World Economic Forum on Asean

WEF invests in entrepreneurs to generate future jobs

Lim Wai Mun was an investment officer in the energy space before setting up telehealth company Doctor Anywhere in 2015.
Lim Wai Mun was an investment officer in the energy space before setting up telehealth company Doctor Anywhere in 2015. PHOTO: DOCTOR ANYWHERE

HANOI • The glitz of the corporate world did not appeal, and in charity, he found his calling.

Temasek Holdings' Lim Wai Mun, 36, was an investment officer in the energy space when he signed up for charity work at the encouragement of the company. That stint exposed him to significant gaps in healthcare, and soon he sought permission to follow his desire and instincts.

Telehealth company Doctor Anywhere was founded in 2015 and launched late last year to improve healthcare accessibility in Singapore. Those needing care can use its app to consult doctors over video, get medicines delivered at home or have nurses go over for necessary medical treatments.

It has 50,000 users today, and CEO and founder Mr Lim is aiming to get many more, from beyond Singapore too. He told The Straits Times (ST) that he hopes to have 500 people working with him in three years. There are 40 people on full-time operations now, backed by a network of some 200 others.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is looking to bring together entrepreneurs like him for a new global community, following research that shows entrepreneurs, by creating jobs, are key drivers of social and economic progress.

The WEF made a concerted beginning in Hanoi yesterday with a full-day programme for regional entrepreneurs, with discussions focused around their experiences, challenges and possible solutions.

"World Economic Forum was a start-up," said Professor Klaus Schwab, the organisation's founder and executive chairman. Having seen WEF become a success, he said, he understood what entrepreneurs go through - hence this initiative.

Eighty start-ups from South-east Asia, representing a range of areas such as financial services, logistics and travel, were invited to be part of the meet in Hanoi, being held under the theme Asean 4.0: Entrepreneurship And The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

They were selected from about 300 who applied to join the forum by a panel of judges comprising venture capitalists, technology experts and media leaders, including The Straits Times. The work these start-ups do ranges from a syariah-compliant cryptocurrency to a Filipino algorithm helping to protect coral reefs.


Mr Warren Fernandez, Singapore Press Holdings' English/Malay/ Tamil Media group editor-in-chief and ST editor, said: "Amid the sweeping disruption and change taking place all round the world, some enterprising young entrepreneurs are seizing opportunities in Asia that are made possible by the new emerging technologies.

"They have been beavering away, mostly out of sight of the media glare. But their stories are worth telling, not least to inspire others to seize the day. So, we at The Straits Times are happy to be working with the World Economic Forum to showcase some of their efforts."

ST associate editor Rahul Pathak, who was a member of the jury, said what stood out for him "was the number of entrepreneurs, across a span of geographies, who were using technology not just for efficiency, but to involve entire communities in their businesses". "If they succeed, these communities will share in their success," he said.

WEF will spread this effort to China, the United States and a few other places before its annual meeting in Davos, where an Uplink platform will be launched with 10,000 start-ups. Prof Schwab's target is to grow this number to about 100,000 start-ups within a short period.

He said that as societies evolve, he hopes the narrative will shift from production and consumption to sharing and caring.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2018, with the headline 'WEF invests in entrepreneurs to generate future jobs'. Print Edition | Subscribe