Guest of Honour
MR TEO SER LUCK
Minister of State
Ministry of Trade and Industry
Date: 01 November 2013, Friday
Venue: Mandarin Orchard Hotel, Mandarin Ballroom
President of Spirit of Enterprise, Mr Thomas Fernandez
Board of Governors
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my pleasure to join you for the Spirit of Enterprise (SOE) Awards dinner 2013. This evening, we celebrate the achievements of 33 outstanding entrepreneurs from 30 organizations, whose passion and perseverance has led to noteworthy successes for their businesses.
Importance of Entrepreneurship in Singapore
Singapore’s economy is undergoing a transformation. Our domestic constraints of land and manpower have become sharper. Our companies need to move up the value chain, and compete on value, not on costs. Their growth needs to be productivity driven. At the same time, our small domestic market means that our companies need to explore internationalisation and overseas markets relatively early in their development. Our companies must therefore continuously upgrade and move up the value chain to stay ahead and be globally competitive.
As we undergo this transformation, entrepreneurs like you play a crucial role. Start-ups bring in new ideas and perspectives, and are important engines of economic renewal and adaptability. This is especially relevant in today’s uncertain economic climate, where innovation, adaptability and agility will be keys to success in the global economy.
Recognising Young Entrepreneurs
All the awardees here today have chalked up remarkable achievements on your entrepreneurial journeys. Reaching out to young people is a particular focus for SOE, and I would like to specially commend the young entrepreneurs amongst you like the founders of Gaming How and Play Nation.
Gaming How specialises in providing video games for corporate and social events. Mr Lee Ming Wei of Gaming How had initially tried other business ideas such as an employment agency and a game rental service that did not do so well. But he did not give up, and today, Gaming How counts Temasek Holdings, St Regis, and the People’s Association among its clients. Play Nation is a gaming café that provides a cosy environment for the young at heart to socialise. They also organise corporate events. Ms Wong Kai Jun and her partners at Play Nation had corporate jobs in auditing and market research prior to taking the plunge into entrepreneurship. Making the choice to pursue their passion has paid off, and today Play Nation has two locations at *Scape and Prinsep Street. We need more young entrepreneurs like them to take entrepreneurship in Singapore to the next level.
Creating an Environment that Promotes Entrepreneurship
The entrepreneurship environment has improved greatly over the years. Availability of private capital for start-ups, from angel investors and venture capital firms has grown. In addition, government has put in place several schemes aimed at helping start-ups. These include funding for first-time start-ups and proof-of-concept, as well as incubators and mentorship networks. These are all part of a supportive environment for new entrepreneurs.
All of these have contributed to growth in the start-up scene. In 2005, we had 24,000 active start-ups employing 167,000 people. At the end of 2012, this had grown to 39,000 active start-ups employing about 300,000 people. Having said that, we still have a long way to go. The Entrepreneurship Review Committee, which I am chairing, is reviewing the entrepreneurship landscape to see what more can be done. Recommendations should be ready by early next year.
The efforts of private organisations like SOE will continue to be important. For instance, the Student Entrepreneur Programme offered by SOE aims to help students understand the fundamentals of starting an enterprise, and provides them with practical operational and financial management skills, hands -on experience, and networking sessions with local entrepreneurs and professionals. In doing so, the programme cultivates passion, resilience, innovativeness and leadership among our younger generation. This year alone, more than 200 youths have benefitted from the programme. I understand that SOE is also planning to award scholarships for polytechnic students pursuing courses in entrepreneurship.
SOE also plays an important role in profiling successful entrepreneurs through efforts such as your annual publication that relates the stories of your SOE Awardees, and the Student Interviewers Programme where students interview and document the stories of our successful local entrepreneurs. These stories serve as an inspiration for others to set foot on the journey of entrepreneurship.
In conclusion, let me acknowledge the efforts of the volunteers from SOE who have worked tirelessly to put this event together. Once again, my heartfelt congratulations to this year’s winners of the Spirit of Enterprise Award. Your success stories are a beacon for all budding entrepreneurs.
I wish everyone a pleasant evening ahead. Thank you.