Press release

22 Nov 2021 Singapore, SG

MiRXES’ Zhou Lihan, Zou Ruiyang and Isaac Ho named EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2021 Singapore

Dr. Zhou Lihan, Co-founder and CEO; Dr. Zou Ruiyang, Co-founder and CTO; and Mr. Isaac Ho, CIO of MiRXES have been named EY Entrepreneur Of The Year (EOY) 2021 Singapore by professional services organization, EY.

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SINGAPORE, 22 NOVEMBER 2021 – Dr. Zhou Lihan, Co-founder and CEO; Dr. Zou Ruiyang, Co-founder and CTO; and Mr. Isaac Ho, CIO of MiRXES have been named EY Entrepreneur Of The Year (EOY) 2021 Singapore by professional services organization, EY. This was announced during a business event this evening, where Ms. Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance and Second Minister for National Development, was the guest-of-honor.

Dr. Zhou Lihan, Dr. Zou Ruiyang, and Mr. Isaac Ho, who were also named EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Biotechnology, will be Singapore’s representative at the prestigious EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year (WEOY) to be held in June 2022. They will compete with contenders from over 60 other countries for the coveted world title. The EY WEOY competition is the hallmark of the awards program, offering a platform to profile local entrepreneurs among the world’s best business leaders.

(Please refer to fact sheet A for past WEOY winners) 

On winning the top honor, the winners say: 

“We are very honored to have won this award. The past 22 months have been an intense ride for MiRXES where we came together as one team and managed to leverage our expertise effectively to contribute COVID-19 tests to Singapore and globally. We are glad that the team’s agility and mindset of doing good has been recognized. Innovation is key to developing and expanding MiRXES’ business – we are continually solving clinical unmet needs in diseases.”

In addition to the top honor, EY presented five EOY category awards at the business event:

  • EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Digital Automotive Solutions 
    Mr. Aaron Tan, Founder and CEO, Carro

  • EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Financial Services 
    Mr. Alex Chua, CEO, Goldbell Financial Services

  • EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Collectibles and Lifestyle Products 
    Mr. Jackson Aw, Founder and CEO, Mighty Jaxx

  • EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Biotechnology 
    Dr. Zhou Lihan, Co-founder and CEO; Dr. Zou Ruiyang, Co-founder and CTO; and Mr. Isaac Ho, CIO; MiRXES

  • EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Digital Insurance Solutions 
    Mr. Walter de Oude, Founder and Deputy Chairman, Singlife

Please refer to fact sheet B for profiles of the winners and their companies.

An independent judging panel had selected the winners based on their merits in the six global judging criteria, namely entrepreneurial spirit, financial performance/value creation, strategic direction, national and global impact, innovation and personal integrity/purpose-driven leadership. 

Please refer to fact sheet C for members of the judging panel and details of the judging criteria. 

Chairperson of the judging panel, Mr. Wong Ngit Liong, also Executive Chairman of Venture Corporation Limited, comments on the winners: 

“MiRXES tells a powerful story of how the combination of science and entrepreneurship can significantly impact human lives as well as support socioeconomic goals. Having created the world’s first molecular blood test for early gastric cancer detection, Lihan, Ruiyang and Isaac found themselves in a unique position to tap on their existing technologies and pivot swiftly to develop and mass-produce COVID-19 test kits that were instrumental to Singapore’s fight against the pandemic. They have demonstrated a strong sense of purpose, innovation and agility at staying true to their corporate mission of saving lives, and have worked relentlessly to amplify the Singapore brand abroad.”   

Awards program celebrates its 20th anniversary in Singapore 

The EY EOY awards program was launched in Singapore in 2002 to honor entrepreneurs who have created and sustained successful business ventures, as well as to coincide with the government’s focus on fostering entrepreneurship and grooming local entrepreneurs. 

Now in its 20th year, the awards has evolved into a leading business award in Singapore and honored close to 100 entrepreneurs in Singapore for their exceptional achievements.

