World Entrepreneur Of The Year

Past winners

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Previous winners have come from India, Germany, Italy, the Philippines, the United States, South Africa, Canada, Switzerland, China, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Kenya.

EY - Mohed Altrad Mohed Altrad

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014 France
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2015


Born as a nomadic Bedouin in Syria and forbidden from attending school, Mohed Altrad learned to read on his own. Eventually, he received a scholarship to study in France and went on to buy a nearly bankrupt business in 1985 that became the basis of Altrad.

Altrad is the world leader in cement mixers and a European leader in scaffolding and wheelbarrows. Last year, the construction equipment company generated US$959m in sales and is on target to reach US$1.13b in revenues before 2016.

Mohed places the individual at the center of his company and advocates multiculturalism and respect for diversity. He sleeps very little, so by night he writes books. His partly autobiographical novel, Badawi, is now taught in some French schools as part of the literature curriculum.

EY - Uday Kotek Uday Kotak
Kotak Mahindra Bank

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 India
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014


As a young 26-year-old entrepreneur in 1985, Uday started what would become Kotak Mahindra Finance Ltd. At that time, private Indian banks were not even a speck on the horizon, but in 2003, Kotak Mahindra Finance became the first non-banking financial company in India’s corporate history to be converted into a bank.

Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. is now regarded as one of the most efficient and high-performing banks in India, built on the principles of simplicity and prudence. And today, Kotak Mahindra Group has a global presence with revenue of US$2.8b and more than 30,000 employees. The core of its business model is “concentrated India, diversified financial services.”

Uday has a strong focus on community development and inclusive growth. He feels strongly that education is key to helping India’s underprivileged. He established the Kotak Education Foundation to focus on the educational needs of underprivileged children.

EY - Hamdi Ulukaya

Hamdi Ulukaya
Chobani, Inc
United States

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 US
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

When it comes to making yogurt, Turkish-born entrepreneur Hamdi Ulukaya has the magic touch. Chobani Greek Yogurt, which he launched in 2007, is already the best-selling brand of yogurt in the US. Hamdi bought a closed-down yogurt factory and founded his company Chobani. In 2009, Hamdi signed a major deal with leading US grocery wholesaler Costco, and today Chobani’s annual sales are approaching US$1b. It has a workforce of more than 2,200 people and sells its products in US, Australia and the UK. Chobani’s newest US manufacturing facility is the largest yogurt factory in the world. As an immigrant, Hamdi believes in embracing change and improving communities, so 10% of Chobani’s profits are donated to the company’s charitable foundation, Shepherd’s Gift Foundation. The company is an official sponsor of the US Olympic team, and its corporate philosophy is “Nothing but good.”
James Mwangi

James Mwangi
CEO and Managing Director of
Kenya's Equity Bank Limited

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2010 Kenya
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012

Equity Bank is the largest bank by customer base in East and Central Africa and the largest African majority owned company in the region. The bank has more than seven million accounts representing over half of all bank accounts in Kenya. "I'm honored to accept this award on behalf of the people and customers of Equity Bank,” said James. “This is a global recognition for Africans who are embracing the power of entrepreneurship to change the economic and social state of Africa."
Olivia Lum

Olivia Lum
Executive Chairman and Group CEO
Hyflux Limited

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2010 Singapore
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011

Olivia Lum founded Hyflux in 1989 with two staff and start-up capital of US$15,000. Today, Hyflux has become one of the world's leading desalination suppliers. It is publicly traded with revenues of US$450 million, employing more than 2,300 people in operations and projects in Southeast Asia, China, India, the Middle East and North Africa. Olivia is the first female EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year winner and serves as a role model for entrepreneurs and for women across Asia and the world. "I'm very happy to accept this award on behalf of all the employees at Hyflux. For me, this reinforces there are no difficulties you can't overcome when you have faced the challenges of hunger and poverty."


