SOE Awards 2019 – Welcome Address by SOE President, Ms Rachel Wong

Good evening to our Guest-of-Honour, Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry; New Zealand High Commissioner to Singapore, Her Excellency, Ms He Jo Tyndall, SOE Honorary Presidents; Board of Governors; Honourees; Partners; Sponsors; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the SOE Awards and Gala Dinner 2019! Thank you for joining us as we honour and inspire the spirit of entrepreneurship in Singapore.

The journey of entrepreneurship is powered by one constant: Change. And the biggest change facing businesses today is technology. While embracing technology might be challenging, many have proven that the rewards are worth the bold leap required. 

Committing one’s business to adopting technology takes patience, a clear vision, and the willingness to weather inevitable risks. Knowing this, I am heartened to see that many of our leading entrepreneurs have embraced this change wholeheartedly, expanding their businesses in the process — from one store to many, and from one city to an entire region. 

One such entrepreneur is Richard Eu, who has made his Eu Yan Sang brand one of the biggest names in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Although his business was rooted in traditional heritage, his enthusiasm towards technology has supported his vision and the continued growth of his brand. Tonight, we are proud to honour him as the SOE-Nexia TS Entrepreneurship Awardee 2019. This award is presented annually to a past SOE Honouree who has taken his or her enterprise to a whole new level. 

Facing the daily challenges of business requires a special kind of entrepreneurial fire. At SOE, we believe this attitude is best developed from a young age. For this reason, our Student Entrepreneur Programme (SEP) focusses on primary and secondary school students, at-risk youths and youths with disabilities, teaching them the basics of entrepreneurship, involving them in team-building activities and giving them a chance to apply this knowledge to real-life business activities.  At the same time, they are able to learn from the experience of our honourees, who share their stories with the students firsthand. 

This meaningful interaction across generations is also found in the SOE Student Interviewer Programme (SIP), where tertiary students receive rare opportunities to interview the entrepreneurs they admire. For this, SOE has formed strategic partnerships with educational institutions like Temasek Polytechnic, who encourage their students to be part of this annual programme.

SIP is key to the SOE Awards programme as the transcripts of interviews along with other information about the entrepreneurs and their business, are submitted to the SOE Board of Governors for selection. The most inspiring entrepreneurs are named SOE Honourees of the Year. This year, in our 17th edition, we have 42 honourees in the ‘Established Entrepreneurs’ category, the highest to date. This is testament not just to the overwhelming number of nominations but also the extraordinary quality of nominations this year.   

One of these honourees will be the inaugural winner of a new award, which recognises that entrepreneurship goes beyond the bottom-line, and is also about using one’s resources for the welfare of the community. This year, in partnership with Mr. Samuel Yik of Y.E.S F&B Group (Dian Xiao Er), SOE is proud to introduce the SOE-Dian Xiao Er Social Contributions Award. On top of this, as always, one outstanding individual will be conferred the SOE-Propnex Top Honouree of the Year Award. To the honourees, congratulations. Let’s give our honourees a big round of applause.  

At SOE, we also highlight promising start-ups through the SOE-NEO Start-up Awards, which is poised to propel the winners into greater visibility. To this year’s 13 winners, we wish you the best of luck as you drive your business to greater heights. A round of applause to them! 

Nine students who have submitted the best transcripts will also be sharing their spotlight as the SOE-Charles & Keith Best Student Interviewer awardees. Let’s give them the heartiest applause!  

SOE’s efforts at promoting entrepreneurship doesn’t end there. To help our entrepreneurs conquer the changing landscape, SOE continues to host the SOE Forums & Networking sessions — a series of thought leadership events that bring together the most accomplished minds in the entrepreneurial scene to share their insights and perspective. 

Our annual publication, The SOE book, also chronicles the entrepreneurial journeys of our inspiring honourees. The book is distributed to various schools in Singapore to inspire the next generation to start dreaming about their future enterprises. Today, we present each of you with a copy of this book.

All of these initiatives are our way of paying tribute to the aspiration of our late founder, Mr Russell Miller. Today, we continue to keep his mission alive. Yet, these efforts would not be realised without the passion and commitment of our Board of Governors, who have kindly volunteered their time and resources to promote entrepreneurship in Singapore. My Board of Governors, wherever you are, please stand up. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s give them a round of applause. 

SOE is a non-profit IPC charity organisation. The sustainability of our programmes truly depends on our partners, sponsors, donors and patrons. On behalf of the Board of Governors, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to these generous individuals. I would request them to stand up when I call upon their names. 

A round of applause, please, for our corporate partners:

Main Partner (Nexia TS Public Accounting Corporation)

Education Partner (Charles & Keith (Singapore) Pte Ltd)
Strategic Partner (PropNex Realty Pte Ltd)

Growth Partner (Neo Group Limited)

Corporate Social Responsibility Partner (Dian Xiao Er)

Spirit of Enterprise Partner (Tote Board)

And our official partners:

Eatz Group Pte Ltd

Evorich Holdings Pte Ltd

GATES PCM Construction Pte Ltd

Goh Joo Hin Pte Ltd

Marunda Utama Engineering Pte Ltd

Marvele Group Pte Ltd

PestBusters Pte Ltd

PINC Pte Ltd


Richz Holdings Pte Ltd

SureClean Pte Ltd

And our supporting partners:

Supporting Organisation (Enterprise Singapore)

Official Media (The Peak)

Institution Partner (Temasek Polytechnic)

Legal Advisor (Wee Swee Teow LLP)

Creative Partners (Marvele Group Pte Ltd, Miss Earth Singapore, SiliconPlus Communications Pte Ltd)

And our SOE Sponsor:

Wines and Whisky Sponsor (Asher)

I would also like to thank the Immediate Past President, Mr Sa’at Ismail, for the leadership he has exemplified. I will continue to rely on his generous support and guidance as the current President of SOE. 

And now, it is my greatest pleasure to invite onstage our Guest-of-Honour, Mr Chee Hong Tat, to say a few words. Thank you.