Commenting on the traits observed among the winning entrepreneurs over the two decades, Mr. Max Loh, Singapore and Brunei Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP says: 

“These winning entrepreneurs come from very diverse backgrounds and industries, and increasingly, we are seeing younger winners and businesses that are technologically driven or digital natives. Yet, they embody several common qualities that make them unstoppable – unwavering conviction, innovation and agility – which enable them to forge ahead and seize opportunities in adversity. 

“This spirit of being unstoppable is something we can all embrace in our lives, using it to shape how we tackle risks and welcome new perspectives that open our eyes to unseen opportunities in our own worlds or markets. For entrepreneurship to continue thriving in Singapore, we need to imbibe these qualities into future generations and create a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem that capitalizes on the upsides of digitalization, sustainability and globalization.” 

Please refer to fact sheet B for the quotes on winning the category awards and their thoughts on disruption and innovation.

Special honor for PT Sumber Alfaria Trijaya Tbk and Goldbell Group

EY presented the EY Asean Entrepreneurial Excellence award to Mr. Djoko Susanto, Founder of PT Sumber Alfaria Trijaya Tbk.

Mr. Loh says:  
“From humble beginnings in running a modest grocery stall to leading a large retail business chain, Mr. Susanto’s entrepreneurial journey and commercial success is remarkable and inspiring. With his astute business acumen and determination, Mr. Susanto has grown the company to more than 16,000 stores, which hires over 130,000 people across Indonesia and the Philippines. Beyond the socio-economic impact made in terms of job creation, the company also gives back to the community, for example, through providing support and relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mr. Susanto shares the motto that he lives by:  
“Confidence, focus and hard work are the keys to success in seizing opportunities.”

Please refer to fact sheet D for winner profile.  

EY also presented the EY Family Business Award of Excellence to Goldbell Group. The award recipient is jointly selected by knowledge partners, Business Families Institute @ Singapore Management University and the Wendel International Centre for Family Enterprise, INSEAD.

Mr. Loh says:

“Family enterprises are an important segment of our economy. The Goldbell Group builds upon its legacy of shared values and culture established by its founding generation to anchor its core business, and at the same time, innovate and grow into new areas of business led by the second and third generations. Clearly, the entrepreneurial spirit continues to thrive in the family, as they seek to chart a sustainable and long-term strategy for the business.”

On receiving the award, Mr. Arthur Chua, CEO of Goldbell Group says:

“The cornerstone of Goldbell’s success lies in our 40-year legacy of strong values and culture, enduring partnerships and relationships, and market relevance. Receiving this award as the company’s third generation is a great honor and recognizes our continued commitment to further growing the Goldbell brand through innovation and change.”

Please refer to fact sheet E for winner profile, eligibility and selection criteria. 

The official partners of the EOY awards are the Singapore Exchange (partner); Portfolio, The Business Times and The Edge Singapore (official media partners). The supporters are Action Community for Entrepreneurship; Enterprise Singapore; Singapore Business Federation; and SkillsFuture Singapore.

For more information about the EY EOY program, please visit


About EY 

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This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young Solutions LLP, a member of the global EY organization.

About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™  

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ is the world’s most prestigious business awards program for unstoppable entrepreneurs. These visionary leaders deliver innovation, growth and prosperity that transform our world. The program engages entrepreneurs with insights and experiences that foster growth. It connects them with their peers to strengthen entrepreneurship around the world. EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is the first and only truly global awards program of its kind. It celebrates entrepreneurs through regional and national awards programs in more than 145 cities in over 60 countries. Winners go on to compete for the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ title.

