Retrenched Singaporeans Start Business
In this article

This year, the Covid-19 pandemic has wrecked havoc on the lives of individuals and the global economy as well.

In the first half of 2020, a total of 11,350 people faced retrenchment in Singapore. From Singapore Airlines to GoBear, large firms and even startups have laid off staff.

The crisis has however, presented opportunities as well. Between January and September, more than 40,000 new businesses were registered.

Thus, despite the economic perils, Singaporeans have found various opportunities and capitalised on new trends brought about by Covid-19.

For example, many home-based businesses have sprung up all over the island, and some have even transformed their humble businesses to physical stores.

Here are 5 Singaporeans who have found success in starting their own businesses despite getting retrenched from their previous jobs or losing their steady incomes.

1. Founder Of Muse & Motif

Muse & Motif Joscelin Kwek
Image Credit: PR Week

This January, the company that 38-year-old Joscelin Kwek was working for was dissolved, leaving herself and seven other team members out of job.

The setback prompted Joscelin to start her own communications agency, Muse & Motif, just a month later, and she hired her previous team members.

The dissolution of the company was a setback, but also an opportunity. I found the conviction to try something I never had the courage to attempt before, which is to start a business.

– Joscelin Kwek, Founder of Muse & Motif in an interview with The Straits Times

Despite having no experience at all in running a business, Joscelin decided to take the leap of faith. She does, however, has years of experience in the communications field.

As of August this year, the business is profitable with a seven-digit revenue.

2. Founder Of 1degreeC 

1degreeC coffee
Bee Yan and Richard / Image Credit: @shazbyshaz

Back in 2016, 58-year-old Richard Koh was working for Hewlett-Packard as a regional business manager. 

However, since the company was undergoing restructuring, he was soon to be retrenched from his job of 10 years.

“I was in a bad state (after I lost my job), but my wife kept telling me ‘Get off your ass and go do something!’ So my wife was the force behind me to go into this,” he told Vulcan Post in a separate interview.

That was when the idea to start his own business struck him, and together with his wife Ong Bee Yan, the duo started cold brew coffee startup 1degreeC.

The couple’s love for coffee was also a deciding factor in the business’ direction.

“We love to drink coffee, so we go to kopitiams to drink, and also cafés. But what’s unusual about the café scene here is that it’s always young people, so we’re the only older people who are always there,” said Richard.

Their children (both in their 30s) were also very encouraging of their café adventures, frequently recommending them new places to try.

1degreeC coffee
Image Credit: 1degreeC via Facebook

Their big break happened in 2017 during the Singapore Coffee Festival, which saw them receiving a lot of recognition from coffee lovers.

They now run the business out of a kitchen in MacPherson where Bee Yan does all the brewing, while Richard does the deliveries.

Sales has also picked up over the years, and the business is also stable enough for the couple to expand their vision from coffee to collaborations and charity work.

3. Founder Of Cannolicious

Image Credit: Cannolicious

Cannolicious is a home-based business which offers a DIY kit that lets customers pipe their own cannolis.

The founder is 46-year-old Adele Chia who had moved to Vietnam in 2019 to take up a job as the CEO of an education company there.

In May, she suddenly lost her job when the company’s owners decided to sell the business away, she recounted in an interview with TodayOnline.

She then decided to try her hand at making cannoli, and along with her husband Edmund Ng, 45, she started Cannolicious.

Each box contains ingredients to make 12 cannolis, and costs S$55, with a S$10 delivery fee.

According to the Cannolicious website, the cannoli DIY kit was created to “ensure that customers get to enjoy the cannoli as [we] did in Italy.”

4. Founder Of Auto Xthetics

Auto Xthetics
Image Credit: Auto Xthetics

Those in the aviation field were badly hit by the pandemic, and 39-year-old pilot Kenny Tay was one of them.

According to a report by The Straits Times, Kenny left his job at SilkAir in January to join a budget airline. However, a week before his induction, he was told that it could be delayed for a year due to the pandemic.

According to him, the airline said that its crew could “do anything” to supplement their income.

Kenny thus decided to start a mobile car-grooming business, Auto Xthetics.

His car-grooming packages start from S$338 for a standard package and the services range from car waxing to car detailing.

5. Founders Of Durian Lobang King

durian lobang king
Image Credit: Durian Lobang King

Even though 31-year-old Marcus Png and 32-year-old Q Lim did not get retrenched, the owners of an events company started to see their business suffer since January this year.

The duo then decided to start Durian Lobang King when they realised they needed to find a new revenue stream.

“Since we had contacts with a durian plantation in Malaysia from previous events we organised, we decided that we wanted to provide durians to consumers that lived up to their expectations,” said Marcus in an interview with AsiaOne.

The two business partners then spent about a month to figure out the logistics of the business, from looking for a location to importing durians.

Besides selling fresh durian, they have also expanded into pastries, such as durian mooncakes during the Mid Autumn Festival.

Always Be On The Lookout For New Beginnings

Losing one’s income is never easy.

This year, many Singaporeans faced the unfortunate situation of getting retrenched or losing a significant portion of their income.

However, many also decided to start their own businesses, or spent time upgrading their skills.

Furthermore, Singapore has long been lauded as a good place to start a business, with a myriad of schemes and grants to aid new business owners.

Thus, starting a business, even if its a home-based one, could be the first step in securing a new stream of income.

Featured Image Credit: PR Week / @shazbyshaz / Durian Lobang King / Auto Xthetics / Cannolicious

Also Read: Want To Be An Entrepreneur? Here’s Why 2021 Is A Better Year Than 2020 To Start A Biz

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay updated with Vulcan Post weekly curated news and updates.


Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)