Business WYN

Passionate Endeavours

by Su Aziz

An entrepreneurial journey inevitably involves a bumpy ride but as Andrew Ching, Nini Daing and Abd Elmohaimen Mansi discover, it’s truly rewarding on so many levels. Passion, they believe, is the main ingredient to achieving satisfaction. Three chief executive officers who met with participants of WIEF’s Young Fellows 2017 talk to Su Aziz about their experience.This was published in the first edition of In Focus.

Unassuming, amiable but ever observant of his surroundings, 45- year old Andrew Ching founded E-Plus Global Limited in 2004 and he was one of the speakers at WIEF’s initiative for young entrepreneurs, Young Fellows 2017, in May. Born in the historical state of Melaka, Andrew has been working and living in Kuala Lumpur for most of his adult life and as in his own words, ‘Love putting smiles on people’s faces’.

Andrew Ching, founder of E-Plus Global Limited

Driven by his dislike of being told what to do and believe in himself as well as grim determination, Andrew built his multiple award-winning events management company and is today its CEO. By developing a ‘thick skin’ he knocked on doors and made cold calls to build a network. In the first quarter of 2017, E-Plus Global went public in Australia, employs 50 people, has offices in Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and of course, Malaysia.

Worth AUD25 million, the events management company may be Andrew’s pot of gold but as he admits when asked what did he really want to be when he became a grownup, ‘An aeronautical designer because of my fascination with planes and how to make them fly faster. But that dream went bust because I was only good at making paper planes.’

‘Self-satisfaction plays a very important role to be a successful event manager,’ Andrew says. Here, Andrew shares his entrepreneurial journey and toward which direction he thinks his industry is heading.

What was the journey like to get to where you are today as an entrepreneur?
It has been a long and tough journey but the most important things to have are determination, a supportive family and trustworthy friends.

What, if any, would be the golden rule for you when starting a business?
It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down in life, it’s how many times you pick yourself up and continue the journey that matters.

What led to the public listing of E-Plus Global?
Proper evaluation of a company’s worth that’s done in a transparent and credible market and to seek funding.

Biggest challenge of running an events management business?
[Finding and keeping] Passionate staff, cash flow and [the attitude of] ‘do or do not; there’s no try’.

Toward which direction do you see the industry you’re in heading?
Digitalisation of the industry is inevitable hence we should embrace this digital age. Whether in terms of knowledge or equipment, we as event managers should keep ourselves abreast with the latest trends and movement in this area.

In your opinion, what are the obstacles faced by business communities today compared to a decade ago?
As the world gets smaller with affordable travel and connectivity via the internet, smaller entities find themselves stacked up against the bigger players who now find it easier to get a foothold in markets all over the globe.

Besides technology, enviable human capital and an expanding economy, what do you think can be the one other thing that can elevate business?
The human spirit – while everything else can be replaced, nothing can replace or beat your determination.

Finally, if you’d known then what you know now, about starting a business, what would you do differently?
Life is never about regrets but about learning so I wouldn’t change anything I had to go through in the past.

In 2010, myHarapan, a non-profit foundation was started. It develops young people into independent and wholesome contributing individuals through the use of social entrepreneurship as a medium. To date, it has a satellite office in Ipoh and plans to have myHarapan clubs in schools and universities around Malaysia.

Nini Daing, chief executive officer of myHarapan

An experienced trainer for SMEs as well as unemployed graduates, myHarapan’s CEO Nini Daing’s 17-year experience in startups extended to training and coaching SMEs as well as unemployed graduates. 41-year old Nini noticed how majority of the people who came to MDeC, where she worked previously, were below the age of

35 with brilliant ideas but, ‘Many couldn’t get access to funding and other facilitation services because, perhaps, they didn’t meet certain requirements, weren’t established or registered organisations and lacked experience,’ she recalls.

‘We spoke to over 60 youth leaders. They needed a fun, independent organisation to take them and their ideas seriously. After all, if positive change is to come, it’ll be through our youths,’ she says. Due to depleting philanthropic funds, Nini explains how non-profits need sustainability more so now in order to sustain operations on a longer-term basis. Some funds that are available for charitable causes don’t help pay the salaries or its use has to adhere to criteria set by the funding organisation.

Long-term results and systemic change are necessary but most non-profits survive on a project-to-project basis. Nini suggests funding organisations should allow non- profits to determine how the money should be spent to ensure long term impact achievements and monitored together on a milestone basis. ‘Non-profits need to come together as a collective for bigger impact instead of the bite pieces happening now,’ she says. Non-profits need to be able to have a better understanding of what’s already available to them.

Here, Nini tells us more about it.