Fact sheet A: EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year past winners

Past WEOY winners

2001: Paolo della Porta, President, Chairman and Group CEO of Saes Getters S.p.A., Italy

2002: Stefan Vilsmeier, President and CEO of BrainLAB AG, Germany

2003: Narayana Murthy, Founder and Chairman of Infosys Technologies Limited, India

2004: Tony Tan Caktiong, Chairman and President of Jollibee Foods Corporation, Philippines

2005: Wayne Huizenga, President of Huizenga Holdings, Inc., US

2006: Bill Lynch, CEO of Imperial Holdings, South Africa

2007: Guy Laliberté, Founder and CEO of Cirque du Soleil, Canada

2008: Dr. Jean-Paul Clozel, Founder of Actelion Pharmaceuticals, Switzerland

2009: Cho Tak Wong, Chairman of Fuyao Glass Industry Group, Mainland China

2010: Michael Spencer, Group CEO of ICAP plc, UK

2011: Olivia Lum, Founder of Hyflux Ltd, Singapore

2012: James Mwangi, CEO and Managing Director of Equity Bank Limited, Kenya

2013: Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO of Chobani, Inc., US

2014: Uday Kotak, President and CEO of Kotak Mahindra Bank, India

2015: Mohed Altrad, Chairman of Altrad, France

2016: Manny Stul, Chairman and Co-CEO of Moose Enterprise Holdings & Controlled Entities, Australia

2017: Murad Al-Katib, President and CEO of AGT Food and Ingredients Inc., Canada

2018: Rubens Menin, Chairman of MRV Engenharia e Participações S.A., Brazil 

2019: Brad Keywell, CEO of Uptake Technologies Inc., US

2020: Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Executive Chairperson of Biocon Limited, India

2021: JungJin Seo, Honorary Chairman of Celltrion Group, South Korea

Fact sheet B: EY Entrepreneur Of The Year winner and company profiles

(Information provided by winners’ companies)

a)        EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2021 Singapore
          EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Biotechnology
            Dr. Zhou Lihan, Co-founder and CEO
            Dr. Zou Ruiyang, Co-founder and CTO
            Mr. Isaac Ho, CIO 

Quote on receiving the category award: 
“We are very honored to have won this award. The past 22 months have been an intense ride for MiRXES where we came together as one team and managed to leverage our expertise effectively to contribute COVID-19 tests to Singapore and globally. We are glad that the team’s agility and mindset of doing good has been recognized. Innovation is key to developing and expanding MiRXES’ business – we are continually solving clinical unmet needs in diseases.”

Quote on learnings gained from the pandemic

“It is important for a leader to lead by example. During the circuit breaker when the team was busy producing the Fortitude Kits, we were at the laboratory every day working hand-in-hand with the team, as well as personally handling the troubleshooting of any potential issues.    

We have seen how important national security was for Singapore, specifically when the COVID-19 situation started last year. If we were not able to produce the test kits ourselves, there would be a lot of waiting and unknowns. This showed us that building our manufacturing base was a right decision even though when we first started, we had many detractors and many wondered why we were venturing into so many areas. As an entrepreneur, aside from making sound financial decisions, it is also about taking a leap of faith, trusting your instincts, and looking at the big picture.”

About the winners

Dr. Zhou Lihan is the Co-founder and CEO of MiRXES. Dr. Zhou oversees MiRXES’s overall strategy and global operations, and has propelled the company into a leader in disease early detection. Prior to founding MiRXES, Dr. Zhou led a research team at the Bioprocessing Technology Institute, A*STAR to develop a novel microRNA (miRNA) qPCR assay platform for biomarker and therapeutic target discovery. In 2015, Dr. Zhou was recognized by MIT Technology Review as a member of “Innovators Under 35”. Dr. Zhou obtained his PhD, Biochemistry from Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. He has authored and co-authored more than 20 peer-reviewed publications and has several patent applications.

Dr. Zhou is 39 years old.

Dr. Zou Ruiyang is Co-founder and CTO of MiRXES. Dr. Zou is responsible for MiRXES’s technology and diagnostic test developments, and also oversees operations in China. Prior to founding MiRXES, he was the Head of Bioinformatics at the miRNA Signature Identification Center, A*STAR. He has a passion for science and is continuously innovating to discover technology that can be developed to practical applications that can be delivered to the public. Dr. Zou has a PhD in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Engineering from Singapore-MIT Alliance (NUS-MIT), Singapore. He also successfully completed his dual degree in 2007 where he attained Bachelor of Science, Molecular Science and Engineering, Nankai University, Tianjin, China, and Bachelor of Engineering, Molecular Science and Engineering, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China. Dr. Zou has co-authored more than 10 publications and has 8 patents and applications.

