MANILA -- A Filipina is one of the winners in the inaugural Lazada Forward Women Awards, which recognizes trailblazers in the e-commerce space.
Georgianna Carlos was given the Enterprising Seller award, along with Lalilla Thamnita of Thailand's AggieHome.
A former teacher, Carlos is the founder of Fetch, which offers all-natural pet care products using ingredients sourced from local communities.
She said her business started because of her pet dog, Drogo.
"He is wonderful, but he is allergic to all types of shampoos when I first got him -- until I discovered a brand from Europe which he responded well to," she said in a pre-recorded video shown during the virtual ceremony for the Lazada Forward Women Awards.
"When I checked the ingredients list, I discovered that the main ingredient was neem -- neem that grows in the Philippines. From there, I found a partner chemist and we launched our very first pet care line under the Fetch brand called the Neem Pet Care System," she added.
Carlos was eventually able to bring Fetch to Lazada, admitting that "there was a bit of a learning curve" when she started selling her products on the e-commerce site.
But she later on realized how the platform was able to help her grow her brand, even amid the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
"The pandemic hit a lot of businesses really hard, Fetch included. The Philippines went under lockdown and all couriers and other logistics companies had to stop. But we are thankful that Lazada was there because through their platform, we are able to keep our operations going under lockdown," she said.
Other winners in the Lazada Forward Women Awards include Anne Ong of Anne's Secret Recipes in Singapore and Pham Thi Xuan Hong of PinkShopGiayDep in Vietnam, who received the Creative Seller award; and Hanna Suhardi of Shopping Shoes in Indonesia and Annie Chia of NLWK Florist in Malaysia, who were given the Inspiring Seller award.
While it involves a lot of challenges, Carlos said she finds fulfillment in being an entrepreneur.
She hopes that her story can inspire those who wish to dip their toes into business, particularly women who are "considering a new career path."
"Change is the only constant. I actually wanted to be a psychologist or work in education. In fact, my very first job was being a teacher. My parents raised me telling me that a career path is not always linear. It can change and you can experiment, and you can actually learn from it," she said.
"I hope this serves as an inspiration for more aspiring female entrepreneurs to embark on their business journeys. It will be great to continuously uplift our community of small local businesses as we learn and grow together," she added.
For his part, Lazada Philippines chief executive officer Ray Alimurung said they are "proud of Georgianna and all of our sellers across the region" over their latest achievement.
"We are happy to foster an ever-growing community of female entrepreneurs, as they continue to make their mark and uplift the industry with their inspiring stories," he said.