Asia's Most Influential: Myla Villanueva, Chairwoman of MDI Group
Myla Villanueva is the founder of five start-up companies and a pioneering woman in technology. But she’s best known for her work in securing the integrity of the Philippines’ voting process as national chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting.
Villanueva’s efforts to conduct non-partisan voter education and to reform poll watching across the country have developed over the last decade since the introduction of automated elections. “There needed to be a new poll watchers’ education protocol and, conversely, a primer on how to vote and shade those circles on a ballot,” she said in 2019.
Villanueva mobilises an enormous number of volunteers for this initiative to ensure clean elections and has been widely praised for her management skills, which have echoes in both her technology business and her work on clean and honest elections. (She introduced one of the country’s earliest broadband wireless companies targeting educational institutions and developed software to enable low-cost access to online content on mobile devices, both start-up ventures that were eventually acquired by telecommunications giant Smart Communications.)
In order to encourage more young people to become involved in volunteerism, she has also developed a digital platform focused on volunteer mobilisation and raising political awareness.