Michael Spencer

Michael Spencer
Group CEO
ICAP plc

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2009 United Kingdom
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2010

Michael Spencer set up ICAP as an interest rate swap broker in 1986 with three friends. Today ICAP is a publicly traded company with more than 4,500 employees servicing customers in 50 countries and is considered one of the most innovative companies in financial services.

Michael’s entrepreneurship has enabled ICAP to diversify into many different areas, including the expansion into electronic broking and post-trade services over the past 10 years.

The recent global financial crisis has led to public debate and international initiatives aimed at strengthening financial regulation, supervision and market infrastructure. ICAP’s post-trade services play an important role in helping customers achieve these objectives. The company has a tradition of giving back as well. Since 1993, ICAP has held its ICAP Charity Day, a special all-day event held every December where the firm donates its total revenue for the day to a wide selection of charities.


Cao Dewang photo

Cho Tak Wong
Fuyao Glass Industry Group

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2008 China
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2009

Cho Tak Wong emerged from humble beginnings to become one of China’s most successful entrepreneurs. He started his own business at the age of 16, peddling cut tobacco. He also worked as a farmer, chef and fruit seller. Cho founded Fuyao Group in 1987 to specialize in the production of automotive safety glass and industrial technological glass. In 1993, it was the first company in its sector in China to be listed in the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The group has more than 10,000 employees and has glass production facilities in Fuqing, Changchun, Chongqing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing and modern float-glass production bases in Fujian, Jilin, Inner Mongolia and Hainan. It has established a complete sales network across the country, and it also has business offices in the United States, Japan, Korea, Australia, Russia and Germany.


Jean-Paul Clozel

Dr Jean-Paul Clozel
Actelion Pharmaceuticals Ltd

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2007 Switzerland
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2008

Founded in 1997, Actelion is a leader in the development of small-molecule drugs for the treatment of pulmonary disease, and its products have improved the lives of patients worldwide. Jean-Paul Clozel is a cardiologist educated in France, with further training in pharmacology and physiology at the University of Montreal, Canada, and the University of California, San Francisco. He has developed various, novel experimental models allowing the differentiation of these drugs, work honored with the 1997 Hoffmann-La Roche Research Prize. At the end of 1997, he founded biotechnology company Actelion, together with his wife, Martine, and work colleagues and friends Walter Fischli and Thomas Widmann. Although first focusing on research and development, he became CEO of the company to bring Actelion to the public in April 2000. During his 25-year career in cardiology, he has published widely in peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals. At the same time, his passion has remained unchanged: being involved as closely as possible in bringing innovative medicine to “his” patients.


Photo: Guy Laliberte Guy Laliberté 
Founder and CEO
Cirque du Soleil

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2006 Canada
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2007

In 1984, during the the 450th anniversary of the discovery of Canada, the Quebec government was celebrating by looking for a show that would tour across the province. Guy Laliberté, an itinerant and highly entrepreneurial fire-eater, accordionist and stilt-walker, presented the civil servants with a proposal for a show called Cirque du Soleil (Cirque) — and to their credit, they recognized its potential for short-term success and long-term growth. Cirque du Soleil’s touring shows have made more than 250 stops in more than 100 cities around the world. Cirque also has permanent shows in purpose-built theatres in Florida and Las Vegas. Production is well under way for permanent shows at Disney Tokyo and in Macau. The company has revenues of more than US$600 million and has enjoyed double-digit growth for more than five years. Every facet of Cirque is overseen and guided by Guy, and his vision goes far beyond creating entertainment. The company’s social action programs have given more than US$47 million to benefit youth at risk in more than 56 countries, and the organization is actively committed to the One Drop movement, which is dedicated to providing clean water to the world.


