Entrepreneurs are playing an important role as Singapore's economy makes the transition to be more productive and manpower-lean, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say yesterday.
"Entrepreneurs help to refresh our economy, change the rules of the game and change our lives for the better," Mr Lim said, referring to the way that enterprises cater to the needs of customers and help create new jobs.
Speaking at the 27th The Entrepreneur of the Year Award (EYA) ceremony last night, he encouraged entrepreneurs to keep "sparking" new ideas and innovation, and grow with the market.
In Singapore, SMEs employ 70 per cent of the local workforce and account for nearly half of the country's economic output.
Mr Lim said the two driving forces of better productivity and innovative breakthrough are the "best bet" to keep firms dynamic, vibrant and progressive.
The 16 award winners are good examples of entrepreneurs willing to take risks, innovate and turn challenges into opportunities, Mr Lim told more than 500 guests at the event.
Among the winners was Mr Kitnasamy Marudapan, 58, founder of Gates PCM Construction, who bagged the Overall Winner award in the Established Entrepreneur category. His company constructs and maintains track works related to the MRT and LRT systems here. He plans to regionalise the business.
There were two Overall Winners in the New Entrepreneur category, a first since EYA was launched in 1989. They were: Mr Chiang Zhan Xiang, 30, founder of Pezzo Singapore, and Mr Frank Phuan and Mr Lawrence Wu, both 39, who co-founded Sunseap Group. Pezzo Singapore aims to double the number of pizza outlets here to over 50 by year-end, while Sunseap Group hopes to drive the use of solar energy in South-east Asia.
The EYA was co-organised by the Rotary Club of Singapore and the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.