A passionate social entrepreneur with a diverse career background and global upbringing, Christine Amour-Levar has dedicated her life to empowering women and addressing the urgent challenge of climate change.
The founder of Women on a Mission (WOAM) and HER Planet Earth, Christine leads non-profit organisations that empower women affected by violence and abuse, as well as raising awareness and funds for underprivileged women impacted by climate change. Her expertise extends to her consultancy business, where she helps clients develop marketing, communications, CSR and sustainability strategies.
We caught up with Christine to learn what being an impact entrepreneur is all about!
Hey Christine! Could you share a bit about your story?
I'm of French, Swiss, and Filipino descent, and grew up between Manila, Paris, and Tokyo. I started my professional journey at Nike in the US, working for them across the world, which eventually took me to Singapore. I continued to build my international career here as a marketing & communications specialist and social entrepreneur focused on women’s rights and sustainability.
I set up Women on a Mission (WOAM) in 2012 and HER Planet Earth in 2017, two not-for-profit organisations that take all-female teams on pioneering expeditions to support worthy causes. HER Planet Earth's primary objective is to raise awareness and funds for underprivileged women affected by climate change, via wildlife conservation and sustainable agriculture projects, while WOAM aims to empower women who have been subjected to violence and abuse, through education and skills training programs.
Today I run my own consultancy business helping clients to define their purpose and develop their marketing, communications, CSR, and sustainability strategies. More recently, I led Marketing & Communications at Temasek Trust, the philanthropic arm of Singapore's Sovereign Wealth Fund, Temasek Holdings. I am also a board member and advisor to several purpose-led organisations in the social impact and sustainability spaces, with a focus on impact investing and climate tech.
You wear many hats! What are some of your most memorable projects?
2023 has been off to a great start! In January, I joined the board of Investible VC to support the launch of their global climate tech fund in Singapore. This is very much in line with the personal commitment I set in Davos the year before, to rally our collective energies to help fund and scale up sustainable and game-changing innovations and solutions to tackle the critical challenge of our time, climate change.
In February, I travelled to Antarctica with a team of scientists from The Earth Observatory of Singapore as Expedition Manager to better understand the threat of the melting Antarctic ice sheet for Singapore and Southeast Asia. The scientists conducted a range of research activities there such as ice coring to understand past temperatures and the current rate of melting, sampling the Antarctic deep water to analyse its chemistry and its influence on the movement of the world's oceans, and air sampling to investigate microorganisms in the atmosphere. Our expedition was filmed by award-winning filmmaker, Liz Courtney, to form a second episode in the new documentary series Polar Impact Asia, which will be distributed across multiple streaming platforms in the third half of 2023.
And more recently, in April this year, I took a self-funded team of 12 women via HER Planet Earth to trek across the Knuckles Mountain Range of Sri Lanka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We successfully covered a total distance of 150km (100km on foot in 4 days and 50km on bike), and summited Gombaniya (1,906m), the highest peak of the range, as the first all-female team to ever attempt this feat. The expedition raised a total of $45,000 SGD for the economic empowerment of women affected by climate change in Sri Lanka - 96% of disasters in Sri Lanka are caused by extreme weather events, such as flooding, landslides, extreme winds, and drought.
Christine discusses striking a balance between family and entrepreneurship.
Do you feel attitudes toward sustainability in Singapore are changing or progressing?
Yes, attitudes toward sustainability have indeed been progressing. The Singaporean government and various stakeholders have recognized the importance of green practices and have taken significant steps to promote environmental consciousness and sustainable development.
For instance, Singapore has set ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions and has launched the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint to guide the nation's sustainability efforts. The introduction of measures like the carbon tax, investment in renewable energy, and the promotion of green buildings are further evidence of the country's commitment to sustainability.
