Following is a list of 10 successful Malaysian entrepreneurs and businessmen.
1. Loh Boon Siew (Boon Siew Honda)
The entrepreneurship spirit showed by the Chinese immigrant was so classic that it granted him entry in the school’s curriculum. The late Boon Siew was the man responsible to start the dealership of Honda motorcycles in Penang, hence it does not come as a surprise when he was often referred as ‘Mr Honda’.
With literally no education, he arrived in Penang at a tender age of 12, backed with little money, and a pinch of determination. Boon Siew started his job as a mechanic, before making his way to prominence with Honda dealership, and in the process, beat all odds.
2. Robert Kuok (Kuok Group)
When you combine good education and family’s wealth, then no hell will break loose. Banking on those two key strengths, Robert Kuok took over his father’s trading business, together with two brothers, and created a business larger than anyone can think of. The impact is so great that Kuok has been sitting on the top of Malaysia’s rich list for more than 5 years. Residing in Hong Kong, Kuok is mostly linked to a sugar business but also has his hands on other wide range of industries including hospitality, energy, logistic and manufacturing.
3. Tony Fernandes (Air Asia)
Tony Fernandes is the man behind AirAsia’s journey to world domination. With RM1, Tony bought a defunct carrier, along with over RM40 million in debts, and created Asia’s most successful budget airline company. From an ailing company deep in financial trouble, AirAsia went through a remarkable turnaround and made its first profit merely after 7 months of operation. From thereon, they never looked back and created records after records.
4. Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary (MMC)
A humble entrepreneur, often shying away from publicity and media. Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary is the richest Malay and bumiputra in Malaysia, and has continued to hold the status for a long time. In his childhood, he found difficulties to do school revision because of the inadequate house facilities and small space. But that did not stop him from achieving his current status. Syed Mokhtar is a great giver; his very first salary received during his youth was divided by 2 halves – one for him, and another for charity.
5. Lim Goh Tong (Genting)
Lim Goh Tong is another classic story of a rag-to-riches story. Just like Loh Boon Siew, Lim also migrated from the China mainland in his youth. And as fate would have it, the two later became friends when Lim was on his way to build Genting. From the day he was born until his death, Lim Goh Tong did not speak English – he only communicated in Chinese and Malay languages. But his language barrier did not prevent him from negotiating one of the largest contracts around.
6. Maznah Hamid (Securiforce)
When an almost bankrupt security company was offered to her, Datuk Maznah Hamid and her husband, who were eager to change their ordinary life, took the plunge and sacrificed RM5,000 of their saving. Only then she realized that apart from managing the operation, she also had to be a manager, a clerk, an accountant and an a receptionist. To grow their business, they had to sell their house and moved to a slum that came without electricity. But she perservered. Today, it’s difficult to find someone who has never heard of Securiforce.
7. Ananda Krishnan (Astro)
With an MBA qualification from Harvard University in America and a Degree from Melbourne University in Australia, it’s safe to say that Ananda Krishnan is the ‘smartest’ entrepreneur in the list. With more than $7 billion of networth, only Robert Kuok is richer than him in this country. Ananda has a long list of business involvement, that includes Astro, Measat, Maxis, Aircel, TGV Cinemas and many others.
8. Azman Hashim (Ambank)
A horrible car accident almost wrecked his life, but Tan Sri Azman’s never-say-die attitude eventually rewarded him with larger than life achievements. With good academic background in accounting field, Azman was quick to maneuver his career along the corporate path, joining several established corporations in the process. Since acquiring Arab Malaysian Bank (now Ambank), Azman is credited for his effort to transform a relatively unkown bank into one of the largest financial institutions in the country.
9. Steven Sim (Secret Recipe)
A modern type entrepreneur, Dato’ Steven Sim established the popular Secret Recipe cafe and turned it into one of the most successful homegrown franchises. From merely 6 employees, the company has grown by leaps and bounds and is today backed by more than 300 staff nationwide and still growing. Secret Recipe today can be found in almost all major cities and towns, and is expanding beyond the international border with oversea operations in Singapore and Indonesia.
10. Mustapha Kamal (MK Land)
Tan Sri Datuk Mustapha Kamal is the co-founder of MK Land (an associate company of Emkay Group), which started as a small company and eventually grew to become one of the property icons in Malaysia. At the height of its prominence, the company was picked as one of the major developers of Cyberjaya, Malaysia’s very own cyber city. Among other successful developments carried out by MK Land are Bukit Merah Laketown, Damansara Perdana and Bukit Raya Beruntung.