How does myHarapan earn revenue to keep going?
Initially, we received a generous one–off grant from the Malaysian government as startup capital but knew not to rely purely on grants to move forward. So, we offer our development programmes to public and corporate bodies and impose a fee on some of our capability programmes to youths which cross-subsidise other programmes. We also now have a venture capitalist company that invests in social business enterprises and solicits funding for our social venture fund.

Besides funds, what other challenges do non-profit organisations face in Malaysia?
Lack of affordable access to training opportunities and schemes usually offered to ‘conventional’ businesses to enhance team competencies and professionalism – such as Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) privileges to non-profits, with a different structure to contributions. Also, attracting good talent and overcoming the perception that non-profits do not pay a salary or are not seen as a legitimate career pathway.

How do non-profit organisations assist communities in Malaysia?
Non-profits exist to fill gaps that both the public and private sector are unable to do themselves. They’re motivated by the need to provide a better life for those in need. More often than not, they are the voice of the voiceless, an intermediary with the pulse on the ground and therefore the community.

Which direction are non-profit organisations heading towards in Malaysia?
Towards the sustainability of operations. Developing business models and social innovation is the way forward. Fund- raising is tasking and you need to have the privilege of the know-how to get to the funds fast.

Born in Jeddah, 31-year old Abd Elmohaimen Mansi started Elmangos in January of 2016 and has offices in Kuala Lumpur, where he currently lives, as well as Dubai. His six- man strong company focuses on organising socially impactful ventures, events or exhibitions, develop technologies or apps and business consultancy for entrepreneurs from emerging markets.

Abd Elmohaimen Mansi, founder & chief executive officer of Elmangos

During the CEOs’ dinner where 24 participants of WIEF’s leadership empowerment programme for young entrepreneurs, Young Fellows 2017, Abd Elmohaimen got the chance to share with them his favourite topic – owning a business versus being employed and the satisfaction he got from it.

Today, as chief executive officer of his own company, he can’t stop reminding those who’ll listen, ‘The awesomeness of being your own boss, the freedom entrepreneurship gives you is a freedom of spirit to control your own destiny, shape the future the way you wish to shape it. But it’s not easy. It requires hard work. However, it’s a rewarding journey if you have faith and tawakul.’

Abd Elmohaimen had spent over a decade working in the hospitality and events management as well as tourism industry, in Dubai. ‘These are areas in which I not only have expertise and knowledge but they’re also my passion. Events are a great element in driving forward economies and an effortless way to reach a mass audience if your intention is to create an impact.’

Here, he motivates us through his entrepreneurial experience.

Describe your entrepreneurial journey.
Being an Egyptian and living in a tough environment like Egypt’s forced me to be an entrepreneur at an early age. Together with my brothers, we started an internet café company in Ismailia, Egypt. Then, I worked in the corporate world for 10 years in Dubai. After making over USD9 million in revenue for my employers, I realised it was time to do something for myself. So, I quit in mid-2016 to focus on building Elmangos.

What was your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?
It was challenging to structure an idea or build an idea from scratch. It required so much work and intelligence. Especially to get people from all over world to meet on one platform and who basically are being sold an idea as yet unrealised.

Why target the global Islamic digital economy?
It’s one of the fastest growing market in the world with a relatively untapped consumer base. Also, much more attention should be given to developing better products or services within this growing USD2.1 trillion economy.

Besides China, where in Asia is best for startups?
Malaysia is the best place! Coming from Dubai, it’s extremely important to lower the cost of starting up, have a vibrant ecosystem of entrepreneurs and a supportive government. Malaysia has all three. It’s not perfect, nowhere is, but there’s a lot of opportunities in Malaysia, particularly in the digital space for entrepreneurs. Malaysian government’s helpful to foreign entrepreneurs interested to start a business in Malaysia. Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s (MDEC) recently launched Malaysian Foreign Tech Entrepreneur Programme certainly helps too.

Besides technology, enviable human capital and an expanding economy, what do you think can be the one other thing that can elevate business?
This might be an odd answer, but one thing that can really help leverage a business is intention and focusing on social impact. Your intention and passion to build something great can help a business where talent, money and economy can’t. Instilling strong core values and a mission for your employees can make the biggest difference to a business.

Finally, your advice to budding entrepreneurs?
Cash is oxygen in a business! I’d recommend that you’ve at least six months financial reserve and a clear plan on how to become profitable as quickly as possible.


For more on the latest topics related to business, technology, finance and more, read our digital versions of In Focus magazine, issue 1, issue 2 and issue 3.

22 Jan 2019
Last modified: 25 Jan 2019
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