What’s more, educational institutions and NGOs such as Zero Waste SG, where I serve as a board member, play a significant role in promoting sustainability awareness and practices. Zero Waste SG has been organising events, campaigns, and workshops to educate and engage the public for many years, fostering a culture of sustainability. And recently, we were thrilled to see the government pass a plastic bag charge for large supermarket operators which will come into effect in July 2023.
While progress is still needed, the overall trend indicates a positive shift in attitudes toward sustainability in Singapore. I am optimistic that the government's commitment, combined with the growing awareness and actions of individuals and organisations, is paving the way for a more sustainable future in this country.
Would you like to shout out any key businesses or innovators in Singapore that are doing better by people and planet?
There are several businesses in Singapore that are making conscious efforts to prioritise the well-being of people and the planet, here are some noteworthy ones:
Greenpac: A sustainable packaging solutions provider that focuses on reducing environmental impact. They offer eco-friendly packaging materials made from renewable resources, such as biodegradable and compostable alternatives to traditional plastics.
Edible Garden City: A local urban farming company that aims to transform underutilised spaces into productive food gardens. They promote sustainable agriculture practices, including organic farming, vertical farming, and community engagement.
The Social Space: A social enterprise that operates a chain of sustainable, socially conscious cafes in Singapore. They focus on ethical sourcing, serving organic and fair-trade food and beverages. The cafes also provide employment opportunities for marginalised individuals, supporting their integration into society.
Bettr Barista: A social enterprise that provides coffee education and training programs while also empowering disadvantaged individuals. They offer comprehensive barista training, focusing on sustainability, responsible sourcing, and fair-trade practices.
Given your busy routine, how would you describe your personal style for daily life?
I strive to be elegant and feminine but there is a real duality to how I dress!
If I’m not on an expedition, I will always try to dress up and be well put together. I like wearing jumpsuits and tailored jackets. I love dresses and often match my shoes with my belt and bag. I will wear simple jewellery and I can get very creative with my makeup, using various shades of eyeshadow and lipstick to match my mood. I feel fashion is a creative process of self-expression. My favourite colours are black, white, red, magenta, and blue. I prefer solid colours but can’t resist floral patterns on occasion.
But I’m never more excited than when I pull out my expedition gear to start packing for one of my off-the-beaten-track adventures to remote corners of the world!
Being a busy entrepreneur, mother, and wife, how do you strike a balance between your work, sustainability advocacy and time with family?
I try to be very organised with my time and schedule. I’ll admit I am a bit of a workaholic, but it’s true what they say - when you work for yourself and enjoy what you do, it does not feel like work at all, and you find boundless energy.
It’s called being in “flow”, which refers to a state of optimal performance and engagement in an activity. Coined by positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the concept of flow describes a state where individuals are fully immersed in an activity, feeling energised, focused, and enjoying a sense of complete absorption in what they are doing.
As a climate, social impact, and sustainability advocate, what keeps you inspired and motivated?
Empowering and supporting women, especially vulnerable women, has become my life’s mission. And taking that mission to heart has kept me focused and motivated. I am very consciously aligning this mission with my philanthropic initiatives but also with my consultancy and advisory work. I am determined to increase my impact by raising awareness about women’s rights and moving capital towards sustainable solutions and innovations to protect and preserve the natural world.
As a mother of four, I recognize the urgent need to address climate change, conserve biodiversity, and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come. I am driven by the vision of leaving a positive legacy for my children and future generations.
The beauty and interconnectedness of nature that I see during my expeditions especially, serves as a constant source of inspiration to me. I am determined to continue to make a meaningful difference in society, whether it's through promoting renewable energy, advocating for social justice, or implementing sustainable practices.
Additionally, being part of a like-minded community of individuals and organisations working towards similar goals can be incredibly inspiring. I surround myself with people who share this passion for positive impact, and this fuels and inspires me to look at challenges as new opportunities. Supporting start-up founders through my work allows me to be close to innovative solutions and creative approaches that challenge the status quo and push the boundaries of what is possible – this is a very hopeful and positive place to be.
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