Dr. Zou is 35 years old.

Isaac Ho is CIO of MiRXES where he oversees corporate development and investor relations as well as builds strategic partnerships with key health care players and financial institutions. Prior to MiRXES, Isaac founded Singapore Health, and subsequently VentureCraft Group, a Singapore government accredited co-investment partner and incubator in the health care and biomedical sciences sector. He is a veteran in entrepreneurship, investment and business management. Under his leadership, Venturecraft Group was appointed as an accelerator under SPRING Singapore’s Sector Specific Accelerator Programme for Biomedical Sciences. Isaac graduated from Deakin University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce (Marketing and Management).

Mr. Ho is 45 years old.

About MiRXES

MiRXES is a Singapore-headquartered biotechnology company focused on improving and saving lives with RNA-powered cancer early detection tests.

MiRXES’ story began in early 2000 when the founders pioneered a highly sensitive, specific and robust detection technology for MicroRNA (miRNA), the smallest genetic material ever found in human and other living organisms. Realizing the potential of miRNA-based clinical applications in solving unmet needs in cancer, cardiovascular, metabolic and infectious diseases, MiRXES decided to bring its technology from laboratory to clinic. In 2014, MiRXES spun off from A*STAR to commercialize the technology, develop accurate multi-cancer early detection solutions and make them readily available and accessible.

MiRXES believes that the future of health care will shift from treating the sick to preventive health care. The company’s focus on science and innovation will continue as it commits to changing lives and delivering preventive health care solutions to all.


b)     EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Digital Automotive Solutions
        Mr. Aaron Tan
        Founder and CEO

Quote on receiving the category award

“I would like to thank every single one of our customers, Carro-ians and our shareholders - this would not have been possible without their hard work and dedication.

We are now close to 2,000 strong with operations in seven countries and growing very quickly. We hope to put Singapore on the global technology map by pushing for more advances in AI around computer vision and acoustic signal procession. 

We are seeking to professionalize this often-misunderstood trade - buying a car can be stress-free, pleasant and online.”

Quote on learnings gained from the pandemic

“The pandemic has reminded us that it is imperative to remain resilient and agile amid an ever-changing business landscape. We launched a series of new services including the region’s first fully online, contactless car purchasing process and the AI-powered insurance that calculates premiums based on the driver’s behavior and distance traveled.

Also, our revenues grew over 2.5 times year-on-year despite the pandemic. We hit over US$1b in annualized gross merchandise value run rate, with record volumes, revenues, gross profit and EBITDA (positive for two consecutive years). In March this year, we recorded a 70% month-on-month growth and we aim to continue hitting two to three times growth in the next few years.”

About Mr. Aaron Tan

Aaron Tan founded his first startup at 13 and sold two companies before turning 21. In 2005, Aaron was conferred the prestigious Singapore Computer Society IT Youth Year after representing Singapore in the biennial World Skills Competition when he won bronze. Aaron subsequently took a scholarship from the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

As a returning scholar, Aaron helped to start Singtel’s venture fund – Singtel Innov8 and spearheaded the setup of Blk71, Singapore’s largest startup ecosystem while leading investments at the firm. Aaron subsequently left the firm and co-founded Carro towards the end of 2015.

In 2021, the Financial Times named Carro the fastest-growing company in Asia-Pacific with revenues of over S$300m annually in 2021. Carro has raised over US$450m to date and was last valued at over US$1b by Softbank Vision Fund and several sovereign funds.

Aaron graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science from the School of Information Systems at Singapore Management University and Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science.

Mr. Tan is 36 years old.

About Carro

Carro is Southeast Asia’s largest online auto retailer. Carro is currently present in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. The Group transacts over 100,000 vehicles annually with more than 90% of its transactions happening outside of Singapore.

