Singapore Notes

with the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore
with the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore

From October 30 to November 2, 2013 I was in Singapore to facilitate a panel at the World Entrepreneurship Forum: Early Stage Finance for Entrepreneurs. I also received an award from the World Entrepreneurship Forum for my contribution to its first publication, Planet Entrepreneur by Wiley in New York. I wrote Chapter 8: Hello Entrepreneurs! Good-bye Borders! to highlight the expansion of IT and mobile businesses, which can be defined as borderless entrepreneurship. I participated in a book-signing event with other co-authors for entrepreneurs who had come to Singapore from 50 countries.

Speakers on the panel l moderated were Paulo Andrez, EBAN President from Portugal; Dusan Stanovic, the Business Angel of Europe 2013 from Sweden; and Soo Boo Moon, the President of iGlobe Ventures from Singapore. The proceedings of our panel will be conveyed to the European Commission by EBAN as a WentF proposal for easing the way for entrepreneurs’ access to financing.

I also found an opportunity to talk about innovation success with the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore during my visit. As the Ambassador of the World Entrepreneurship Forum to Turkey and the Balkan countries, l invited him to visit Turkey and the Balkan countries to share his secrets of innovation, given that he is recognized as the Singaporean authority on this issue.

In the opening ceremony of the forum, there was one speaker who addressed the importance of Impact Investment. Impact Investment is a highly valuable concept for entrepreneurial eco-systems because it refers to investments also producing a social value for societies.

Flying to Singapore

IMG_1581The English name of Singapore is derived from the Malay word Singapura (literally “Lion City”), and hence the customary reference to the nation as the Lion City. Lions probably never lived there; the beast that was seen by Sang Nila Utama, who founded and named ancient Singapore, was most likely a tiger. Just 50 years ago, in the 1960s, Singapore Island was a jungle. Now, it is a country where taxi drivers make 2500 Singaporean dollars a month and 15% of the population are millionaires. This is the highest ratio in the world, so we can easily call Singapore the island of millionaires. The prediction for 2016 is that 30% of the population will be millionaires. The current population of Singapore is around 6 million and 1 EUR is 1.7 Singaporean dollars.

This was my second visit to Singapore. 15 years ago l stayed in a very nice hotel, the Carlton on Orchard Street. Remembering my previous visit, l put an umbrella in my suitcase. Singapore’s tropical weather is a little bit strange for people coming from outside Asia. It’s a little bit difficult to breathe because of the humidity and every day it rains heavily for a few hours. This time l stayed at the Waterfront Hotel on the Singapore River. The river is the longest river in the region and originates from the South China Sea. The Waterfront Hotel has a very distinctive feature: It doesn’t have a lobby. You have to stand-up to sit-downJ   This hotel has taken an innovative step in the hospitality industry.IMG_1548

At the CIP lounge of Istanbul Atatürk airport, I met with Professor Atamer, who was flying to Singapore from Istanbul as well. We had booked our flights together so that we could have plenty of time on the flight to talk about the opportunities and challenges in the world’s entrepreneurship eco-system.

It was a midnight flight and Turkish Airlines was perfect. When we landed in Singapore, it was around 4 pm and our transfer service was waiting for us. I remember that 15 years ago, the Singapore airport was known as the world’s best and l was a little bit jealous when l compared it to the Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport. But now, l think it is now the turn of Singaporeans to be jealous because Istanbul Atatürk Airport now surpasses Singapore airport in many ways. Singapore’s CIP lounge in particular cannot even compare with the one in Istanbul.

Navigating Change for Sustainable Growth

IMG_1608This was the World Entrepreneurship Forum’s 6th conference and the theme was “Navigating Change for Sustainable Growth”. The Forum has 600 think-tank members from 75 countries and all members come together to discuss a challenging topic. This year’s topic was discussed in 5 different workshops.

