Thursday, June 12, 2014

EY World Entrepreneurs of the year 2014

Apologies for the Hiatus was in KL on a short trip.
Sharing today is the EY World Entrepreneurs of the year 2014 that happened from 4th to 8th June at Monte Carlo.

Here's all the country winners. I have bold those points I find worthwhile to learn from. Have also done some research on some of the interviews they have given.

Carlos Vallecilla Borrero (Colombia)
Grupo Carval
Unrelenting entrepreneurial spirit and commitment strongly describe the lifetime work of Carlos Vallecilla Borrero. Through his leadership, tenacity and persistence, this 86-year-old Colombian businessman continues to be focused on fulfilling his dream and mission: working for life.
At the age of 15, Carlos left school to help his family financially due to his father’s illness. He began as a supernumerary in services at a bank, but that wasn’t enough for this visionary risk-taker. He founded his first business in 1956, and today he is the leader of a 2,300-person workforce across businesses in 20 countries and 6 different industries: animal health and nutrition, agricultural productivity, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, specialized medical supplies and natural products. His companies are known for their highly engaged talent, innovation and dynamism, customer service and strategic continuity.
It’s deeply important for Carlos to be successful in anything he works hard for, is always operating within a framework of values and principles such as honesty, transparency and respect. He a good friend to his whole team, forming an atmosphere of fellowship and trust that generates a sense of belonging and love for the business. He strives every day to convey the philosophy of enjoying what they do. Along with his family, he created the Carlos Vallecilla Borrero Foundation to improve the overall well-being of his staff and families through programs designed to make an impact in three major perspectives: cognitive, productive and recreational.
How a successful entrepreneur in the pharmaceutical sector began selling chickens in Cali?
I had the idea of ​​opening a business that was in Cali in 1951. Back then worked at the Bank of Colombia, I got up at three in the morning to buy in marketplace between 20 and 25 goats chickens in arriving, as there were no poultry farms. I rode the first steakhouse broiler Cali "La Fonda del Pollo" and a few months earning more money as a bank employee, despite having been manager. I grew year after year until it reached a very sad time when I set about hatching chicks on a farm near Juanchito. There was a great flood in 1968 and all my capital was lost. All that remained were my wife Lya me Martínez and five small children.

What was the key to overcome this tough time?I kept fighting and working and with the help of banks stood. Then I sold raw materials for poultry feed and chemicals to laboratories. I was traveling every week to Bogota, where the largest laboratories-up were that after a big business with a multinational, which was selling a certain product, I learned after inquiring at pharmacies, which they offered ten times expensive. He then told a son that no 'pendejearamos' more and all ride our laboratory.Although we knew nothing of business, we engage people who did know. The important thing is linked with capable people, which we have done since 1988 when we founded the lab today Agrovic Carval-company dedicated to the development and commercialization of products, and livestock sector in 1989 in La Santé Laboratories. We started with a small team and today the Group has 2200 employees.Why venture into the pharmaceutical business, a very complex industry, full of challenges and demands?As I said earlier I started in the business of laboratories Carval vaccines in marketing and manufacturing of veterinary medicines, and knew the needs of the clients, because I was chicken farmer. Then I saw an opportunity in the segment of human drugs, after making many additions and subtractions. We put La Santé (Health), a name that suggested a son who studied in France. Later I learned that was a prison La Santé in France. (Laughs). It was a risky and difficult business to the point of equilibrium after many years. It was losing money he earned from the livestock sector businesses since everything invested in La Santé. Here the challenge was to have high-quality products, which was achieved.

What do you attribute your business success?Faith and persistence. Things can be done despite the difficulties. As much as any trouble, as I had myself, being nearly broke, I managed to overcome them and open new businesses. This has been my life for 70 years of working, and is the legacy I want to leave my family and all my staff.

What would you recommend to entrepreneurs that are emerging today, and that the first difficulty become disillusioned and quit?I think the first thing is to have faith and persistence, to believe in God and in themselves. The second innovation is the key to business success.  

What complements your business vision in a world where businesses are increasingly competed?First, we have very capable people. Always. It is essential to have highly talented people, they are those who take business forward, not machines. That's my philosophy.To succeed as an entrepreneur one must be above all a friend of his colleagues, from the lowest to the highest position. Whoever I get in my office, as there is no more happiness than an employee who can talk to their bosses.

Andrew Bassat (Australia)
Andrew Bassat is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of SEEK. He has led the strategy and growth of the business since its inception. Since launching in 1997, SEEK has transformed the way job seekers and employers are able to find each other. SEEK built a marketplace where job seekers could search and apply for jobs more efficiently and employers can access the largest audience of prospective candidates in a cost-effective manner.
Listed in 2005, SEEK has grown to be an ASX100 company with a market capitalization of approximately AU$4.4b. Since listing, the business has produced total shareholder returns of more than 550%. A key driver of shareholder returns has been Andrew’s effort in leading the M&A and organic growth of global employment marketplaces and education. Alongside Australia and New Zealand, SEEK is now the No. 1 or No. 2 online employment marketplace (by job-seeker visits) across Asia (including China), Brazil, Mexico and Africa. Across its websites, SEEK has global exposure to 2.5 billion people, displays more than 3 million job ads and attracts about 330 million visits to its sites in any given month.
SEEK also owns and operates several leading education businesses. Collectively, they enroll more than 50,000 students and provide course and/or career advice to more than 200,000 prospective students each year.
SEEK is now the largest global online employment marketplace by revenue, earnings and market capitalization. Andrew has facilitated this by focusing on creating a culture that makes SEEK an inspiring and energizing place to work.
“The idea for SEEK came back in 1997, when my brother was looking for a house,” Bassat says. “Going through the process, we realised how inefficient the existing classifieds system was and had a notion we could improve it.
“We’d just started using the internet ourselves and recognised that once it became more mainstream it could provide a better way of doing anything that classifieds used to do, like looking for a house or, in SEEK’s case, finding a job.” On a personal level, he adds that he was “never a good employee” and always wanted to build something for himself.
He puts SEEK’s success down to: “a willingness to continue to back ourselves, to remain entrepreneurial and to keep taking risks”.There have definitely been hurdles along the way and times when it hasn’t been going so well, but I think the key to getting through that has been persistence.”“To be an entrepreneur requires perseverance – recognising that there are no shortcuts. You need to have a good idea, but you also need to be able to push it forward, to believe in yourself and to keep going.”

“If debt these guys have been using to fuel some of the growth is not as cheap, they may go through some short-term pain. But we take a five to 10-year view. Internet penetration in some of these markets is below 50 per cent. That is going to increase over time substantially. Because of demographic trends, if we just hold on to our market share, we should have a much larger business in five years’ time than we have today. These are macro fundamentals no one is challenging.”
Internet penetration in Mexico was 37 per cent, Brazil 46 per cent, China 40 per cent, South Africa up to 28 per cent, and a range of 22 per cent to 75 per cent in Southeast Asia. Mr Bassat said this justified the group’s belief in emerging markets.
There were reports recently that Snapchat was offered $1 billion by Facebook to buy their app. Has selling the business ever been part of the plan, as it is for many startups?
We’re always trying to build new things, and create new things – and for me, there’s plenty of opportunity to do that within SEEK. Had this been just a three year game, and then come down to simply managing the existing business, then there wouldn’t have been much point hanging around. But I continue to be able to – and the leadership team and the organisation as a whole – continue to be able to satisfy entrepreneurial desires under the SEEK umbrella, rather than feeling the need to sell it and move onto the next thing.
What mistakes have you made, and how did you learn from them?
How long have you got! Look we’ve made plenty of mistakes, but I think we also got a lot of the fundamentals right, and especially core philosophies.
In terms of people, we certainly made a lot of mistakes – things like hiring too quickly, ignoring gut instincts, and being too slow to deal with it.
We made some mistakes in other aspects as well, but I think with some of the bigger ones, like with people, we’re doing a better job now with getting the right people on board.

Gerardo Bartolomé  (Argentina)
Don Mario
Gerardo Bartolomé started DONMARIO in 1982 with US$15,000. His goal was to prove that an Argentine company can compete with big firms and that South American companies are not doomed to be bought by huge foreign ones. His dream is to be the lead provider of soybean genetic services in the main soybean-producing countries around the world.
Today the company is the largest and most dynamic Latin American firm engaged in developing seeds for agricultural producers, even as it competes with American and European multinational companies. DONMARIO is the only Argentine company with a presence in an increasingly concentrated and competitive marketplace, and genetics is the main pillar for its growth and business. The company has a 35% market share in the provision of soybean genetic services in South America, producing 60% of the soybeans in the world.
Through its seed improvement process, DONMARIO has broken several soybean cultivation paradigms. Gerardo has maintained the company’s competitive advantage by being quick and flexible. He and his team make faster decisions than their multinational competitors because they truly understand the region and the environment where they operate.
Gerardo’s values as an entrepreneur agree with those guiding DONMARIO: passion for work, professional honesty, teamwork, respect, commitment to service and a good mood. He works by example, demonstrating responsibility and speaking with the truth. He has also received multiple distinctions and awards.
Here's a link to how their company started and the grow and the opportunities presented. Very interesting sharing on partners relationships, networking and foresight.