Headquartered in Singapore, Carro has over 1,600 employees in over 6 countries and is more than just another online automotive marketplace. Carro plays in the entire lifecycle of car ownership – ranging from lending, insurance, warranty to aftersales. Carro has transformed the experience of taking hours to buy a car to a ten-minute affair – entirely online, at the comfort of your own home.

By offering a trustworthy and transparent experience, Carro challenges the traditional way of buying and selling cars through a proprietary pricing algorithm and AI-enabled capabilities.

Founded in 2015, Carro transacts over US$1b annualized run-rate gross merchandise value. As of June 2021, the company has raised over US$450m in equity from SoftBank Vision Fund 2, EDBI, Mitsubishi Corporation, MS&AD Ventures, Insignia Ventures Partners and B Capital Group.


c)       EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Financial Services 
           Mr. Alex Chua
           Goldbell Financial Services

Quote on receiving the category award

“Receiving this award is an honor, and a testament to the commitment and dedication of everyone at GBFS in their continuous effort to support local SMEs and heartland enterprises that have been the building blocks of Singapore’s economic success.

We are committed to the continuous innovation and elevation of our capabilities, in our mission to help our clients achieve and maintain financial growth and sustainability, particularly during these difficult economic times.”

Quote on learnings gained from the pandemic

“This pandemic highlighted the importance of organizational agility and the need for an aligned team working together as one.

We were able to help SMEs that were having cash flow problems during the lockdown. My team worked above and beyond to implement a fully digital flow process for reviewing and disbursing loans in under two days.

It is also our modus operandi to treat the team and customers as a family, providing assurance and demonstrating to customers that we are here for the long haul.

Despite the unpredictable business situation, GBFS was able to ensure the job security of our employees.

Customers of GBFS received the same level of commitment. We granted deferment payments for up to 200 loan accounts even though GBFS was unable to secure the same support from the banks that we ourselves worked with.”

About Mr. Alex Chua

Alex Chua, CEO of Goldbell Financial Services (GBFS), is an inspiring entrepreneur on a mission to impact local SMEs positively.

With the vision to extend value and provide comprehensive service to clients, Alex built a suite of loan solutions and turned GBFS into one of Singapore's fastest-growing non-bank financial institutions for SMEs. Always looking to innovate, he has further strengthened the ecosystem by founding the Goldbell Evolution Network (GEN), a Monetary Authority of Singapore-regulated private debt investment platform, and Polaris, a launchpad for growth acceleration through co-creating financial solutions that generate additional revenue streams and economic sustainability.

Prior to GBFS, Alex spent the first half of his career as a banker at JP Morgan Hong Kong as the Head of Equity Derivatives Retail Structured Products Distribution Southeast Asia. He currently sits on the board for Food From The Heart and is part of the Youth Business Affairs Committee of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Mr. Chua is 41 years old.

About Goldbell Financial Services

Goldbell Financial Services (GBFS) is a subsidiary of Goldbell Group, Singapore's largest commercial vehicles and industrial equipment distribution and leasing company.

GBFS is a fast-growing non-bank financial institution established to finance the visions of SMEs through innovative capability-enhancing financing solutions and it has funded more than S$1b cumulatively (as at 31 Mar 2021). GBFS' ecosystem includes a Monetary Authority of Singapore-regulated private debt investment platform, Goldbell Evolution Network (GEN) and Polaris, which is a launchpad for growth acceleration through co-creating financial solutions that generate additional revenue streams and financial sustainability.

GBFS is one of the participating financial institutions in Enterprise Singapore.


d)    EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Collectibles and Lifestyle Products
       Mr. Jackson Aw 
       Founder and CEO
       Mighty Jaxx

Quote on receiving the category award

“I am very grateful to be recognized as a category winner, and it is a great affirmation to the team and the work they do here at Mighty Jaxx.

As we look to double our team of a hundred, their effort and innovation inspire and encourage each other to continue developing future culture for today’s digital natives.”

