Last Friday afternoon, the Vanda Ballroom of the Marina Mandarin buzzed with creative energy as Singapore’s most resolute entrepreneurs gathered to witness the official launch of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award (EYA) 2018. This launch marks 30 fruitful years of the EYA and also the inauguration of the EYA Alumni, an exclusive network comprising of visionary entrepreneurs who have won the EYA.
History of the EYA
During the event, Mr Lawrence Leow, PBM, CEO of Crescendas Group, Top Entrepreneur of EYA 2000, and now Chairman of the newly inaugurated EYA Alumni, gave a speech on the history of the Award.
The EYA was established in 1989 by the Rotary Club of Singapore to acknowledge the accomplishments of Singaporean entrepreneurs and to encourage entrepreneurship. True to the Rotary Club’s motto of Service Above Self, the EYA goes beyond the business side of entrepreneurship and honours entrepreneurs who actively contribute to society after gaining success. In 1992, the Rotary Club of Singapore invited the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME) to jointly organise the EYA. Through this strong collaboration, the EYA has grown to become one of Singapore’s most prestigious business accolade, representing the gold standard of Entrepreneurial Spirit.
The EYA Alumni
The Award Journey has provided winners with the finest learning opportunity as they can reflect on their business practices against evaluations acquired from a panel of veteran entrepreneurs. As such, many notable winners of the EYA such as Dr George Quek (BreadTalk Group), Mr Charles Wong (Charles & Keith International), Mr Frank Phuan (Sunseap Group Pte Ltd), and Ms Tay Zhen Ni Jenny & Mr Darren Cheng (Direct Funeral Services) have leveraged on the Award to propel their businesses to greater heights.
To celebrate 30 years of the EYA, the EYA Alumni was inaugurated to be the official platform for past, present and future EYA winners. This platform was born out of the vision to bring together local business leaders with promising new entrepreneurs in order to facilitate exchange, networking and learning opportunities.
As a testament to the government’s commitment of developing local SMEs, CEO of Enterprise Singapore, Mr Png Cheong Boon, will serve as the EYA Alumni’s Advisor. To quote Mr Png, “Local SMEs have always been an important part of our economy. Enterprise Singapore works with committed companies to build capabilities, innovate and internationalise, and we also support the growth of Singapore as a hub for global trading and startups. We believe that fostering entrepreneurship is key in nurturing and grooming the next generation of successful entrepreneurs that will shape and transform Singapore’s future.”
Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2018 – Striking Gold
To commemorate 30 golden years of the EYA, the theme for this year’s award is Striking Gold. Further elaborating on the theme, Mr Thomas Fernandez, CEO of PestBusters, former EYA winner and EYA 2018 Award Co-Chairman, recounted the story of R.U Darby.
Darby and his uncle lived during the gold rush days in the Wild West. Upon hearing the riches that lay in the mines of the western frontier, they did some preliminary digging in a mine at Colorado and found evidence of a vast deposit of gold. With this discovery, the two men raised funds, hired engineers and installed mining equipment at the site. The drills roared every day, but suddenly the gold ‘vein’ vanished and even after numerous attempts at digging further down and around, they could not find any gold. Hitting a wall, the two men felt foolish for even thinking that there was any gold in this mine. Surely, they thought, if there was gold in this mine, the more well-financed companies would have already been swarming the mine. Crushed, the two men decided to walk away and sold their equipment for pennies to a ‘junk’ man. This ‘junk’ man then hired an engineer to analyse the mine and after digging just 3 feet below where the Darby’s had stopped, they found millions of dollars in gold ore.
This story contains many teachable moments and in particular, highlights the qualities that a successful entrepreneur needs to have. More than a keen vision, an entrepreneur must commit to his/her vision and in spite of setbacks that are bound to come, one must also possess an unwavering perseverance to continue striving until the ‘gold is found’.
Building on the theme of gold, the design theme of the golden EYA 2018 trophy symbolises entrepreneurs striking gold in business to make a significant impact. The hard work, sheer determination and creativity of entrepreneurs are recognised with the EYA, and the award seeks to honour outstanding entrepreneurs who go above and beyond to achieve higher levels of success.
Be a part of the EYA
The value of the EYA comes not only from its prestige but also the journey. As a result of the rigorous judging process and the preparation work needed, many entrepreneurs have emerged from this award with a clearer plan and greater resolve to drive their company forward, whether or not they win. Recounting his experience during the panel discussion, Mr Jovan Yap, Managing Director of Moh Seng Cranes Pte Ltd, Top Entrepreneur of EYA 2012, said that the Award Journey helped him plug the gaps in his business model. Truly enriched by this award, Mr Yap calls on more entrepreneurs to take on the EYA challenge.
Find out more about the EYA at www.eya.com.sg