Maximilian Riedel and Georg Riedel (Austria)
Riedel Tiroler Glashütte GmbH
For more than 250 years, Riedel Tiroler Glashütte has been producing high-quality glass products. Today, the company is renowned for its innovative wineglasses. Founded in 1673 by Johann Christoph Riedel in Northern Bohemia, the company now employs 1,300 people worldwide and generates a turnover of €235m.
With financial help from Swarovski in 1954, Claus Josef Riedel was able to save the family business from insolvency by positioning the company as a premiere wineglass producer on the worldwide market. Claus was the first to discover that bouquet, taste, balance and finish are influenced by the chosen wineglass. He used that knowledge to develop the first wine-friendly stemware.
In 1973, Georg Josef Riedel took over the company and launched the Sommeliers series to worldwide success. He kept on developing the series and in 1986 introduced VINUM, the first varietal-specific wineglass manufactured on machines.
At present, Maximilian Josef Riedel, Georg’s son, is the 11th-generation leader of the company. He designed the very successful O series and the Riedel Restaurant collection, which enabled the company to strengthen its position in the gastronomic market. He also designed various award-winning decanters.
Already armed with more than a dozen different lines of wine glasses, Riedel (pronounced “REE-dle”) has extended its domination of modern drinking by introducing a Barware series sporting specific glasses for grappa, bourbon, tequila and other spirits; and a trio of beer glasses, released through Spiegelau—a former competitor that Riedel absorbed in 2004.
Though Claus can be credited as the progenitor of the Riedel revolution, it is the analytical, driven Georg who took the battle to the doorstep of every restaurant, wine bar and liquor store in the western world (and, increasingly, Japan, China and India).
When you took over the U.S. operations what was your vision and your goals for the U.S. side of the business?
Typical of my father, he threw me into the cold water. So for me of course, running an operation at the age of twenty, which was back then, already a decent size, was something new. The original plan for me was to actually go to Asia, but for Asian mentality, at the age of twenty I was too young. And in America that’s one of the reasons why I love this country so much, is because you always have opportunities and no one asks you about your age. So I arrived on December 8, 2000, and I took over a small office on Long Island, which over the last couple of years I developed into the most important export market for Riedel.
Talk about running such a prominent company at such a young age, and talk about some of the opportunities and challenges that come with that.
The opportunities are of course, that you can very soon express yourself, and again, learn by doing. I had a little bit of a background; I have of course grown up in this kind of business. But to have the final word on decisions was something new for me. And of course there is always a little bit of luck in life, I was meeting the right people at the right time. The previous management that we had was completely replaced by myself. Soon I realized, three years into the venture, that the location in Long Island was not appropriate. I moved the company to New Jersey. We are now located in Edison, New Jersey, which was a big advantage to us in regards to import and distribution. Since I’ve been in charge we’ve more than quadrupled our sales. Riedel has been a brand in the United States for over thirty years. We have had an office here for over twenty-five years, but it was only in the last ten years that the brand truly started to grow and bloom. I was just here at the right time because Riedel is the wine glass company, we are surfing the success of the wine wave. More and more people are drinking wine and enjoying wine. If you talk to our partners in the bridal registry area, if it is the media or if it is the retail outlets, then Riedel is the number one brand now. Which means clearly there is the second generation of wine drinker in American for whom Riedel is brand and a must-have.

Johan Willemen and Tom Willemen (Belgium)
Willemen Groep
Willemen Groep was founded in 1999 by current CEO and owner Johan Willemen. He stems from a long family line of building contractors. His son Tom is also active in the company and will be his successor.
Willemen Groep comprises several companies active in the building sector, from suppliers and contractors to project developers. These companies complement each other to offer their clients a tailored solution. Willemen Groep is active in several areas of the building industry: civil engineering, industrial construction, residential and general utilities construction, and road construction.
Through several acquisitions, Willemen Groep is one of the largest 100% family-owned construction groups in Belgium today. The annual turnover increased from €220m in 2007 to €600m in 2012. A combination of acquisitions and organic growth of the Willemen Groep’s companies is responsible for this remarkable rise.
The key value for Willemen Groep is respect — respect for all stakeholders and, first and foremost, respect for its more than 2,000 employees. Because their labor and know-how are an essential asset, Willemen Groep continuously invests in education and innovation. To safeguard the future, Willemen Groep wants to realize sustainable, profitable growth. In this respect, Willemen Groep is currently broadening its horizon by exploring new markets and activities. Recent new activities include public-private partnerships and design-and-build projects, a building maintenance company and a company for operating public parking locations. Regarding new markets, Willemen Groep strongly believes in Africa. It is starting building projects in Congo and Ivory Coast and exploring possibilities in Morocco.
But it is also because we are a family business, which means that we can take long-term decisions and we do not have to worry about quarterly targets all the time. It gives us flexibility to expand.” “As a family business, we can look at the bigger picture. And we can act quickly because of the quick decision-making process that you get in a family business of our size.
More info in the link 

Eraí Scheffer (Brazil)
Grupo Bom Futuro
Eraí Maggi Scheffer, the oldest of seven brothers, was born on a small ranch in the south of Brazil. Before the ranch’s loan had been paid off, the family went through several difficulties and had to make some sacrifices, including not eating beef, until the last payment. After his father’s passing, Eraí took the lead of the business when he was only 17 years old. A few years later, he understood they needed to move to enhance productivity and scale. In 1989 they chose Mato Grosso, where the land was cheaper — but also, at that time, out in the wilderness. In order to maximize their capital, they decided to rent land and focus their energy on where they had the know-how — cultivation and operation. This was the beginning of Grupo Bom Futuro.
Today, Grupo Bom Futuro operates in agriculture, cattle, fish farming and energy businesses. Its operational model integrates the businesses in a value chain concept, which has brought the efficiency and productivity Eraí was looking for. The company sustains its leadership and growth through a relentless focus on investing in innovation, its operational model, genetics and applied technology. As a result, in 20 years, Grupo Bom Futuro has become the world’s largest producer of soy and national producer of cotton.
By building this remarkable story and sustainable business in a remote part of Brazil, Eraí promotes environmental awareness, education and health programs in local communities. This in turn brings commitment from employees, most of whom have been working in the company for more than a decade. As one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the country, Eraí is focused on enhancing the Brazil Government’s commitment to developing social programs and building the necessary infrastructure to meet the region’s growth.
The secret behind the good results of livestock  is the model of concentrate production at three of its farms, which act as centers of creation. In these places a system of integration between soybean crops and livestock is being implemented. Thus, the plots where soybean yield is considered low, after harvesting the grain viewed pastures. Because of the oilseed plant, soil is well corrected and fertilized and therefore more productive. "The soybean nitrogen fixed in the soil. Therefore need not apply nitrogen fertilizer to pasture. This reduces cost and increases productivity.'s Not that soybean fund the cattle, but it enables the best soil conditions. 
Here the link for more . In Portuguese.