Photo: Bill Lynch Bill Lynch 
Imperial Holdings

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2005 South Africa
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2006

Arriving in South Africa in 1971 with just UK£2,000 and no job, Bill Lynch found work with Imperial Holdings as an 'admin controller'. Applying the disciplines he learned growing up in poverty in rural Ireland to the loss-making car dealership, he led a turnaround. After buying a 10% share in Imperial, Bill led a diversification and growth strategy into truck and car rental, logistics and leasing. He became executive chairman in 1990 and guided the company through South Africa's democratic transition era, when the country's economic and political systems were widely expected to collapse. Today, Imperial Holdings employs 36,000 people on three continents and has an annual revenue of €6.5 billion across 7 divisions.


Photo: Wayne Huizenga Wayne Huizenga 
Huizenga Holdings Inc.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2004 US
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2005

Wayne Huizenga is the only person in corporate history to be responsible for six companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange and to have founded three Fortune 500 companies. He demonstrates that where innovation and leadership converge, it can be the spark for achievement in the global marketplace.

Throughout his professional life, Wayne has lived his motto: “Surround yourself with great people, listen to them, make the best decisions you can and work hard.” Wayne created the waste management leaders, Waste Management, Inc. and Republic Industries, as well as Blockbuster Entertainment, the global leader in video entertainment, and AutoNation, the US’s first and world’s largest public automotive dealership. He is currently the owner of the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League.


Photo: Tony Tan Tony Tan Caktiong 
Chairman and President
Jollibee Foods Corporation

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2003 Philippines
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2004

Tony Tan Caktiong, President of Jollibee Foods Corporation, won the title of World Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2004. Jollibee was founded in 1975 as a two-branch ice cream parlor, which later expanded its menu to include hot sandwiches and other meals. The size, geographic expanse and breadth of the company's operations have grown exponentially — from a handful of Jollibee stores 26 years ago to 1,185 stores in 9 countries at the end of 2004. The prestigious Far Eastern Economic Review has cited Jollibee as The Most Admired Company in the Philippines for the past six years.


Photo: Narayana Murthy

Narayana Murthy
Founder and Chairman
Infosys Technologies Limited

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2002 India
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2003

Infosys, founded in 1981, was the first Indian company registered on the Nasdaq. The company regularly posts growth of 30% per year and has zero debt, and its revenues have grown at a compounded annual rate of more than 60% over the last decade. Infosys has introduced new services such as IT consulting, package implementation systems integration and business process outsourcing. Narayana believes that Infosys’ growth depends on the ability to attract the best and the brightest people from around the world. The company’s mission is to be a globally respected corporation that provides the best solutions that leverage technology delivered by best-in-class people. This mission also hinges strongly on a value system that emphasizes strong ethical standards and trust.


Photo: Stefan Vilsmeier Stefan Vilsmeier
President and CEO

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2001 Germany
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2002

At 19, after successfully authoring a book on computer graphics, Stefan Vilsmeier developed an interest in neurosurgical applications. Driven by his vision and funded by the proceeds of his book, he developed the world’s first menu-driven software for neurosurgical planning. His radiosurgery products have set a new standard for non-invasive, cost-efficient tumor treatment for doctors and their patients. The company now employs more than 480 people in 15 countries and has become one of the two world leaders in this area of advanced medical technology. Stefan’s primary motivation is leaving a legacy of improved medical care in as many fields as possible, such as cancer, brain surgery, ENT surgery and surgery for the knee, hip and spine.


Photo: Paolo della Porta Paolo della Porta
President, Chairman and Group CEO
Saes Getters S.p.A.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2000 Italy
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2001

For more than four decades, Saes Getters has been the world leader in getter technology used to create and maintain vacuum and purified gas environments. In 1945, Paolo della Porta joined Saes Getters, the small company in which his family had a stake. The driving force behind his company since 1949, Paolo emphasizes that his company’s success results from a constant dedication to research. The company’s products are credited with extending — 100-fold — the lives of television screens and computer monitors. Today, Saes Getters has grown from a family-owned business into a multinational company listed on the Milan Stock Exchange and Nasdaq with branches in the UK, US, Japan, France, Germany, Korea and China.