideas led her to SUSS Agri-preneur Incubation Programme which opened doors for her to join the SUSS Venture Builder Programme. This is where she harnessed the mentorship and training resources to transform her vision of developing affordable farming technology into reality. The programme, featuring diverse workshops covering MVP development and the Art of Pitching, enriched her with invaluable insights.

Through ideation and idea validation, Shermeen engaged in conversations with friends, acquaintances and strangers, discovering that nearly 90% of those she spoke to expressed a strong interest in home crop cultivation.

Shermeen's journey was not without its share of obstacles and challenges, but she learned how to overcome them through these tangible experiences. She emphasised the importance of validating concepts and cultivating essential competencies, noting that "a good idea is just a good idea if it does not have a market that is ready for it."

As she further explored her venture, she encountered challenges when considering the manufacturing of an affordable hydroponic system. The high costs prompted her to pivot her business concept, which led to the establishment of MATCHA.BLACK. This is a premium Japanese matcha brand catering to health-conscious individuals seeking a nutritious alternative to coffee and traditional tea. Beyond its commitment to quality and convenience, the brand champions the empowerment of women and gender equality. By offering an exclusive range of products sourced directly from women-led tea farms and small businesses, they challenge gender bias in the agricultural sector. A portion of their proceeds will be going to the training of low-income female farm workers in ASEAN, to equip them to take on higher-paying positions at the farms and subsidise their wages.

Shermeen’s passion for supporting female-led farms stemmed from her research of women farmers where they are stripped of their distinct identity as they are often referred to as "farmer's wives". This misidentification often results in women farmers being relegated to lower-paying roles and manual labour tasks due to their gender. Conversely, men are typically assigned tractor-operating roles, leading to higher wages and opportunities denied to women. This inspired Shermeen to champion the cause of women farmers, a pivotal aspect of her new business venture.

Shermeen’s advice to prospective Venture Builder students is: “Being coachable and flexible is important if one wishes to get the most out of their time in the programme and to be successful in their own entrepreneurial journey.”

Embark on your journey to create a thriving impact-driven venture by taking that pivotal first step – Join our info session to learn more about the SUSS Venture Builder Programme.

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