Geoffrey Smith (Canada)
EllisDon Corporation
When Geoff Smith took over as EllisDon’s CEO in 1996, the company was losing money and near collapse, and its industry reputation was seriously tarnished. Today, revenues have increased seven-fold to CA$3.4b, and it has earned an average 24% return on equity for its shareholders over the last 15 years after paying out 25% of before-tax earnings (CA$160m over the same period) to its employees in profit-sharing bonuses. And the company has expanded operations to new markets within Canada and beyond its borders to the United States, the Middle East, the Caribbean and South America.
This spectacular turnaround came about through a complete transformation of the company’s approach to business and the services it provides — and, perhaps most important, through Geoff’s entrepreneurial spirit and unique business philosophy. His motto is “Real leadership means getting out of the way,” and EllisDon’s success shows just how true that is.
From the start, Geoff showed that he was not only willing but eager to push the boundaries of traditional thinking in the construction industry. Using his employees’ ideas as the source of his inspiration, he began broadening EllisDon’s activities well beyond the traditional construction sphere, gradually fashioning an in-house, comprehensive, risk-free offering for its clients in both the private and public sectors. Today, EllisDon offers guaranteed outcomes in design management, project finance, facility management, building systems and life cycle performance, among others — a business model unheard of in the industry.
EllisDon’s unconventional culture deserves much of the credit for this success. Its raison d’être is neither its shareholders nor its clients, but its people. From the start, Geoff pursued new ideas and ways of doing business based on the men and women, from the corner office to the high-rise derricks, who know from hands-on experience how to build.
EllisDon strives to maximize career achievement opportunities for its employees through a philosophy of freedom and trust. It established a generously structured equity plan that transferred 50% of the company’s ownership to its people. This philosophy has built trust and engagement with employees and clients alike.
Both EllisDon and Geoff generously give back to the community. The company annually donates 5% to 10% of its profits to charity and has an employee donation-matching program. Geoff has chaired several fundraising campaigns in the hospital and college arenas. He has been politically passionate throughout his life, most recently serving as Chair of the Ontario Liberal Fund.
I like how he keeps a blog that records his thoughts 
In the blog you write, you say the changes are 20 per cent inspiring and 80 per cent terrifying. Is that your mood?
When you read about this stuff, the first thing you think is how cool and how much fun it is. And then you think if you don’t do it right, you’re finished – not tomorrow, but maybe five to 10 years from now.
How did you know you had to change?
[About a decade ago] we chose to go a different way in these new public-private partnerships [EllisDon was a partner in building two major Ontario hospitals]. Most of our competitors chose to stay in the construction box, but we wanted to control our success and failure. That happens by moving into the financing box, and so we had to get into financing and facilities management. That changed our entire view: We got to think how a client thinks. We thought about cash flows and whether this building will operate well for 30 years. We wanted to control our destiny, and we thought there was money in it, too. Some clients didn’t like us in those other boxes, but we did it.

Jorge Nazer (Chile)
Grupo ALTO
Everything started with social entrepreneurship — with the idea of improving the life of millions of people by fighting against criminal acts.
This idea motivated Jorge Nazer to establish Grupo ALTO in 2005. He and a friend created an innovative business model focused on information, dissuasion and effective legal prosecution. With these three components, ALTO protects organizations’ assets from fraud and robbery, reducing loss and malpractice by more than 50% in 10 different sectors, including retail, health care, utilities, transportation and logistics.
ALTO began in a small town in the south of Chile with a small Walmart store. Now ALTO protects more than 3,000 stores, and Jorge leads a holding group of five companies in Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Spain. And ALTO is still growing!
Jorge is very conscious of his business’s growth and evolution. He invests 10% of the company’s revenues in innovation, and he makes sure that his team is aware that part of the company’s DNA is to never stop innovating and creating. That dedication is one of the reasons ALTO is in the Great Places to Work in Chile top 10.
In 2010, the Chilean Government invited Jorge to develop a strategy to reduce crime. Based on the ALTO model, in four years there has been a reduction of more than 1 million crimes. He also promotes entrepreneurship and in 2012 co-founded a non-governmental organization (NGO) to influence public policies to foster entrepreneurship in the region. Today that NGO has more than 20,000 members in three countries
As a newly minted lawyer in 2003, Jorge Nazer wanted to make a difference. Seeing how uncontrolled crime in Chile’s cities was eroding people’s quality of life, he decided to develop better approaches to reducing local crime rates.
He even visited New York City to study its “Broken Windows” approach, which advocated active prosecution of petty crimes such as vandalism and panhandling. But Nazer knew Chile’s justice system couldn’t pursue so many cases. So he decided to replace prosecution with marketing.
“Our system has three basic components,” Nazer says. “Get information about who the criminals are, and the victims; select a few cases to prosecute; and communicate the results with a tool we call Dissuasive Marketing” — to discourage other people from following anti-social paths.
But Nazer got nowhere trying to sell his solution to local governments. “They said it was ridiculous. But we knew we were doing the right thing. We knew we could change the culture.”
Undaunted, Nazer turned to another potential client group: supermarkets and other retailers that were the biggest victims of shoplifting. In 2005, he applied his model at one Walmart store in Chile’s southern region of Patagonia — and reduced losses due to theft by 50%. Walmart in Chile quickly signed up Nazer’s Grupo ALTO (which means stop) to work its magic in 50 stores.
Meanwhile, ALTO is expanding beyond retail, helping reduce healthcare fraud, for example, and discouraging fare-dodgers in public transit.
Even government has come around. In 2010, the Government of Chile hired Nazer to develop a national crime-reduction strategy. “In four years,” he says, “we’ve reduced street crimes by 25%, or almost one million cases.”
With more than 400 employees, ALTO has also become an analytics company. Clued in by the Brad Pitt movie Moneyball, which showed how the Oakland As baseball team became a winner by using statistical analysis, ALTO is now looking for patterns in the reams of incident data it receives from its clients. With this knowledge, ALTO can help clients make better decisions about where to locate new operations, and what kind of security systems to buy.
And it is incubating a business that studies social media to better understand consumer attitudes, especially complaints. Its clients include telecom firms that get two million complaints a month. “Who can possibly read all that?” Nazer asks. His next target: the banks, which wade through up to 40,000 complaints a month.
This is the impact he dreamed of a decade ago. “When we started, we were trying to help cities,” he says. “Now we are making money from this, a lot of money. But that was never our motivation. My ambition is to change the world, through safer neighborhoods and safer cities.”
Whatever country you’re in, Nazer insists, “every entrepreneur has to have an impact on society. You can’t run a company thinking only about how much money you are going to make. But if you seek to help other people, you will be a success.”
[Combination of psychology with business. ]

 Terry Sio (HK, Macau)
Rainbow Group
With MOP5,000 in borrowed money, Terry Sio set up her first Rainbow fashion store in 1979 to sell domestic-brand apparel. The Rainbow Group has since grown to become Macau’s largest distributor of luxury brands with nearly 200 fashion stores in more than 20 cities across Macau and Mainland China.
Terry has established a one-stop fashion kingdom. Against all odds and fueled by her tenacity and an unfailing passion for her vision, Terry managed to gain the distribution rights of first-tier international brands for the then-unknown Macau market.
In the 1990s, she had the foresight to explore markets in second- and third-tier cities in Mainland China, and Rainbow Group is now one of the largest and most developed brand agencies in those cities. In recent years, Rainbow Group has developed the Rainbow style of multi-brand stores and further diversified its business into shopping center management in Mainland China.
In addition to her contributions to the fashion industry, Terry established Rainbow Academy in 2005 to help increase the professionalism of retail salespeople. She considers driving Macau’s retail sector toward international standards as one of her missions.
Terry has won numerous awards at home and abroad. She received the Medal of Industry and Commercial Merit from the Macau SAR Government in 2006, and she was named one of the 25 Influential Chinese In Global Fashion by Forbes in 2011. She is a member of the Shanghai Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and chairperson of the Macau International Brand Enterprise Commercial Association.
“They will find it difficult to do fashion design. And yes, difficulties do exist. Some may have doubts halfway and say it is because no one tells them if things will work out. (…) No one can guarantee their success. They should be responsible for what they have chosen. Every success follows hardship.
“There is a long, long way to go, you have to seize the chance and own the dream.”
Her business philosophy is much like her fashion style: dynamic yet focused. 
What inspired you to start the Rainbow Group?
I have always felt a strong passion for fashion, and I decided on a career in fashion at an early age. My philosophy in life and in work is to never give up and to greet every challenge with an open mind and heart. From opening my first Rainbow Boutique to now having numerous boutiques in Macau, I’ve always made a point of understanding the consumer’s needs and incorporating personality and cultural heritage in everything I do.
What would you attribute your success to?
Success can only represent the past. I maintain a calm state of mind when I look back at my accomplishments. Bitterness and success are both sources of inspiration and encouragement. Life itself is the greatest wealth one will ever have. There is no absolute victory or failure; the most important thing is to believe in yourself and to enrich your life experiences.
 Here's the chinese version

Yang Guoping (China)
Dazhong Transportation (Group) Co., Ltd.
In 1988, Yang Guoping established a new taxi brand, Shanghai Dazhong, and assumed a leading role in the Shanghai Government’s implementation of taxi industry reform. Shanghai Dazhong became the nation’s first joint-stock enterprise in the taxi sector, and it was successfully listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange for both A and B shares in 1992. Dazhong now covers 15 cities and was recognized for its outstanding performance as an official service provider for the 2007 Special Olympics, the 2008 Olympic Games and 2010 Shanghai Expo events.
Under Yang’s 25 years of entrepreneurship, the Dazhong business has diversified into a conglomerate group that offers comprehensive services for the general public through three publicly listed companies — Dazhong Transportation, Dazhong Public Utilities and Jiaoda Onlly — with combined total market capitalization of approximately RMB18b. The Dazhong scope of services encompasses household gas supply, municipal work and public facility construction, finance and insurance, and health care. Its daily volume of taxi service carriage exceeds 1 million passengers, the gas supply business holds 40% market share in Shanghai, the microcredit business captures the largest market share in Shanghai, and its water and sewage treatment plants serve the entire Yangtze River Delta regions.
Dazhong has promoted greater innovations since its inception, such as creating the first taxi operator equipped with advanced technologies including taximeter, GPS satellite positioning, GPRS dispatching, smart card payment, and online and mobile reservation services. These products have enhanced its value-added services to customers while reducing carbon pollution and traffic. In 2008, it founded the Dazhong Universal Education Sponsorship Fund to help rebuild earthquake-damaged schools. In 2012, it sponsored charitable activities including the Blue Ribbon Campaign benefiting autistic children.


