2013 Awards Ceremony

Teo-Ser-LuckGuest of Honour
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

Distinguished Guests

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.