Quote on learnings gained from the pandemic

“In times like this, you have to be patient and that can be the key difference between success and failure.”

About Mr. Jackson Aw

Jackson is a serial entrepreneur who started his journey at 18, armed with a design background. He learned hard and fast in his first few failed ventures.

A collector since young, Jackson purchased a one-way ticket to China in 2012, determined to learn how collectibles were manufactured. He was inspired after a month in China and borrowed S$20,000 from his parents to start Mighty Jaxx. 2015 was a critical turning point. Acting on instinct, Jackson pitched and secured a global licensing deal with an entertainment giant, which helped the company to grow exponentially.

Mighty Jaxx is now an award-winning future culture company that ships millions of phygital products yearly to over 80 countries. Jackson now focuses his time on Mighty Jaxx’s future growth and recently closed a Series A round led by Chinese technology company, Tencent.

Mr. Aw is 32 years old.

About Mighty Jaxx

Founded in 2012, Mighty Jaxx is an award-winning future culture company that designs and manufactures tech-enabled collectibles and lifestyle products in partnership with the greatest talents in the world as well as global brands such as Hasbro, Sesame Street, Toei Animation, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers, DC Comics, Looney Tunes and more, shipping millions of collectibles to over 80 countries worldwide.

With a mission to supercharge future culture phygitally, Mighty Jaxx is building an integrated platform to empower future pop culture brands with end-to-end supply chain of collectibles, including artist development and incubation, proprietary IP operation and providing global consumers access to experiential retail. Mighty Jaxx is future culture.


e)   EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Digital Insurance Solutions
      Mr. Walter de Oude 
      Founder and Deputy Chairman

Quote on receiving the category award

“I am really proud to have built from nothing what many would have considered impossible – a world-class life insurance company, transforming our industry and giving people a better financial services experience. By aiming for the stars, we have grown Singapore Life into a business worth over S$2b, given a team of awesome people a great purpose, and improved the financial lives of many. And we have only just started on our global journey.”

Quote on learnings gained from the pandemic

“Through the pandemic, there was more time to reflect on what is important in life working from home. From my experience, spending more time as a family has afforded me the opportunity to focus on my personal and financial goals that the old rat-race could not offer.

As a business, we saw more people getting their financial affairs in order. We learned that we had to be even more customer-obsessed, more value-creating and faster-paced to meet this need. Championing digitization and ruthless efficiency allowed us to do in months what may have taken others to do in years. The need for technological leadership goes beyond just financial services to all aspects of life today.

As a leader, I learned the power of ruthless transparency and information-sharing, and to let everyone know what I was thinking, all the time. This has allowed everyone to remain aligned with the business strategy and be empowered to contribute as individuals to Singlife’s greater good.”

About Mr. Walter de Oude

Founder and Deputy Chairman, Walter de Oude, established Singlife in 2017 with the vision of creating a digital connected financial ecosystem that makes money work harder for a mobile-first generation of customers. Starting by reshaping how insurance is delivered digitally and efficiently, and following with the launch of the Singlife account, Singlife transformed how customers think about insurers for the better. Under Walter’s leadership, Singlife successfully acquired a 75% stake in Aviva Singapore in Singapore’s largest insurance deal to bring two complementary companies together to build a homegrown insurer serving over one million customers.

Walter previously led HSBC Insurance Singapore as CEO and has held senior roles across Asia in his career spanning over two decades in insurance and financial services.

For his entrepreneurship, innovation and passion, Walter was recognized by Business Insider in 2020, naming him as one of the “100 People Transforming Business”.

Mr. de Oude is 47 years old.

About Singlife

Singlife is a Singapore-based financial institution that aims to unlock the potential of money by making financial services more convenient, transparent and accessible. Licensed in 2017, Singlife has since been innovating its solutions to meet the needs of mobile-first customers and to provide a full suite of connected financial service offerings, reshaping Singapore’s financial services industry. Singlife launched Singapore’s first insurance-savings plan with an accompanying Visa debit card in 2020. That same year, Singlife announced its merger with Aviva Singapore in Singapore’s largest insurance deal with the combined business valued at S$3.2b. Singlife was awarded “Digital Life Insurance Initiative of the Year” by the Insurance Asia Awards in 2020 and continues to give its customers a seamless connected financial experience.


