It’s that time of the year again when the SME and Entrepreneurship Business Awards (SEBA) is held to elevate and celebrate the crème de la crème of SMEs and entrepreneurs that Malaysia has to offer.
SEBA is an initiative by Yayasan Usahawan Malaysia (YUM), an NGO formed to connect local private-sector SMEs and entrepreneurs to the public sector, and eventually, the larger regional sector.
Now in its seventh edition, the theme of SEBA 2022 recognises those who have risen above the pandemic and its many challenges.
Awarding inspiring businesses and entrepreneurs based on merit, SEBA also worked with Maxis Awards this year, which is an RM5 million commitment to the development and promotion of 12 Malaysian projects over 12 months.
Under the Maxis Awards, there were eight notable entrepreneurs awarded, with a further 12 entrepreneurs spotlighted by SEBA across various industries.
Here are all 20 of them and some achievements that helped put them on the list.
1. Entrepreneur of The Year – YBhg Datuk (Dr) Vinod Sekhar of PETRA Group
Datuk (Dr) Vinod Sekhar is the Chairman and Group CEO for PETRA Group, a diverse conglomerate involved in various industries that include sustainable technologies, food agriculture, research and philanthropy, and more.
Through Green Rubber, he’s transforming the global rubber industry by recycling one of the world’s environmental hazards, waste rubber tyres. Most recently, he founded online news publication, The Vibes, in 2020.
At just 26, he was given the title of Dato’ by the then-Yang di Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Ja’afar. In 2009, he was named as Malaysia’s 28th richest person by Forbes.
2. Entrepreneur of The Year – Ian Ong of Uncle Don’s Sdn Bhd
You’ve likely dined at one of his restaurants with family and friends before. He founded the eatery in 2015, opening Uncle Don’s’ first outlet in SS2, Petaling Jaya.
In the span of seven years, they grew to 44 outlets. In that time, the company has also gone on to win many The BrandLaureate awards.
3. Entrepreneur of The Year – YBhg Tan Sri Dato’ Prof. Joseph Adaikalam
Founder cum Executive Chairman of Binary University of Management & Entrepreneurship, Tan Sri Dato’ Prof. Joseph Adaikalam is also a philanthropist and social entrepreneur.
Established in 1984, Binary University has been offering scholarships internationally to disadvantaged youths through the Binary Global Scholarship Fund since 1994.
4. Celebrity Entrepreneur of The Year – YBhg Dato AC Mizal bin Dato Zaini
Dato AC Mizal is well-known in Malaysia’s entertainment industry, having been an actor, singer, comedian, TV host, and former radio presenter.
Under DNF Group Sdn Bhd, he founded Suke TV, a media and entertainment network that also seeks to uplift local entrepreneurs and brands.
5. Entrepreneur of The Year: F&B Industry – Leslie Gomez
Hailing from India, Leslie soon made a name for himself in Malaysia’s hospitality industry after he founded The Olive Tree Group.
Leveraging his prior experience, he first established his own restaurant, Ghazal Mahel, which today is known as Sutraa Kitchen + Bar and still stands over a decade later in Changkat, Bukit Bintang. Since then, he’s gone on to launch a total of 12 brands under the group.
6. Entrepreneur of The Year: Energy Saving Solution Provider – YBhg Dato’ Mohd Subri bin Md Isa
Dato’ Mohd Subri kicked off his entrepreneurial journey with his wife, Datin Noraini binti Bharom, in 1999, establishing Shauqi Excellent Sdn Bhd.
Its core business activities include renovation, mechanical, electrical, energy saving, fibre reinforced pultrusion (FRP), design, services, supplies, and trade.
7. Celebrity Entrepreneur Couple of The Year – Wawa Zainal & Aeril Zafrel
The star couple behind Respected Citizen Sdn Bhd, Wawa Zainal and her husband, Aeril Zafrel are big names in the local entertainment industry.
8. Inspiring Entrepreneur in Photography & Art – Suchen S.K.
Branding himself a “photocrafter”, Suchen of Digitalized Images Sdn Bhd has captured visual memories across more than 40 countries to date.
His work has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Reader’s Digest, FHM, and more.
9. Leading Male Entrepreneur: Islamic Investment – YBhg Dato’ Dr. Muhamad Iqbal bin Mohamad
Dato’ Dr. Muhamad Iqbal is the Managing Director of Qew Group Berhad, an investment holding company that’s involved in corporate consultancy and development activities for subsidiary companies.
