Every year, Ernst & Young (EY) recognises a lineup of entrepreneurs in its EY Entrepreneur Of The Year (EOY) awards programme. This is something that happens worldwide, and in Malaysia specifically, it has been an annual event for over two decades.
The Malaysian edition of this prestigious award has seen winners such as Top Glove Corporation’s YBhg Tan Sri Dr Lim Wee-Chai, AirAsia’s YBhg Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Kamarul A Muhamed of Aerodyne Group, and many more notable entrepreneurs.
The EOY awards has four categories, namely Emerging Entrepreneur, Technology Entrepreneur, Woman Entrepreneur, and Master Entrepreneur.
Here are the entrepreneurs who were celebrated by the Malaysian EOY awards this year.
Emerging Entrepreneur Of The Year: Ian Chua and Venon Tian of ZUS Coffee
With COO Venon Tian having just been named SEBA’s Entrepreneur of the Year, ZUS Coffee continues its winning streak with founders Venon and Ian Chua (CEO) earning the joint title EY Emerging Entrepreneur Of The Year 2023.
More than just serving coffee, ZUS Coffee touts itself as a tech-driven chain, utilising modern technology to set its products apart.
The Malaysian coffee chain is also known for its widespread accessibility, having grown more than 320 outlets in just four short years. And it seems like it’s only up from here for the team.
ZUS Coffee is expanding its operations to the Phillipines and a little birdie told us that it may just be looking for master franchisers in other countries in the region.
Aside from the duo, other top nominees in this category include:
- Ker Chin Keong, the founder and CEO of E Health, a research-based company producing health products under Excelife.
- William Tan Wei Lun, the managing director and CEO of ITMAX System, which is working to enhance quality of life through smart city solutions.
- Ezra Tan Koon Hock, the CEO of Kairos Harvest, an agritech company with a smart, integrated vanilla farm in Penang.
Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year: Giva Kuppusamy of GK Aqua
Founded by Giva Kuppusamy in 2016, GK Aqua is an aquaculture-focused startup that is working to achieve a green circular economy through biotechnology.
With their technology, the team helps freshwater prawn farmers achieve three times higher yields. Beyond just upping production, Giva has also helped create over 30 jobs for the disadvantaged through its Malaysian Udang Galah Aquapreneur (MUGA) programme.
With a flagship 1,000-acre project in Pahang, GK Aqua has been recognised by platforms such as Cradle and SME Corp as a promising biotech startup, EY stated.
The top nominees in this category include:
- Dr Raymond Choy, the CEO DOC2US. The telemedicine and e-pharmacy platform connects healthcare professionals with patients to improve Malaysians’ wellbeing and health.
- Tommy Lim, the managing director of ICT Zone Asia, which is a technology and financing platform that provides technology service solutions to manage the life cycles of IT devices.
Woman Entrepreneur Of The Year: Lee Hui Jing of BilaBila Mart
Launched just days before the pandemic lockdowns, BilaBila Mart is a Malaysian convenience store chain with a tale of resilience and growth. Today, it has 48 outlets and counting, according to its Instagram page.
Its founder, Lee Hui Jing, is celebrated by EOY for her entrepreneurship that also serves to support other aspiring entrepreneurs.
Not just your usual convenience store, BilaBila Mart is dedicated to retailing local brands without a presence in the usual brick-and-mortar chain stores at zero cost, serving as a platform for other local SMEs.
The top nominees of this category are:
- Dr Tan Hui Ling, the managing director of Bagan Specialist Centre, which was the first private hospital on mainland Penang back when it was established in 1988. Today, it’s become a one-stop multidisciplinary, comprehensive tertiary hospital.
- Sandy Tan Sing Yee, the CEO of Optimax Holdings, an eye healthcare and solutions company that leverages advanced technology to provide eye healthcare services.
Master Entrepreneur Of The Year: Dato’ Foong Wei Kuong of JF Technology
Finally, the honour of being EY Malaysia’s Master Entrepreneur Of The Year 2023 goes to Dato’ Foong Wei Kuong, the founder and managing director of JF Technology.
A part of Malaysia’s flourishing semiconductors industry, JF Technology is a provider of high-performance test interface solutions for global integrated circuit (IC) makers.
According to EY, the entrepreneur started this business in his own kitchen as a manufacturer and trader of electronic components.
In time, he transformed that business into one of the top test contacting solutions providers in not just Malaysia but the world, serving over 100 multinational corporations globally.
The company has filed 85 patents worldwide and currently owns 38 patents.
More than its work in the field, JF Technology also works with local universities to offer industry-relevant subjects to nurture young talents, elevating Malaysia’s position in the semiconductor value chain.
Other shortlisted nominees in this category certainly deserve recognition too. There’s Vinesh Sinha, the managing director of FatHopes Energy. The company uses biofuels to reduce carbon emissions, aggregating used cooking oil in a logistically economical way for biofuel producers.
There’s also Ong Hang Ping, the CEO and executive director of Sunview Group, a company offering holistic renewable energy. Taking over the business in 2015, this entrepreneur expanded the company’s reach to help more people play a part in creating a sustainable energy ecosystem.
We congratulate all the winners as well as the nominees of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Malaysia 2023.
Of course, this only marks the beginning of a new chapter for these entrepreneurs, whom we will keep an eye on to see what further innovations they may bring to the Malaysian entrepreneurial landscape.
- Learn more about EY Entrepreneur Of The Year here.
- Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Ernst & Young