SINGAPORE: Eighteen local entrepreneurs were awarded The Entrepreneur of the Year Award (EYA) 2018 on Wednesday (Oct 10).
Out of the winners, 11 individuals bagged awards under the Established Entrepreneur category, while another seven won under the New Entrepreneur category.
One Established Entrepreneur winner was Mr Derrick Yap, CEO of PBA International.
Mr Yap joined his father’s bearings distribution firm in 2002, ultimately turning it into one of Southeast Asia’s largest robotics and automation companies.
“The biggest challenge was the transition. We went from a low-risk business with a simple business model and short-term view, to a higher-risk business with a much longer-term view. It was a venture into the unknown,” said the 39-year-old.
The firm, which started out in 1987, now has 30 companies in its group, offices in 10 countries and over 500 employees across Asia.
The award was a sweet achievement for Mr Yap, who said it was personally significant as his father had previously won the award for his trading business.
“Now we can say the company has changed and it’s multi-generational, but we are still winning awards.”
CHALLENGE AS PART OF GROWTH
Another Established Entrepreneur winner was Mr Saumik Bera, CEO and director of Real Yoga.
The 35-year-old opened his first yoga studio in 2008, but the business has now grown to include four outlets in Singapore, two in Indonesia and two in India.
Real Yoga now has 25,000 members under its belt, he said.
The business has also faced several obstacles over the 10 years since its establishment – such as an ever-evolving market and negative publicity.
However, Mr Bera said this challenge is to be relished.
“Challenges are part of parcel of growth. Challenges grow us, make us stronger and make us better. So it’s how positively you receive it, how creative you are in understanding and overcoming it. That is the best part of this entrepreneurial journey,” he said.
NEW ENTREPRENEURS ALSO RECOGNISED
New entrepreneurs with “keen business acumen” were also celebrated.
One such individual is Mrs Novie Djayayanti Tjoa, managing director of catering company Eatz Group.
After her first business venture – a 24-hour eatery – failed in the early 2000’s, she pressed on with another idea.
Her catering company, which started in 2005 with six people, now hires about 60 staff.
Her two latest catering brands, Catering Culture and Masala Kitchen, were set up in 2011.
“It means a lot to me – it recognises my team and company, and is proof that we are on the right path for (future) growth,” said Mrs Tjoa.
The EYA is now in its 30th year, and is the oldest award in Singapore which honours local entrepreneurs’ achievements.
Mr Thomas Fernandez, co-chairman of the EYA 2018 Organising Committee, Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME) said, “A salient qualifier of an entrepreneur is that he or she must embrace challenges, learning as he or she prods along … The award will put them on a platform, boost their morale and take them to the next level.”