Now let’s hear from Caroline Le Brune, the Director of WEntF about the this new edition of the forum:

“Since 2008, the World Entrepreneurship Forum has been raising awareness about entrepreneurship, creating wealth and social justice. Gathering key stakeholders from the entrepreneurial ecosystems worldwide, the Forum highlights entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship of all kinds, showcasing inspiring story-tellers, energizing action-makers or innovative policy-makers, experts and academics. Both a “think-tank” and a “do tank”, the Forum aims to connect people, disseminate the entrepreneurial spirit across generations and encourage “crowd thinking” processes to solve the world’s majör economic and social challenges. Over the past months, the World Entrepreneurship Forum has moved to a new stage, expanding its activities all around the world: the first Rural World Entrepreneurship Forum has been launched in India (Maharashtra) under the leadership of Mrs. Sunetra Pawar, founder of the Environmental Forum of India; seven Junior World Entrepreneurship Forums in six countries have been organized, gathering thousands of students and aspiring entrepreneurs, and a World Entrepreneurship Forum chapter in Dubai will be held this December with eminent personalities from the entrepreneurship field in the UAE. Last but not least, early this October, the Forum published its first book “Planet Entrepreneurs: A guide to successful business and social ventures”, co-written by Steve Strauss and 12 members of the Forum and published by Wiley & Sons, the top business publisher in the world. All these initiatives contribute to transform the World Entrepreneurship Forum. The scale-up phase has now started. For its sixth conference, the theme of the World Entrepreneurship Forum will be “Entrepreneurs: navigating change for sustainable growth”. The entrepreneurs are creating and moving forward, no matter what potential failures or changes they face. And thanks to their energy, they navigate the change and find opportunities where others see only constraints. More than ever, the unsung hero needs to be recognized and celebrated for his search for sustainable growth. Over 3 days, you will be invited to share and brainstorm on this topic, generating ideas serving millions of entrepreneurs.’’

WEntF TeamIMG_1583

The World Entrepreneurship Forum has 6 Co-Presidents and 1 Executive Chairman.

  • Professor Tugrul ATAMER, Vice President of EMLYON Business School and Executive Chairman of the World Entrepreneurship Forum – Turkey
  • Mr. Jean-Luc DECORNOY, Vice Chairman, KPMG EMEA – France
  • Mr. Inderjit SINGH, Enterprise Committee Board member, NTU (Nanyang Technological University) Member of the Singapore Parliament – Singapore
  • Dr. Steven FANG, Partner, Clearbridge Accelerator, and Deputy Chairman, Action Community for Entrepreneurship, Singapore – Singapore
  • Mr. Philippe GRILLOT, President, Lyon Chamber of Commerce and Industry – France
  • Pr. Xiaobo WU, Dean, School of Management, Director of National Institute for Innovation Management and Director of Academy of Global Zhejiang Entrepreneurs, Zhejiang University – China

Inderjit Singh, the co-president of WentF, is also a co-author of Planet Entrepreneur and also the main organizer of the Singapore edition of the forum with Dr. Steven Fang. Thanks to their superb hosting and efforts, everything went very smoothly in the forum. Inderjist will visit Istanbul next summer and we have already started making plans.

Inderjit Singh is a bestselling writer on innovation. He wrote Chapter 2 of Planet Entrepreneur and you can find an article in Forbes about his chapter.

The WEntF team, under the leadership of Professor Atamer, provided excellent organization. What l observed about Professor Atamer’s management style is that he gives full independence to each member of the team and they all lead their own departments. It seems to me they are not working for WEntF but leading for WEntF.

  • Ms. Caroline Le Brun, Director – France
  • Ms. Stéphanie Kergall, Deputy Director – France
  • Mr. Viet Anh Vu, Community Manager – France
  • Ms. Sophie Le Gal,  Assistant – France
  • Ms. Margaux Fauvel, JWEF Coordinator – France

I enjoyed a talk by Xin Hao, co-founder of Green Zhejiang, China. She moved to the US from China when she was 3 years old. Her mother and father both worked and she faced many challenges at that young age. But now at 23 years old, she is an award-winning pianist, beauty queen and owner of a business. She gave a very important clue to would-be-entrepreneurs—one I agree with whole-heartedly: ‘If there is no door to knock on, then build one’.

In the first day of the forum, there was a presentation on Planet Entrepreneur, the first book of the World Entrepreneurship Forum, published by the world’s top business publisher, John Wiley & Sons.

IMG_1565The book was written by Steve Strauss, Senior USA TODAY Small Business columnist and a member of the Forum. Turkish entrepreneurs know Steve very well because he attended EBAN’s Istanbul Winter University as the Workshop Facilitator last January. He came to Istanbul with his wife and it was his first trip to Istanbul. He bought 3 Turkish carpets from the Grand Bazaar and whenever he looks at the walls where they now hang, he remembers Istanbul.