Here's his chinese interview
1989年岁末,公司成立一周年之际,当时的上海市市长朱基致信大众交通:“上海大众出租汽车公司的成立,为出租汽车行业树立了一面红旗。基本经验是‘从 严管理,风正务实’。希望你们继续努力,加强管理,改善服务,决不要停步。”自此,“从严管理”和“风正务实”就始终贯彻在杨国平的管理理念之中,成为他 带领“大众”提升服务质量、追求卓越的两面旗帜。
1989年初,上海爆发了一场从未有过的出租汽车争夺大战,但杨国平克服了阻力,顶住了压力,坚持走自己的路,以高质量的服务,站稳了脚跟,并开创上海出 租汽车行业的新风。现在,大众交通已经成为行业的一个标杆,大众交通以全新的服务规范,为“大众”立下了铁的规矩——“扬手即停、上客问路,电话预约、约 时不误,车辆整洁、礼貌待客,电脑计费、合理公道”。32字服务理念,开创了上海出租汽车行业服务的质量新里程,刮起了红色旋风。
因为在质量建设和管理方面的成就,杨国平获得了多项荣誉:1994年,当选上海首届十大杰出青年;1995年,当选全国第五届全国十大杰出青年企业 家;1996年,获得上海市拥军优属十佳模范称号;1998年,获上海市劳动模范称号;1999年,成为上海市国防教育先进个人;2000年,获上海市 “开发岗位,促进就业的好经理”称号;同年,获得全国劳动模范称号;2003年,他领导的“大众交通”荣获全国质量管理奖。

 Jiří Hlavatý (Czech Republic)
JUTA a.s.
Jiří Hlavatý joined JUTA in Dvůr Králové as a machine engineer straight from school in 1972. He has now been working 40 years for the JUTA brand, and before becoming director and then owner he occupied many different positions in the firm. Today he manages 14 factories and 2,000 employees.
The history of the traditional Czech firm JUTA goes back to the second half of the 19th century, when privately owned factories manufactured yarn, fabrics, bags and ropes from natural materials. After the 1989 Velvet Revolution, under the leadership of Jiří Hlavatý, JUTA became the largest textile company in the Czech Republic, with an annual turnover of almost CZK6b. More than 80% of the firm’s production is exported to 65 different countries. Today JUTA is mostly involved in the production of geo-textiles, hydro-insulation films and membranes for the construction industry. In Great Britain, where it owns a production plant, it is No. 1 on the market for hydro-insulation films.
In Jiří’s opinion, the outstanding quality of JUTA’s products and its flexibility, investment in technology, customer care and ongoing innovation are responsible for the firm’s good name. At present, JUTA owns 51 registered trademarks and patents in the Czech Republic and other European countries. One of the reasons why the firm invests in the latest technology is to offer its employees the chance to continue acquiring new professional skills and knowledge. His employees take precedence for Jiří. He looks after them and trains them as though they were his children.
Jiří is a proud native of Dvůr Králové and the entire region. Thanks to his personal involvement, the region has retained its grammar school education system. Good news at work is often enough to recharge his batteries. He is an active sportsman and happy to employ other sportspeople because they have a strong will and a desire to win. He is the proud sponsor of the Slovan Liberec Football Club.
His interview in Czech 

Henrik Topsøe and Bjerne S. Clausen (Denmark)
Haldor Topsøe A/S
Haldor Topsøe A/S is a Danish business icon that was founded in 1940 with a vision of researchers’ skills meeting with those of businessmen — fundamental research combined with a deep understanding of industrial needs would bring the benefits of catalysis to businesses worldwide. This “science to dollars” approach still lives on at the company, now headed by Henrik Topsøe, Chairman of the Board and the founder’s oldest son, and CEO Bjerne S. Clausen.
Seventy-four years later, catalysis is involved in more than 90% of the world’s industrial chemical processes. Haldor Topsøe is helping customers raise the sustainability and profitability of global energy production and industrial manufacturing on a global scale.
The company’s catalysts, technologies and plant design lie at the heart of efficient, sustainable industrial production, and its solutions are used in the production of half of the world’s fertilizers, helping the agricultural industry meet the global demand for food. In 2012, Haldor Topsøe launched an ambitious growth strategy based on its existing strengths and R&D potential.
Haldor Topsøe’s influence and unique results have been recognized worldwide, resulting in numerous awards and distinction, including the Grand Cross of the Order of Dannebrog and the Hoover Medal. The company was also named Engineer of the Century by the Danish Society of Engineers and one of Denmark’s 30 most successful export businesses.

Priit Rebane and Peeter  Rebane (Estonia)
BDG Holdings OÜ
Peeter and Priit Rebane started their entrepreneurship career in the 1990s, right after Estonia regained its independence. Today they are the owners of a leading entertainment business, BDG Holdings Ltd., that has created more than 1,000 jobs in the Baltic states.
In 1995, Peeter and Priit saw an opportunity in the Estonian entertainment industry. They kick-started their career by renovating an old movie theater in the heart of Tallinn to open a nightclub and cinema. As they started to book artists for their club, they soon found themselves in the concert promotion business. They have brought some of the world’s most famous artists to Estonia, including Madonna, Metallica, Cirque du Soleil, Robbie Williams and many more, leading to a partnership with Live Nation. For a typical concert, BDG employs more than 2,000 staff and brings tens of thousands of tourists into the country. In 2009, Peeter and Priit opened the entertainment center Solaris, which includes the first privately funded concert hall, a multiplex movie theater, and a variety of shops and restaurants.
The brothers then decided to take on the film industry. Two years ago they established The Factory, a film production company, and Peeter began developing his career as a film director. Today the company produces movies, documentaries, music videos and commercials. Among other interesting projects, they have produced and directed music videos for the Pet Shop Boys, produced the 2010 European Film Awards in Tallinn and made the live recording of the Robbie Williams Take The Crown Stadium Tour in 2013, which was shown in 1,400 movie theatres in 49 different countries across the world. They also produced and directed the documentary Robbie Williams: Fans Journey to Tallinn.
Peeter and Priit are not traditional entrepreneurs — they are cultural entrepreneurs in the creative arts industry. Their goal is to tell stories, create positive experiences and have a social impact through their work.

Mr. William Wolfram (Finland)
DealDash Oyj
William Wolfram, 21, was only 16 years old when he sensed a popular demand for a novel kind of e commerce concept and decided to found his third venture, DealDash.
Against the advice of mentors who warned that there was too much competition, William made a bold decision to launch the service in the US. Even though he had previously visited the US only two times, William had a strong conviction that his idea was far more fair to consumers than what existed in the marketplace, and he trusted that DealDash would benefit from the power of word of mouth in the digital age.
Today DealDash is a fun auction house and web store where more than 3 million customers complete more than 2 million transactions every day. Thanks to social media, a highly differentiated product offering and absolute operational integrity, DealDash has grown to become the largest player in its field and the world’s most talked about brand on Facebook, beating Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart. The company also employs patented bidding models, separating the site from its competitors.
During William’s time as CEO and majority shareholder, DealDash has almost quadrupled its revenues yearly, producing revenues of €34m and €2m in profit before taxes in 2012–13. Strategically speaking, the company aims to boost its phenomenal organic growth even further by expanding its customer base and entering foreign markets.
Although William quit school at 16 due to workload, he will soon graduate from Harvard’s three-year Owner/President Management Program. William also has helped many other young entrepreneurs, the Finnish Government has recognized him for his commitment to creating jobs for young people.
DealDash isn’t the sexiest of businesses. Essentially, it’s a twist on those shady penny auction sites, in which large groups of people bid for an amazing deal on a desirable product, such as an iPad. On such an “auction,” if 100 people bid $20 on an iPad, one of them will get the device at the bargain price but everyone else loses money. The site picks up the profit. It’s basically a lottery, and not one with good odds. In fact, Wolfram got the idea for DealDash about five years when he lost 50 Euros bidding for a Macbook on such a site. He wanted to make a risk-free version that was fairer to shoppers.
On DealDash, shoppers buy a bunch of credits, which typically go for between 10 and 13 cents each (the site says 60c, but there’s a rolling promotion that drops the price drastically). A shopper can then use each credit as a bid in an auction for a product. Every auction starts at $0.00 and each bid raises the price by 1 cent. There’s a countdown clock for each auction, but it gets reset every time a bid is placed. When the clock eventually runs out, the highest bidder wins the auction. The winner of the auction then gets to keep the item, which is usually 60 to 99 percent cheaper than retail. The losers can get all their bids back if they choose the “Buy It Now” option for the product, which is more or the less the same as what it would cost in a retail store. They only lose their bids if they choose not to buy anything.

