Skincare product maker and face spa owner Pauline Ng, 29, was the youngest among the winners of the inaugural Teochew Entrepreneur Award presented at the Ritz-Carlton hotel recently.
"She represents a new face of Teochew entrepreneurs here and also their special traits such as diligence, resilience, courage to innovate and attention to details, values which we want to promote among our young," said Mr George Quek, chairman of BreadTalk Group and president of Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan which organised the biennial event, the first by a Chinese clan association.
Ms Ng, managing director of Porcelain, was among the 12 Promising Award recipients. Another 16 winners were honoured with the Prestige Awards. She was also one of the six Grand Award winners for topping her category.
The awards were separated by the size of the business. Promising Award winners' businesses must have an annual turnover of at least $1 million each but not more than $10 million, while Prestige's must all be above $10 million.
"I am very honoured by the recognition given to me by the clan association and will continue to work hard though I grew up not speaking Teochew," said Ms Ng, who founded her company with her beautician mother Jenny Teng, 53, soon after she graduated from Singapore Management University in 2009.
Ms Ng has grown her business from a two-bed face spa in Cantonment Road in 2009. It now has its own line of skincare products and 45 employees, most of them therapists. She will have three outlets by October this year.
The award's organising chairman Kenny Sim, 46, said the idea for the event was mooted two years ago when the Teochew clan, the second biggest here after the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan, wanted "to do something different to attract the young to the clan".
"But through the event, we were surprised to find out that Teochew entrepreneurship is still very much alive and many successful businesses here, both big and small, are run by our clansmen, some of them very young like Ms Ng," he added.
More than 40 businesses run by Teochews were nominated for the awards and they came from a wide spectrum of industries, from medical and healthcare, professional services and property development to automobile and IT services and manufacturing and logistics.
The awards' eight-member judging panel, comprising the Teochew clan's leaders, professionals from the private sector and senior statutory board officers, also gave an honorary award to 98-year-old Eng Liat Kiang, founder and chairman of Sin Heng Chan, a diversified group of companies founded in the 1950s and a pioneer in the feedmilling industry here back then, for his many years of achievements.
With the success of the inaugural awards, Poit Ip Huay Kuan vice-president Derek Goh, 54, said the clan is planning to expand it to include Teochews from neighbouring countries to broaden the networks of Teochew entrepreneurs in the region.