You can read an article in Forbes about his chapter on intrapreneurship.


From start-up to scale-up: Financing for sustainable growth

Facilitator:  Baybars Altuntas, Founder – Deulcom lnternational, President – BusinessAngels Association of Turkey

• Paulo Andrez: Board Member of Dna Cascais & President of EBAN, Portugal

His presentation: Navigating Change

• Koh Soo Boon: Founder & Managing Partner – iGlobe Partners, Singapore

Her presentation: World Entrep Forum Oct 2013

• Dusan Stojanovic: Founder – True Global Ventures, Sweden

His presentation: Global 1000 presentation


Creating opportunities with and for the Base of the Pyramid

Facilitator: Jack Sim, Founder, World Toilet Organization, Singapore

• Nicolas Hazard: Chairman, Le Comptoir de l’Innovation & Vice-Chairman, Groupe SOS, France

• Jeannie Javelosa: Co-Founder – ECHOstore, President – ECHOsi Foundation, The Philippines

• Sunetra Pawar: Founder – Environmental Forum of India, India

Municipal strategies to attract talents and become ports of reference for entrepreneurs to launch their businesses?

Facilitator: Steve Strauss, USA TODAY Senior Small Business Columnist, President – TheSelfEmployed, USA

• Abdul Baset Al Janahi: CEO – Dubai SME Department of Economic Development (DED), UAE

• Jacques de Chilly: Executive Director – Invest In Lyon, France

• Simon Levy: CEO – “Calidad de Vida, Progreso y Desarrollo”, Mexico City, Mexico

Global best practices to boost women’s entrepreneurship

Moderator: Melinda Emerson, Blogger – “You’re The Boss Blog”, The New York Times. Best-selling author of “Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months”, USA

• Tamara Abdel Jaber: Co-Founder & Executive Board Member – Palma Consulting, Jordan

• Anna-Lena Johansson: Head – Business Development Region Goteborg, Sweden

• Mpho Mahanyele: Owner – Cabworld / Chedza International, South Africa

• BRA Mooryati Soedibyo: Founder – Mustika Ratu & Women Entrepreneurship Academy, Indonesia

Using Singapore as a bridge between China and Asia – Session conducted in Mandarin

Facilitator: Dr. Mark Greeven, Associate Professor, Zhejiang University, School of Management, China

• Jin Jian, Chairman of Sayou Financial, China

• Zhang Lu, GP President of Treasureway, China

• Pan Nengbing, Chairman of SNHUA Technology, China

• James Tan, Co-Founder of 55tuan, Managing Partner at QuestVC, and Chairman of the ACE Overseas Chapter Sub-committee, Singapore

From start-up through growth: The role of incubators & accelerators

Facilitator: Dr. Steven Fang, Partner – Clearbridge Accelerator & Deputy Chairman – Action Community for Entrepreneurship, Singapore

• Prof. Michel Coster, Director, EMLYON Business School Incubator, France

• Dr. Eythor Jonsson, Director at Accelerate Business Research Center – Copenhagen Business School, Denmark; CEO of KLAK Innovation Center, Iceland.

• Prof. Dafna Kariv, Professor at the Entrepreneurship Center, Colman University, Israel

• Dr. Lim Jui, CEO (NTU Innovation), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Outputs of the Workshop

IMG_1611At the beginning of our workshop I gave the audience this question to ponder: “Entrepreneurs have difficulty finding financing for their start-ups if the amount they need falls in the equity gap. The equity gap has two divisions: Finance gap for 0 – 50K and 500K – 3M. At the end of this workshop what sort of solutions can we bring to the attention of the entrepreneurship eco-system that will help fill these gaps?’’

All our speakers and the audience shared their experiences, case studies and ideas about this challenge. At the end of the workshop, with contributions from the audience and panel members, we produced some very good solutions. We were lucky because EBAN President Paulo Andrez was on our panel and he declared that these solutions would be officially conveyed to the European Commission.