 Pierre-Etienne Bindschedler (France)
In 1992, in the middle of a building industry crisis and at a time when the company needed major investment to revive its production capacity, Pierre-Etienne Bindschedler boldly took over Soprema, an independent family business founded in 1908, by buying out all the company’s shares from his grandfather.
In 20 years he has enabled the company to grow from a US$300m to a US$2.5b turnover, making it into a world leader in waterproofing, roofing and insulation systems. Between 2009 and 2012, the turnover increased by more than 35%. It generates 40% of its revenue outside France, and it aims to achieve a US$2.85b turnover by the end of 2014. Soprema currently has 5,200 employees across 90 countries, 34 manufacturing plants and 60 operating subsidiaries and over 4,000 distributors. To accelerate Soprema’s growth, over the past 12 years Pierre-Etienne has acquired 17 companies with additional expertise in waterproofing.
Pierre-Etienne is convinced that the building industry has a responsibility to preserve the interests of future generations. Therefore, Soprema has always led the way in sustainable manufacturing, becoming ISO 90010-registered in 1996 and the first company to be ISO 14001-certified in 1997. In its eco-friendly plants, manufacturing waste is recycled and rainwater is used for the cooling of machinery. In addition, Soprema has seven R&D centers working on reducing its products’ environmental impact and creating innovative sustainable materials.
Concerned by the employment levels in his region as well as the growing deficit of skilled laborers in the building industry, Pierre-Etienne has created a school to support vocational retraining for the unemployed. In September 2013, by donating US$3m to the Strasbourg University Foundation and US$900,000 to the University of Drummondville in Canada, he also proved its commitment to the emergence of new talents in the area.
When he became CEO of the company in 1993, Pierre-Etienne Bindschedler a new impetus to the company. Breaking with the past management, he embarked on an aggressive expansion strategy and new markets. His bet: innovation. He wants to be at the forefront of the idea that works. Surrounding himself with a younger team, he hired researchers and acquires centers R & D performers (now Soprema seven centers dedicated to research)

 Dr. Andreas Kaufmann and Alfred Schopf (Germany)
Leica Camera AG
Dr. Andreas Kaufmann’s dedication is unparalleled in the German optical industry. He has been a member of Leica Camera AG’s supervisory board since 2005, which he has chaired since July 2010. Dr. Kaufmann is also an active member of the advisory boards of various companies in Germany and Austria. Moreover, he is a sponsor of the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg and the Westlicht photo gallery in Vienna.
Alfred Schopf was a member of the supervisory board of Leica Camera AG from November 2009 to August 2010 and has been CEO of the company since August 2010. He is also an advisor on growth and technology initiatives in the new German federal states at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. In addition, he performs voluntary work of a social nature for various institutions and associations.
The two have played a decisive role in establishing the Leica brand as a modern icon of photography. Leica’s focus on essentials means that the emphasis is squarely on photographs. At photokina 2012 in Cologne, for example, Leica dedicated 70% of its 5,000-square-meter stand to first-rate exhibitions of internationally renowned photographers.
Leica Camera AGhas a tradition that is unique in Germany. In 1849, Carl Kellner founded the Optical Institute in Wetzlar, where he very successfully developed and produced microscopes. Building on the innovative power and inventions of Oskar Barnack, Leica is systematically working toward creating perfect tools that provide a very special view of things. In the history of photography, Leica is synonymous with images that have become ingrained in the global photographic memory.
Jon Fauer: Here’s a tough question. In the audience yesterday, I think I saw more limited edition, first edition Leicas than any other place on the planet. Collectors and photographers were comparing them. These guys are absolute fanatics. But does this improve the quality of the pictures they’re taking?
Andreas Kaufmann: You know, when you want to have something beautiful, it means you care about things. That means you would probably also care deeply about photography. It doesn’t mean if you have a cheap camera you can’t take great pictures. But these Leica users love what they’re doing. And they love to individualize what they have. It also means they love to take pictures in a certain way. They love to learn from the great masters. I think it’s about passion. Curious, when you translate passion into German, the word is Leidenschaft. This is a word that has a few different meanings. Because Leiden means suffering.

Marco Veremis (Greece)
Upstream S.A.
Marco Veremis has merged perseverance and resolve with his belief that the most significant drive in life is creativity to produce one of mobile marketing’s greatest global success stories.
Marco began his career working for leading advertising agencies in London. In 2001, when digital marketing was booming, Marco envisioned the impact that the mobile phone revolution would have. This led him to set up a mobile marketing company in Athens, delivering a technology platform that would allow large, fast-moving consumer goods companies to market to consumers via mobile phones.
Driven by the rapid adoption of mobile marketing, Marco managed to transform what was a €600,000 business in 2001 into one of the fastest-growing and strongest players in its industry, with a projected 2013 turnover of some €75m and a 50% growth rate of system revenues to €150 million.
Upstream’s unique marketing technology platform, MINT, delivers the highest conversion rates to purchase — greater than 10%. The company has marketed to more than 600 million consumers through their mobile phones, converting over 65 million to paying customers.
Today, Upstream has a global strategy focused on emerging markets, trusted relationships with mobile operators in 40 countries, offices in 8 (Greece, Brazil, Italy, Nigeria, Romania, Singapore, UAE, UK) and 30 billion recorded mobile interactions. With its international activities amounting to 99% of total sales, this “mobile monetization powerhouse” is one of the five leading global players.
Marco’s vision is for Upstream to become the leading partner for blue-chip companies looking to market to consumers in the emerging world, as mobile is the only marketing medium of scale in most emerging markets.
Marco is a fervent supporter of — and investor in — start-ups. He sits on the boards of several organizations and serves as an Endeavor mentor. He has received numerous awards that recognize his creativity, entrepreneurialism and business success.
Upstream has not just thrived while based in Greece but has also spun out other successful businesses. Why is this?
At the end of the day, every company is a small community of people and I believe that their traits and qualities are formed in the context in which they operate. It is commonly said in Greece that Greeks do better abroad, why is that? Because when abroad, they operate in a framework that is far better than that which in many cases exists in our country. Something similar happens with a business, it is a microcosm of society. When this society is healthy and meritocratic and rewards talent, it becomes an incubator of capable people. I think this is what has happened with Upstream in practice. From our very first day, we created a group of extremely talented people. As a result, very capable people who can thrive, and at some point move on to do something of their own, join our company every day.

Balázs Vinnai (Hungary)
IND Group
IND Group is a leading innovator in digital banking channels solutions. After a successful acquisition in February 2014, the company joined Misys, the world’s leading financial technology company.
Dr. Balázs Vinnai already had great dreams during his university studies. In 1997, the 20-year-old entrepreneur founded a web design firm with his friends. This company became one of the biggest banking front-end providers on the international financial market. But Dr. Vinnai had not only started a business — he decided to create his own brand. From the very beginning his team set international goals and was soon able to compete successfully with the best players in the market.
Dr. Vinnai learned from his father, who also has his own business, and he improved his communication skills when studying law. One of his main strengths is the ability to inspire his team and convince colleagues to believe in the wildest ideas.
The real breakthrough happened in 2003 with the acquisition of the German internet banking developer, Brokat AG. Since then, IND Group has focused on developing its product portfolio. IND Labs researches digital banking trends and generates the most innovative solutions for digital banking.
During IND Group’s history of more than 17 years, success has been continuous. IND has received 45 awards and forms of recognition, and the company has 230 employees in 18 countries serving more than 40 clients with 8 million end users globally. Joining Misys will help make the company’s vision a reality faster by accelerating the development of digital channels solutions.
Shaping trends, pursuing innovations and our enthusiasm in e-finance are what make us capable of creating and delivering state-of-the-art solutions. 
The most successful companies are those that build up their structure, processes and products purely from the customer perspective. People don't want to do banking. They want to live their lives, managing their goals and achieving their dreams in the most comfortable way. We wanted to create a mobile bank that helps them do just that, quickly and easily.