Fact sheet C: EY Entrepreneur Of The Year judging panel and criteria

Judging panel

Angelene Chan
DP Architects

Png Cheong Boon
Enterprise Singapore

Ashish Shastry
Partner, Co-Head of Private Equity Asia Pacific and Head of Southeast Asia
KKR Singapore Pte Ltd

Mark Lee
Sing Lun Holdings Pte Ltd
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Manufacturing (2015)
EY Family Business Award of Excellence 2018

Lam Yi Young
Singapore Business Federation

Prof. Annie Koh
Professor Emeritus of Finance (Practice); Senior Academic Advisor, Business Families Institute and International Trading Institute
Singapore Management University

Wong Ngit Liong (Chairperson of judging panel)
Executive Chairman 
Venture Corporation Limited
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2002 Singapore

Judging criteria

The following six judging criteria sets the global standard adhered to by each and every country participating in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year awards.

  • Entrepreneurial spirit 

The individual is a risk-taker who sets very high standards and demonstrates an unflinching desire and determination to succeed despite significant obstacles.

  • Financial performance/Value creation

The business has demonstrated strong financial performance and maintains a good track record in raising finance. Coupled with quality investments and its focus on the development of human capital, the business has the potential for long-term sustainability. 

  • Strategic direction

The individual not only creates and turns business visions into realities, but also builds strategic alliances and empowers talents to achieve common goals.

  • National and global impact

The business has displayed a high degree of potential for growth and expansion into international markets that has made national and global impact in terms of job creation and improved living economics.

  • Innovation

The individual has pioneered a new approach or technology, embraces changes and continuously innovates.

  • Personal integrity/Purpose-driven leadership

The individual earns great respect and is able to communicate ideas and influence the wider community. The individual’s enforcement of socially responsible practices seeks to improve the quality of life. The individual demonstrates a commitment to the highest ethical and quality standards in business activities and operations.

Factsheet D: EY Asean Entrepreneurial Excellence Award winner profile 

(Information provided by winners’ companies) 

EY Asean Entrepreneurial Excellence Award 

Mr. Djoko Susanto
PT Sumber Alfaria Trijaya Tbk

Quote on learnings gained from the pandemic

“Building team spirit, focusing on consumers’ needs and understanding the changes in behavior, and being agile to adapt to situations quickly and accurately, are the three most important things in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

About Mr. Djoko Susanto

Djoko Susanto’s unflinching determination, passion and strong entrepreneurial spirit have brought about his success and remarkable achievements. The values of humility and integrity are deeply ingrained in his daily life.

The establishment of Alfamart back in 1999 when Indonesia was undergoing challenging times demonstrated his risk-taking mindset and long-term vision on the potential of the minimarket business and how it enables Indonesians to purchase groceries easily and conveniently.

Djoko Susanto is recognized not only as the founder of Alfamart and a leader, but also as a motivator and source of inspiration. His strong business acumen and the trust he gives to the management to run and grow the business have made Alfamart what it is today.

Djoko’s informal leadership style is what the Alfamart management and its employees most appreciate and admire. His simple life prior to establishing Alfamart and his remarkable rise to success and fortune is a motivation and inspiration to others.

Mr. Susanto is 71 years old.

About PT Sumber Alfaria Trijaya Tbk

PT Sumber Alfaria Trijaya Tbk (SAT), Alfamart started its first store in Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia in 1999, and has now grown to be one of the largest and leading retailers of fast-moving consumer goods in Indonesia after its IPO in 2009. Currently, it has a market capitalization of around US$4b. Having more than 16,000 minimarket stores (including approximately 4,000 franchised stores) nationwide, supported by 500 suppliers and 32 distribution centers, SAT employs more than 130,000 people and serves over 4 million customers every day.