  • For filling the first gap (0 – 50K), crowd funding is a good solution. So, technology platforms and crowd funding should be supported and each government should prepare a legal infrastructure for crowd funding. We may refer to crowd funding platforms as mini-business-angels.
  • For filling the second gap (500K – 3M), co-investment funds should be developed with the participation of public funds, business angels and VCs.
  • Impact Investment’s ROI is long term and in many cases leads to unprofitable results. So it is very difficult to attract business angels and VCs for impact investments. For this reason, public funds should concentrate on impacting investment start-ups, particularly in educational and bio-tech start-ups.

Impact Investment

IMG_1549Impact Investment is a very valuable concept for entrepreneurial eco-systems of countries because it refers to investments producing also a social value for societies.

In the gala dinner of the forum, Mr. Bruno Bonnell, the President of Emlyon Business School and a serial entrepreneur who was the founder of Atari games, highlighted the importance of impact investment.

Impact investment is studied at the Sabanci University by Anja Koenig and she is about to complete her report on social entrepreneurship and social impacts.

 Acupuncture and foot massage

IMG_1638Before the forum began, Steve Strauss and I went to a foot massage salon. It was on Steve, and l enjoyed the massage immensely. I don’t know why, but if such things come as complimentary or a treat from a friend, you enjoy it more. A 30-minute foot massage was 34 SGD, which was fine. The same evening, l took Paulo to the same salon but this time it was a back massage. Coincidentally, the same masseur that did the foot massage in the morning also did the back massage. The salon was in a shopping center very close to the Waterfront Hotel and l found this salon while looking for buttons in the mall for Professor Atamer.

On the second day of the forum, Steve, Paulo and I took a city tour, which was marvelous. The view from the 62nd floor of City Hall was great. The next day Paulo and I discovered a Chinese acupuncture treatment center, where we both experienced acupuncture for the first time in our lives.

Then we moved to the riverside for a meeting with representatives of BANSEA – the Business Angels Association of South Asia. They are about to become an affiliate member of EBAN. After the meeting, we attended the Forum reception and excellent seafood was served at the gala dinner, where the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore gave a 30-minute speech. He stated he was a big fan of Turkey and Portugal in the Mediterranean region.

Pool Party of Jack

IMG_1668All co-authors of Planet Entrepreneur enjoyed the pool part of Jack’s at his very nice house downtown of Singapore on the 2nd of November night. Jack is a very successful social entrepreneur who devoted himself to impact investment projects for societies. He is running a project with UNICEF to create better oppurtunities for a more healty toilet systems.He is the President of the World’s Toilet Association and visits whole world to foster awareness about the issue.

Lunch with Mr & Ms Koh

Soo Boon Koh invited me for a lunch at the Tiger Club on Sunday just across the American Club. A marvelous Singaporean food was waiting for me. l appreciated the historical and regional knowledge of Mr Kog about Turkey and its region. Koh family visited Turkey before and spent a lot of time by visiting Capadocia, Pamukkale, Istanbul, Ephesus. They had even been to Turkish hammam like l had been to Chinese acupuncture for treatment. Mr & Ms Kog are from China and living in Singapore. Their daughter is studying at Stanford University in San Francisco. Soo Boon even invested in the Voice project of entrepreneurs led by her daughter from Silicon Valley. Mr Koh enjoyed the strategies of Turkish carper sellers in Turkey. Ms Koh has also some investments in Iceland.

Meeting with BANSEA

IMG_1665Paulo Andrez and me were invited for a coffee-break with the representatives of BANSEA – The Business Angels Association of South Eastern Asia at the river side of Singapore on the 2nd of November. It was a very enjoyable fruitful meeting for both sides and now BANSEA will be a partner association of EBAN in this particular region of the world.

How to Make Your First Million Dollar Seminar

l read an advertisement on The Straits Times of Singapore: Free Seminar – Discover the Succeess Formula That Millionaire Investors Use. It was on 2nd of November from 2pm to 5 pm at the AKLTG Training Center – 991 Alexandre Road 01-05 Garden Office Singapore. Adam Khoo – the best seller-book writer and a millionare – opened a Wealth Academy and giving 4 day courses for would-be-millionaries and charging them 4488 SGD. l really wanted to understand how he was selling his course and to see the demand for the course with my own eyes. l made my  and Paulo’s registration online and were in the classroom on time. It was a real experience for us to be in a daily social atmosphere with local people. There were about 25 participants in the classroom and l enjoyed the marketing and selling strategy of Adam very much.But l was a little bit under strees if he made a google search about participants and understood that Dragon of Dragons’ Den  and the president of EBAN are  in his classroom to learn how to make their first millions J Thanks god he didn’t do that and missed an opppurtunity to announce that even dragons are coming to his school to learn how to make wealth J

The winners of the 2013 “Entrepreneur for the World” Awards

Representing four continents, they symbolise, through their achievements, the very essence of an entrepreneurship that creates both wealth and social justice. The winners of the 2013 “Entrepreneur for the World” Awards were announced in Singapore during the gala ceremony of the World Entrepreneurship Forum.