 Uday Kotak (India)
Kotak Mahindra Bank
In the early 1980s, when India was a closed economy and economic growth was muted, it was unthinkable for someone coming from a middle-income family to refuse a lucrative campus job with Unilever. But such was Uday Kotak’s belief in himself from youth. From a seed capital of less than US$250,000 (per 1986 conversion rates) borrowed from family and friends, he has adroitly led a bill-discounting start-up into a financial services conglomerate with assets of US$19b, a customer base of 12.5 million and the fourth-largest private bank by market capitalization in India with nearly 600 branches.
Kotak Mahindra Bank (KMB) is regarded as one of the most efficient, high-performing banks in India, built on the principles of simplicity and prudence. Uday remains unfazed by market euphoria, and his “basics of banking” approach has helped ensure that the loan book is of high quality and the bank is highly capitalized. This market position is aided by his strong focus on people. A 25,000-strong organization today, Kotak Mahindra Group (US$2.8b group revenue) is recognized as one of the foremost employers in India.
In a journey spanning nearly three decades, Uday’s sharp business acumen, innovative mindset and path-breaking actions have not only helped the company grow to this scale, but they have also earned tremendous respect. The Kotak brand is synonymous with investments across the financial services spectrum, buoyed by its campaign: “Think Investments — Think Kotak.”
Uday is one of the country’s most well-known names today, not only in financial services but also among Indian companies overall. His influence and integrity is manifested by the fact that his is the only non-banking finance company to have been awarded a bank license by India’s central bank to date. He has received several national and international awards including recognition as a “Global Leader of Tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum. He has a strong focus on community development and inclusive growth, which is reflected by the group’s initiatives to provide low-cost services to rural customers and its welfare programs.
We are very focused. We believe our core business model is concentrated in India, diversified financial services. We are very focused on building a long term stable, sustainable banking franchise to serve savers and investors across India and across the world who are interested in India.

 Johannes Suriadjaja (Indonesia)
PT Surya Semesta Internusa Tbk.
After graduating from school in the US, Johannes Suriadjaja came back to Indonesia and worked at Chase Manhattan Bank for several years. In 1992, he decided to join his father’s business, PT Surya Semesta Internusa Tbk. (SSIA), which was first established in 1971 as real estate developer PT Multi Investments Limited.
With his educational and banking background, Johannes helped his father to rescue SSIA’s troubled business in 1994 by performing a management-leveraged buyout of its major shareholder and incorporating the construction business into SSIA. After helping to take the company public in 1997, Johannes finally took control of SSIA. Under his leadership, he created strategies to develop the company by managing its sustainability while simultaneously pushing for innovation. Today, SSIA has diversified and continues to seize market share in its three main businesses: property development, construction and hospitality.
Under Johannes’ leadership, SSIA has undertaken a variety of new projects, including a sustainable industrial township, the ultra-high-end Banyan Tree Ungasan Hotel and Resort in Bali, and the largest toll-road project in Indonesia with an estimated project cost of US$1.2b. After 42 years in operation, SSIA currently has an excellent reputation. With its nine subsidiaries, SSIA’s net income has increased almost fortyfold from 2009 to 2012. SSIA’s property business unit has received several awards from the Indonesian Government, and it was also named one of the 50 Best Companies in Indonesia in 2012 by Forbes Indonesia magazine.
Committed to promoting education, Johannes initiated grants/sponsorship to third-parties, as well as to internal employees’ children in order to foster creativity and promote community involvement. He has also initiated the internship programs for young individuals who have strong desire for knowledge in various business sectors.

Patrick Joy (Ireland)
Suretank Group

Our world economies would grind to a halt if not for oil. Suretank not only helps to keep the oil flowing, but it keeps our world safe doing it. As founder and Executive Chairman of Suretank, Patrick Joy has led the company to become the world’s largest manufacturer of offshore transport tanks for chemicals, helicopter fueling and acids. With a 62% market share, Suretank is globally recognized as the leader in this product category.
Suretank was Patrick’s third attempt to be his own boss and to control his own destiny. In an industry where clients demand perfection and stability, Patrick’s ambition and innate ability to build strong relationships with suppliers and customers meant Suretank could grow quickly and expand its global footprint.
Over the last four years, Suretank has seen spectacular growth in its sales, from €28m in 2010 to €71m in 2013. Patrick’s strategy and business plan is to more than double sales in the next five years to €190m. Half of this growth will be organic, with the other half derived from strategic acquisitions and new product development.
Growth to date has been driven by a number of key factors. Patrick has been shrewd in establishing strategic alliances with both suppliers and customers, and he has been at the forefront in promoting and driving offshore industry safety standards worldwide. Importantly, he has imbued into his company a culture of customer caring and a dedication to constant innovation. Patrick’s determination to improve existing products and safety standards while ensuring increased value for customers is the cornerstone of Suretank’s success.

Fulvio Montipò (Italy)
Interpump Group S.p.A.
After completing his technical studies, Fulvio Montipò obtained his grade in social sciences while working. The son of emigrants, he founded Interpump in 1977 with only €1,250 in capital and a compelling dream to change the world of pumps.
At the beginning of the 1980s, Fulvio debuted a technically revolutionary pump that forever changed the history and evolution of this important product. Interpump soon became a market leader, consolidating through the acquisition of important historical brands. And in 1999, he decided to diversify beyond water and dedicated the company to hydraulic components.
Today, Interpump is an international industrial group that has shown spectacular growth rates in record time. The company has 25 production plants and 4,000 employees throughout the world. The budget for 2014 foresees an approximate turnover of US$1b, and the growth plan over the next three years is greater than 50%. In fact, Interpump has never closed a balance sheet with negative results.
Both the Italian and international press have always held up Interpump as an example of management and transparency.

Yasuharu Ishikawa (Japan)
At the early age of 14, Yasuharu Ishikawa dreamed of having his own clothing shop. When he was 23, he made his dream a reality with a small retail store of just 13 square meters.
Five years later, Ishikawa recognized an opportunity for change and managed the transition to a specialty store retailer of private label apparel (SPA) business model. This was the turning point for success. CROSS COMPANY is now poised for total sales volume of US$950m.
Ishikawa believes there are two main factors for the momentous, rapid growth over the past 19 years. One is speedy management that rivals cannot replicate, and the other is the success of diversity management, demonstrated by the fact that the ratio of female managers at CROSS COMPANY has reached 48%.
Ishikawa also has earned many achievements in terms of his social contributions. He has personally hosted a special award for young managers in the region of Japan where he was raised with the goal of encouraging economic revitalization, and a number of local governments and company managers have placed high expectations and great confidence in him to help revive their communities. In addition, he emphasizes the development of “fair supply chain management,” an innovative method whereby the concept of fairness is valued and reinforced throughout the supply chain process, including ensuring safe working environments and sustainable material procurement and production.
Ishikawa is eager to build on his success, envisioning a future in which CROSS COMPANY becomes the top apparel company in the world.

Sharif Nabulsi and Samer Halawa (Jordan)
Founded in 1996 by Sharif Nabulsi and Samer Halawa, Globitel is a leading telecom solutions provider offering a dynamic suite of converged services. From the company’s humble beginnings with only 4 employees, Globitel today boasts more than 120 employees with offices in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
After being part of a family-owned business specializing in telecommunications, Sharif joined forces with Samer, who was working with a financial information service provider at the time, to start their new venture, Globitel. Jordan and the Arab world were not known to be exporters of technology. Sharif and Samer saw this as an opportunity, and with a lot of hard work and persistence, they were able to convince customers of their ability to compete with international technology providers.
Today, the company has a portfolio of more than 40 telecom products, and its global footprint covers more than 40 countries across the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Eastern Europe. Globitel’s solutions are widely used by the region’s largest telecommunication providers, including Saudi Telecom, Zain Group, Etisalat, MTN and many more. In addition, the company’s products serve more than 500 million end users from over 50 mobile operators.
The company’s success is due to the founders’ entrepreneurial mindset instilling a spirit of teamwork and innovation, combined with management and marketing skills. As a result, Globitel offers an inclusive, diverse workplace where employees can contribute and reach their full potential.
Globitel believes that success creates more responsibilities, so helping the community and giving back have always been priorities. Globitel supports many charity organizations, especially those dedicated to orphans, cancer and the protection of nature.

Jennifer Riria (Kenya)
Kenya Women Holding (KWH) Group
If one is talking about services that empower women and have the greatest impact, not just on the women themselves but also on their families and the community, then Dr. Jennifer Riria, Group CEO of Kenya Women Holding (KWH) Group, is the best example.
In 1991, Dr. Riria was brought on board to help revive Kenya Women Finance Trust (KWFT). The organization was technically insolvent, with accumulated bad debts of KES2m (US$23,000), a dejected donor community and no lender willing to sink any additional funds into the organization. Through Dr. Riria’s stewardship and leadership over the last 23 years, KWFT has transformed into the first regulated, best practice deposit-taking microfinance institution — and now a bank — providing microcredit, savings and insurance, and life-enhancing interventions. KWFT is currently working with 900,000 women, a staff of 2,800, US$1.3b in loans disbursed to date and an average loan size of US$550.
Dr. Riria has spent all her adult life building and contributing to systems that support women empowerment and development. She is a distinguished microfinance banker and practitioner, researcher and gender specialist, and she has served in many leadership roles for which she has been recognized locally and internationally. She has been recognized by the Kenya Government for her significant contribution in streamlining governance issues, and she serves as the chair of Women’s World Banking, the Association of Microfinance Institutions, the Africa Microfinance Action Forum and the TUVUKE Initiative for a Peaceful and Fair Electoral Process in Kenya, among others.
Dr. Riria has been identified as an icon by HP and Building Schools for Africa.