It actively opens up opportunities for Islamic investors to put their money towards Shariah-compliant opportunities.
10. Inspiring Entrepreneur: Construction & Development – IR Edwin Fong Kim Wai
Edwin is the Managing Director of Alpha Land Development Sdn Bhd, one of East Malaysia’s established integrated building services companies with over two decades of experience within the engineering and construction industry.
He earned the Chartered Engineer (IR.) title in April 2022 and is both a Member of the Board of Engineering Malaysia (BEM) and an Incorporated Member of the Chartered Institute of Building (ICIOB, UK).
11. Inspiring Male Entrepreneur: Digital Transformation – Adj. Prof. Dr. Behrang Parhizkar
With years of experience in training in digital and IT-related subjects, Adj. Prof. Dr. Behrang Parhizkar is the CEO of Chamrun Interactive Sdn Bhd.
In his role, he leads a team that helps other businesses grow and increase their ROI.
12. Top Entrepreneur: M&E Industry – Shankar Selva Kumar
Shankar is involved with Sinar TM Sdn Bhd, a company established in 1990 specialising in the electrical and mechanical aspects of engineering works.
13. Top Entrepreneur: Finance Industry – Ybhg Dato’ Kuek Kien Joo, Andy
Dato’ Kuek Kien Joo is known for his roles in FinCorp, a global investment banking company, and Planworth Global Factoring Sdn Bhd, a Malaysian invoice factoring firm, namely as a Director and Member of Remuneration Committee in the former, and Chairman and CEO at the latter.
Planworth Global Factoring has since expanded to the Singaporean market to offer its core services.
14. Rising Female Entrepreneur: Digital Marketing Industry – Foo Yan Wen
The only female entrepreneur in this edition, Foo Yan Wen is the pillar behind Kaiu Concept & Construction Sdn Bhd. She is an experienced business director within the marketing and advertising industry.
At Kaiu Concept & Construction, a concept design and construction company, the co-founder also heads Strategy Business Development.
15. Inspiring Entrepreneur: Industrial Cleaning Service – Maheswaran Pillai A/L Rada Krishanan Pillai
Maheswaran plays a role in Glokal Environment Sdn Bhd, a cleaning services company based in Skudai, Johor, that was carrying out disinfection and sanitation services across factories, universities, and service apartments during the pandemic.
16. Top Entrepreneur: Islamic Education – Dr. Mohd Hairul Nizam bin Md Nasir
Dr. Mohd Hairul Nizam bin Md Nasir is the Chairman and CEO of Al-Amin Darul Musthofa Sdn Bhd, a company that runs an integrated primary Islamic school which has been in operation since 2016.
17. Leading Entrepreneur: Beauty & Selfcare – Hosni Mubarak
Hosni is the founder of Elarab, a brand that sells perfumes and fragrances that are made in Dubai. He’s made a name for himself as an entrepreneur on TikTok, doing skits and giving fragrance advice to his 1.7 million followers.
18. Top Entrepreneur: HR Consulting & Training – Dr. Devanand Subramanian
Dr. Devanand Subramanian has almost two decades of experience in HR as a practitioner, advisor, and trainer.
At Videv Consulting Sdn Bhd, his team provides HR consulting and support services, HR services on a retainer basis, and corporate training on HR services.
19. Top Entrepreneur: Human Capital Development – Jackson Ng
Jackson Ng is the founder of and lead trainer at Master Trainers Consulting and Coaching Sdn Bhd, which guides trainers in understanding the mechanics of designing, developing, delivering, and assessing participants’ competency in their training.
Since 2018, Jackson has trained over 700 HRDF-certified trainers.
20. Leading Entrepreneur: Beauty & Cosmetics – Ybhg Dato’ Sri Abdul Al-Halim bin Mohd Al Fadzil
Perhaps better known by the name Alha Alfa, Dato’ Sri Abdul Al-Halim is a makeup artist and the founder of Alha Alfa Rich Legacy Sdn Bhd.
Its popular brand is Alha Alfa Cosmetics, which carries cosmetics, makeup, and skincare. Prior to his entrepreneurial venture, Dato’ Sri Abdul Al-Halim grew in popularity as the makeup artist for Malaysian singer Amy Mastura.
Featured Image Credit: AC Mizal / Vinod / Alha Alfa