By integrating its offline and online business model through Alfagift Apps, offering ready-to-eat-and-drink food and beverage, and implementing a new concept of shopping with coworking space (Alfaexpress, Alfamart Drivetru, and AlfaX), SAT demonstrates agility in catering to changing consumer demand.

While SAT continues to pursue its business growth and expansion, it also contributes back to the community by implementing initiatives to support employee welfare such as providing masks, vitamins and hand sanitizers. SAT also waived rental fees in May-June 2020 and provided subsidies to SME tenants, distributed food packages, provided self-isolation facility equipped with medical equipment and a paramedic team, and donated oxygen concentrators to support the government’s efforts to tackle the pandemic.


Factsheet E: EY Family Business Award of Excellence 

Winner profile, eligibility and selection criteria

(Information provided by winners’ companies)

EY Family Business Award of Excellence

Goldbell Group

Quotes on receiving the award

Arthur Chua, Chief Executive Officer, Goldbell Group:

“Anticipating needs, surpassing expectations, forging valued relationships and driving forward as one – it is always more than just business for us.”

Alex Chua, Chief Executive Officer, Goldbell Financial Services:

“Goldbell is a family business, and we care for everyone in the company like a family. Our culture binds us together and has kept us resilient across good and bad times. It is genuinely remarkable to still be learning from 30-year veterans who have been with us since our early days.”

About Goldbell Group

Goldbell Group is Singapore’s largest player in leasing and distribution of commercial and industrial vehicles. Literally a driving force behind Singapore’s growing economy, Goldbell has been providing corporate financial services and industry-wide transport and logistic solutions – passenger and commercial vehicles, as well as material handling equipment – for over four decades.

With the vision to be a leading player in the future mobility landscape for smart cities, Goldbell’s Future Mobility division focuses on five main aspects. 

  1. Advance its core business through deployment of innovative and functional technologies
  2. Venture-invest into disruptive start-ups
  3. Operate the MoveSG accelerator to catalyze the growth of future technology champions in the area of mobility, transport, and logistics
  4. Venture-build businesses of the future including a shared mobility technology company and an autonomous warehousing solutions company
  5. Establish an AI Tech Talent Hub incorporated fund 


About the award

The EY Family Business Award of Excellence was launched in 2013 to recognize family enterprises that have made significant socio-economic contributions and demonstrated the ability to harmonize between business and family matters. It is jointly selected by knowledge partners, Business Families Institute @ Singapore Management University and the Wendel International Centre for Family Enterprise, INSEAD. 

Family enterprises that have been honored include Hong Leong Group, Far East Organization, the Kewalram Chanrai Group, B.P. de Silva Holdings, Eu Yan Sang International Ltd, Jebsen & Jessen (SEA) Pte Ltd, Tolaram Group and Sing Lun Holdings Pte Ltd.


  • Leadership of the company includes family member(s) from second or subsequent generations, or has multiple branches of a family involved in leadership. (i.e., one individual and first generation would not qualify for the award).

  • The family still has a significant ownership and voting stake and is primarily responsible for setting the strategic direction and values for the firm.

  • The legal form of the company or group of companies is not relevant.

  • Companies may be private or publicly traded.

  • If the shares and voting rights have been transferred to a trust, it will remain to be considered as family enterprises if the family has dominant influence on the trust in a way described above.

  • The business or headquarter of the business is located in Singapore.

Judging criteria:

  • Company shows evidence of a successful, sustainable and long term-oriented strategy.

  • Company has adopted an effective and transparent corporate governance approach, enabling the execution of the desired strategy and living out of family values.

  • Company governance enables unity among the ownership family (i.e., little evidence of significant family disputes impacting the business).

  • Demonstrated the ability of the family to preserve company culture, tradition and values and maintain the entrepreneurial spirit and continued innovation over generations.

  • Evidence shown of exceptional personnel management.

  • Commitment to philanthropic causes or corporate social responsibility.

  • Other exceptional achievements such as business awards, public service etc.