How youth entrepreneurs from Singapore and China saved their businesses during a COVID-19 pandemic

Despite language and cultural barriers, these youths showed us how they've managed to keep their businesses afloat.

Winny Wint Htae

Published: 9 July 2020, 4:29 PM

We’ve read many stories about entrepreneurs trying to keep their businesses afloat during this badly hit economy. But how about those who have managed to survive during this pandemic? What are their secrets?

During an online youth webinar held yesterday (Jul 9), organised by the National Youth Council and All-China Youth Federation, I had the opportunity to hear from youths in Singapore and China about how they are using their entrepreneurial skills to keep businesses alive.

Here are some of the tips I managed to pick up from the two-hour session last evening:

Be quick at adapting to changes

Professor Ge Jianxin from the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) in Beijing shared that while the pandemic has affected businesses in China, youth entrepreneurs got back up on their feet pretty quickly.

“Young people are more courageous, they are quicker at adapting to change in society. This is the greatest significance of youth entrepreneurship because they are quicker at adapting to change in the market,” explained Professor Ge.


Professors and youth entrepreneurs from Singapore and China shared anecdotes about businesses during the webinar. PHOTO CREDIT: NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL

Make good use of your online expertise

However, Professor Ge mentioned that some business owners had an “entrepreneurial mindset” as they saw an opportunity to switch to an online platform during the pandemic.

Professor Ge gave an example of a jewellery shop that used to have a lot of customers through tourism. After the shop stopped getting customers due to the travel restrictions for tourists, the owner moved the business to an online platform, where her business continued to thrive.

Professor Ge added that switching to an online platform may be easy for youth entrepreneurs as they could come up with new business models and adapt to changes easily.

Collaborate with other entrepreneurs in the region

Similarly, I heard about several Singaporean youths who used their entrepreneurial skills to help in the fight against COVID-19 from Professor Annie Koh of Singapore Management University (SMU).

Professor Koh shared how Singaporean youths navigated the way forward by having conversations and staying connected with other like-minded entrepreneurs.

She gave an example of Arthur Chua from Goldbell Group, a market leader in industrial vehicles.

Arthur started a new business called SWAT Mobility, working with Toyota Mobility Foundation to offer transportation for healthcare workers in Manila, Philippines.

Due to the country’s lockdown and reduced public transportation services, Arthur’s SWAT Mobility offered free transportation for healthcare workers to shuttle to the hospital.

Another young entrepreneur who is bringing Singapore to greater heights is Ankesh Shahra, CEO of Agrimax Ventures and Vertiveggies.

Ankesh met someone from a Chinese indoor farming company Sananbio at a conference in San Diego two years ago.

Despite the language barrier, he joined forces with Sananbio to develop an indoor vertical plant factory which boosted Singapore’s agritech industry.

The joint project will help the Singapore government to reach its goal of producing 30 per cent of Singapore’s nutritional needs by 2030.

Despite these language or cultural barriers, cross collaborations are something young entrepreneurs should consider, said Professor Koh.

“You do not ask questions about whether you speak my language or I speak your language. You are like-minded in your passion to create a better world,” added Professor Koh.


The webinar attendees were eager to learn about how other youth entrepreneurs overcame the obstacle of COVID-19 and made their businesses thrive. PHOTO CREDIT: NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL


Even though I am not a business student, this webinar was interesting because it helped me understand the potential youths have despite our young age.

The speakers’ stories helped me learn about how youth entrepreneurs are keeping businesses alive during COVID-19, and the impact they have brought to the world.

It was also inspiring to see entrepreneurs at the event exchanging their contact information, continuously broadening their network even though they were not able to meet offline.

Who knows, if we can all overcome these language barriers, many more conversations and collaborations between youths from different countries could materialise in the future.

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