 Chinkyu Huh (Korea)
Chin-Kyu Huh, a pioneer in the parts and components industry in Korea, first founded ILJIN Material Industries in 1968. For more than 40 years, he has drawn on his experience as an engineer to aggressively and passionately dedicate himself to developing the nascent domestic parts and components industry, thereby contributing to Korea’s growth in the high-technology sector.
Through intensive research and development, his hard work has resulted in the production of an advanced parts and components industry. Among myriad examples, a few important innovations include power distribution hardware, seamless pipes, industrial synthetic diamonds and electrodeposited copper foil for PCB, which has ranked the company as one of the world’s top three producers of such products.
Chin-Kyu’s most noteworthy success has been in the field of touchscreen display technology. Although he was a latecomer to this market, his keen insight into the future of smartphone technology coupled with his acumen for recognizing potential high-growth enterprise fostered radical progress for ILJIN. Since 2008, sales have increased 157-fold with annual sales of nearly US$700m.
ILJIN’s business ethos is largely manifested in its corporate philosophy: “focus on vital domestic work that other companies are incapable of doing.” Through the application of this vision, ILJIN Group has continued its remarkable growth while producing the highest-quality technological products.
In the 21st century, an era dominated by the fight for commercial dominance, Chin-Kyu believes that a strong scientific presence is the key to empowering a nation and its youth. Through various scholarship programs and by providing funding to the National Academy of Engineering of Korea, Chin-Kyu continues to support this vision, helping to contribute to the social development of the community that has bolstered ILJIN over the last 40 years.

Markus Kaiser (Liechtenstein)
Kaiser AG
KAISER AG, Europe’s largest manufacturer and technology leader of sewer-cleaning vehicles, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013. The company operates worldwide and also occupies a leading position in the market for mobile walking excavators. In 2004, Markus Kaiser acquired the majority interest in KAISER through a share purchase and took over as the family enterprise’s CEO and third-generation leader.
Markus was key to KAISER’s successful repositioning. From 2001, the two company sites in Liechtenstein and Austria went through economic difficulties, but the company was turned around by 2006. This achievement was all the more remarkable as it runs contrary to the general development within the industry, and its origin is not attributable to positive market dynamics.
Reorganization and process optimization were not the only priorities. The general development of the company was driven forward at the same time. For example, the company wanted to establish a production facility in Eastern Europe to expand its strategic potential, and KAISER Slovakia was founded in 2007. This site’s development has also contributed toward strengthening the position of the Liechtenstein plant. Each site focuses on manufacturing products that make full use of its specific advantages.
To strengthen the company’s international market position, Markus began to systematically examine the possibilities of various acquisitions in 2009. In June 2011, KAISER acquired 100% of the shares in the Finnish company Eur-Mark, a leading manufacturer of sewer-cleaning vehicles in Scandinavia. Further acquisitions are currently under review.
KAISER also continues to set new benchmarks with its technology, as demonstrated in 2013 when the company received one of the most prestigious prizes in the construction machine sector: the Bauma Innovation Award.
Prior to becoming CEO of KAISER, Markus Kaiser taught at the Landesgymnasium Vaduz and lectured in Economics and Business Administration at the University of Liechtenstein.

 René Elvinger (Luxembourg)
Cebi International S.A.
Cebi International S.A., based in Luxembourg, is the holding company of the Cebi Group, which is composed of 10 production plants in 7 countries. Cebi specializes in the production of components for the automotive industry and figures among the global leaders in many areas, including washer systems, micro-motors and temperature sensors. Cebi supplies its products to all major car manufacturers as well as to household appliance manufacturers.
With a turnover of €375m, the group showed a confirmed performance locally and globally despite a difficult economic environment. Automotive group sales increased by 6% in 2013, despite a continuing drop in the European markets, which demonstrates strong growth in new market segments.
Cebi CEO René Elvinger, showing courage and a large sense of risk, undertook a management buyout of the group in 2011 at the age of 60. He successfully financed the takeover and transformed the group into a high-performing, innovative international business that employs more than 2,500 people worldwide.
Cebi’s business model is built on product quality and diversification, customer fidelity, efficient cost management and innovation that is reinforced by the creation of R&D centers of excellence throughout the group. Since 2011, René and the Cebi management team have led the companies as one group instead of operating them autonomously, as they were before the buyout. This change has been positive, as reflected in the general spirit of the employees, the success of decisions in different fields and the group’s increasing results.
This well-balanced management strategy combines René’s personal steering philosophy with a participative management approach that fosters trust and recognition within the Cebi Group. Clients can rely on his extensive 37 years of technical and industrial experience as new ideas and competencies are brought in by specialized teams.
René is passionate and committed to seeing industry reborn in the region — he strongly believes that Luxembourg is not just about finance. He is involved in several professional associations aimed at developing the sector, and he is convinced that industry’s future lies in promoting entrepreneurship to the younger generations.

 Dr. Boon Keat Ngau (Malaysia)
Dialog Group Berhad
Born in China in 1948, Dr. Boon Keat Ngau emigrated to Malaysia at the age of 10. He joined his mother, who had escaped communist China as a refugee a year earlier, and his Malaysian father, leaving behind a life of hunger and political persecution.
An aspiring entrepreneur who learned from his mother that one must take risks to succeed, Dr. Ngau quit his stable job with PETRONAS and co-founded DIALOG, an oil and gas services provider, in 1984 with just US$30,000. He grew DIALOG to where it is today — a Malaysian publicly listed company with a market capitalization of more than US$2.4b market and 2,600 personnel in 12 countries.
Under Dr. Ngau’s visionary leadership, DIALOG achieved year-on-year record growth with revenue growing to US$690m in 2013, a 1,200% jump compared to its performance 10 years ago. DIALOG has also delivered an impressive 27% compounded annual growth rate of dividends since its listing on Malaysia’s stock exchange in 1996. In addition to providing oil and gas services, DIALOG invests in tank terminals and marginal and mature oil fields. The company is currently developing Southeast Asia’s first deepwater petroleum terminal in Pengerang, Malaysia. This 5-million-square-meter storage facility will serve as a catalyst to propel Pengerang to become a regional petroleum and petrochemical hub.
Inspired by his childhood suffering, in 2009 Dr. Ngau and his wife, Jean, founded the MyKasih (“MyLove”) Foundation. A welfare organization aimed at alleviating poverty, MyKasih runs unique welfare programs that leverage an efficient cashless payment system, developed by DIALOG’s subsidiary company, to drive welfare distribution to the underprivileged with transparency and governance. MyKasih has helped close to 200,000 families in Malaysia and has recently expanded its programs to a neighboring country.

 Adrián Glief Cervantes Covarrubias (Mexico)
Against all odds and after flunking out of 16 different schools, Adrián Glief Cervantes Covarrubias decided that he didn’t belong in the system so he left to build his own. He created a technology-based ecosystem that seamlessly integrates medical service and technology, surgical material and financial service procurement. This business model is changing how operating rooms (ORs) are run and creating a new paradigm in the health care sector.
After opening and closing his share of failed OR-related businesses, Adrián and his partner Samantha finally understood that sustainable OR management would only be possible if they mastered the anesthesia procedure. So they created Medicus on the basis of one simple yet innovative concept: bring patients the right technology with the right drugs and the right surgical material.
Medicus has become one of the top OR managers in the world, and along the way it not only has achieved impressive cost reductions in surgical procedures, but it has also provided a powerful system for hospitals to plan their demand, reduce procedure times and develop new technologies for ORs. All of these benefits have ultimately led to improvements in the quality of patient care — so much so that most patients experience a 30% faster recovery when their anesthesia procedures are optimized. During the past 10 years, Medicus has enjoyed an average annual sales growth of 60%. Medicus expects to take its business international in the near future.
Adrián is proud of the social impact inherent in the business model of Medicus, as it has achieved reductions in surgical delays, often from 12 months to 1 month. This is why Adrián is quick to point out, “My job has meaning because each day I wake up knowing I can change the world.”