The keynote speaker for the sixth anniversary of the World Entrepreneurship Forum was Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Singapore.

Prizes were awarded for the six following categories:

–       “Young Entrepreneur”: Ashish Thakkar of Uganda

Ashish Thakkar is the Founder and Managing Director of Mara Group, which comprises numerous holding companies that operate in 26 countries and employs over 7,000 people. He grew up in the UK and Uganda, survived the terror of the Rwandan genocide, and started his first company at the age of 15. He devotes much of his energy to both commercial and philanthropic initiatives in Africa.

–       “Educator”: Daniel Epstein of the United States of America

Daniel is the Founder and CEO of Unreasonable Group. Annually, they unite high-impact entrepreneurs from around the world and provide world-class mentorship, access to seed capital, intensive skills training, a global support network and international exposure. Daniel was recognized in 2012 by Forbes as one of the “top 30 most impactful entrepreneurs”.

–       “Social Entrepreneur”: Jean-Baptiste Richardier of France

Dr. Richardier co-founded Handicap International in 1982 to assist Cambodian refugees mutilated by anti-personnel mines. Thirty years later, Handicap International’s work has benefitted several million people in over 60 countries, was a co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize and was awarded the 2011 Hilton Humanitarian Prize.

–       “Business Entrepreneur”: Fadi Ghandour of Jordan

Fadi is the Founder of Aramex, a leading global logistics and transportation company with 14,000 employees in 354 different locations across 60 countries. He is also the Chairman of, an entrepreneurship support platform for the MENA region and the Founder and Chairman of Ruwwad for Development, an initiative that helps disadvantaged communities.

–       “Policy Maker”: Her Excellency Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia

She is the first elected female Head of State in Africa, is serving her second term as President and co-received the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. During her tenure, she has built strong relations with regional partners and the international community, attracting direct foreign investment to her country and restoring Liberia’s international reputation.

–       “Serial Entrepreneur”: Sir Richard Branson of the United Kingdom

He is Founder of the Virgin Group, one of the world’s most irresistible brands, with more than 100 companies worldwide and approximately 60,000 employees in over 50 countries. Branson has challenged himself with many record breaking adventures and has always found entrepreneurial ways to provoke positive change in the world. In 2004 he established Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group.

The World Entrepreneurship Forum at a glance

Founded in 2008 by EMLYON Business School and KPMG France, later joined by Action Community for Entrepreneurship and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Greater Lyon and Lyon Chamber of Commerce and Industry in France, and Zhejiang University in China, the World Entrepreneurship Forum has already brought together more than 600 members from 75 countries to tackle our world’s most pressing issues with entrepreneurial solutions.

Singapore Tips at a glance

  •  Airline : Turkish Airlines – perfect

29 Oct – Istanbul – Singapore / 3 Nov – Singapore – Istanbul

  • Hotel: Grand Copthorne Water Front Hotel – no lobby – good

230 SGD – per night – B&B

Late check-out until 18 00 : 100 SGD

5 minutes by taxi to downtown

Room: 352 – very nice river view

  • Curency : 1 USD = 1.25 SGD / 1 SGD = 0,68 TRL /
  • Weather Condition: raining in the afternoons – keep your extra shoes with you and an umbrella
  • Airport – Hotel : 35 SGD –
  • Shopping Tips : No invoice – cheaper – but you have to pay cash / no credit card
  • Singapore CIP Lounge :  Not bad – 7 over 10
  • Daily City Tour : 24 Hours Ticket – Sightseeing Pass – 33 SGD – Very good
  • Footmassage :30 minutes – 34 SGD max
  • Sands Skypark : 20 SGD – Very nice
  • Taxi rates: Very cheap

IMG_1679 IMG_1669 IMG_1651 IMG_1641 IMG_1616 IMG_1611

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