Chris Ouwinga (Netherlands)

Chris Ouwinga dared to take risks at a very young age and has built UNIT4 from scratch. Under his impressive leadership, UNIT4 has developed into a global software company, employing 4,300 people in 26 countries.
Chris is a typical self-taught man and self-made entrepreneur. His parents were barge masters who taught him how to read and write, enabling him to follow many high school-level written courses and learn about technology to satisfy his curiosity. His lack of formal education makes his success even more admirable. After a year in the army, Chris started his career at computer company MAI. In 1980, together with other MAI employees, Chris set up UNIT4.
Although UNIT4 has known difficult times in its early, Chris never gave up as he could see its potential. Since 1998, UNIT4 has been listed at NYSE Euronext Amsterdam. Chris was the driving force during the IPO process. Of all companies that went public from 1998 to 2005, UNIT4’s share price has performed the best.
Product innovation is key to UNIT4’s growth. Using its product architecture and thorough knowledge of a large number of vertical markets, UNIT4 helps its clients to respond early and alertly, as well as to effectively anticipate change.
Chris also finds it important that his people be given the chance to develop. He has a clear vision and the ability to set boundaries that allow others to operate in a creative and innovative manner. He creates an atmosphere in which these qualities can flourish.

Rod Drury (New Zealand)

Rod Drury, New Zealand’s most prominent serial entrepreneur, surpassed all expectations in 2013. His latest venture, Xero — the cloud-based global accounting software company described as “beautiful” — grew its share price by 478%, valuing it at over NZ$5b and making it New Zealand’s second largest firm by market capitalization.
Xero recently raised a further US$180m in capital from US investors, including venture capital firm Matrix Partners and Facebook billionaire and PayPal founder Peter Thiel. In addition to providing a significant endorsement of the business, such infusions effectively underwrite Xero’s global growth strategy.
And Xero is growing fast. Rod’s 600 staff members are now spread throughout New Zealand, Australia, the US and UK, and 60% of Xero’s NZ$50m annualized Software-as-a-Service revenue now comes from offshore accounts. To put Rod’s achievements in context, if Xero were a US-based company and a per capita multiple were applied to market capitalization, it would rank as the fourth-largest company in the US — ahead of Microsoft. As he says, “We aim to be the Facebook of small business software.”
Xero is not Rod’s first entrepreneurial success story. In 1995 he co-founded Glazier Systems, which specialized in developing systems for Microsoft Windows, and sold it four years later to Advantage Group. His next venture was AfterMail, an email business that he sold for NZ$45m to fund Xero. Rod was also a board member and part of the TradeMe success story when it sold for NZ$750m.

 Austin Avuru (Nigeria)
SEPLAT Petroleum Development
Company Ltd.

Austin Avuru is a key player in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. He started his career with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), but he left in 1992 to become a technical manager-cum-Deputy COO of a start-up business. This step triggered his entrepreneurship skills and helped to launch a growing business empire.
Buoyed by his huge appetite for value creation, in 2002 Austin assembled an array of industry professionals to form Platform Petroleum Limited as its pioneer Managing Director. In response to Shell’s decision to divest its interest in some oil blocks in Nigeria, Austin worked with another Nigerian independent company, Shebah Exploration and Production Company to form Seplat Petroleum Development Company Limited (SEPLAT) in 2009.
Following its formation, SEPLAT acquired a 45% interest in three oil blocks from Shell Nigeria, Total and Agip. With about 300 highly motivated employees, SEPLAT has achieved a steady gross production ramp‐up from a monthly average of about 14 thousand barrels per day (Mbpd) in August 2010 to about 60Mbpd in May 2013. The implied value of SEPLAT’s recent equity investments is in the neighborhood of US$1b. SEPLAT offers health programs, scholarships for more than 600 students and several grants to schools, in addition to providing portable water and electricity to host communities.
A geologist by training, Austin is an accomplished industry writer and a resource professional for major national and international conferences.

 Halvard Aas, Johan Aas and Olav Aas (Norway)
Aas Mekaniske Verksted AS

Aas Mek. Verksted AS was founded in 1911 by Johan Rasmussen Aas. Today the shipyard is owned and operated by the third generation — brothers Halvard, Johan and Olav Aas. Historically, the company has built fishing vessels for coastal and deep-sea fishing fleets, but in recent years it has specialized in the development and construction of wellboats — special vessels that circulate seawater so live fish, mainly salmon and trout, can be transported over long distances.
Aquaculture is one of Norway’s most important export industries, and the country is one of the world largest exporters of seafood. Aas Mek. Verksted has evolved to become an important contributor to modern aquaculture, and today it is a world leader in the innovation, development and production of wellboats.
The brothers have contributed to the innovation and development of the aquaculture industry in Norway, and they have developed a technologically superior shipyard. In addition, the company offers new-building, design and construction services, as well as repairs and maintenance on most vessels. Its in-house, world-class designers and constructors continuously develop good solutions in close cooperation with their customers.
Aas Mek. Verksted has more than 50 employees, and in 2012 it had turnover revenue of US$85m, a more than a 100% increase since 2010. Since 2003, the business has had an average annual growth in its turnover by 26%, and profit performance is also very solid

Ben Chan (Philippines)
Suyen Corporation

A passion for design and aesthetics drives Ben Chan’s creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. He spent years studying and polishing his craft overseas before returning to the Philippines to venture into fashion design and retail. In 1985, he and his sister opened a children’s clothing line in a department store that, unfortunately, was destroyed in a fire. Undaunted by this loss, Ben saw an opportunity to launch a new fashion line when the store reopened in 1987: BENCH/.
BENCH/ began as a men’s T-shirt brand and is the flagship brand of Suyen Corporation. Ben singlehandedly managed everything from clothing and boutique design to marketing and product development. Marked by innovative marketing strategies and inspired designs, his work has transformed BENCH/ into a top-of-mind brand.
From one outlet in a department store, Suyen has grown to more than 1,000 stores around the world, including China, the Middle East, the US and Guam. And BENCH/ has expanded to include jeans, undergarments, accessories, cosmetics, hair and body care products, and snacks. In addition to BENCH/, Suyen also owns several Philippine brands and the distribution rights to numerous established international brands such as American Eagle Outfitters, Cotton On, Charles & Keith, Patchi and PAUL.
For building a global Filipino brand, Ben has received several Philippine and international marketing and retail awards. BENCH/ has also been presented with various awards in the Philippine fashion and retail industries.

Andrzej Wiśniowski (Poland)

Andrzej Wiśniowski is a founder and owner of WIŚNIOWSKI, a leading manufacturer of gates, fences, doors and windows. Founded in 1989, the company is now a strong market leader. WIŚNIOWSKI ensures stable employment conditions and comprehensive benefits packages for more than 1,100 employees.
WIŚNIOWSKI is the most recognizable brand in Poland in the category of doors, gates and fences. Its market advantage includes advanced technologies, an innovative approach, cutting-edge design and a business vision extending far into the future.
Andrzej’s motto as CEO is that nothing is permanent in the company but change. Consequently, he invests in innovative solutions and state-of-the-art technology. Process-oriented management and a flat organizational structure determine the company’s development, ensuring flexibility and a readiness to respond quickly to market requirements. By following ISO 9001 Integrated Management System and OHSAS 18001: 2007 standards, WIŚNIOWSKI believes in a high-quality work environment, production process repeatability and continuous product quality improvement.
Over 25 years of business activity, WIŚNIOWSKI has developed its distribution network based on clear and transparent business relationships that hold trust as a core value. Today, the company has more than 2,000 sales points in Poland and almost 400 in Europe.
As a brand founder, Andrzej has determined the company success. The company’s position today reflects the owner’s engagement and leadership skills, as well as the creativity of its employees.

Manuel de Mello (Portugal)
Nutrinveste/Sovena Group

Nutrinveste/Sovena Group has its roots in what once was the largest Portuguese industrial group — CUF. The group had been nationalized in the 1970s, but the de Mello family was later given back a fraction of what had been forcibly taken from them. The family committed to rebuild, and Manuel de Mello assisted his father and uncle in the gradual recovery that ensued.
Under Manuel’s leadership, starting in the 2000s, Nutrinveste/Sovena Group began an aggressive internationalization process. He had recognized that sustainability required scale and redesigned the company’s strategy accordingly. Being relevant in regional markets was not enough; they had to focus where they could be global leaders. But applying his strategy would soon result in the most difficult decisions of his career — selling companies he had been taught to cherish as family.
With relentless perseverance, Manuel oversaw a systematic journey of international acquisitions and partnerships that resulted in Nutrinveste/Sovena Group becoming the second largest player in the global olive oil market with US$1.6b in turnover, more than 1,100 employees, operations in 7 countries and sales in 70.
Manuel sets an example by listening to his team’s views and involving them in the decision-making process. The company lives by his own values of integrity and trust, which have resonated with stakeholders and business partners and have become one of the hallmarks of his attitude in business.
Through strategy, innovation and branding, Nutrinveste/Sovena Group continues to pursue Manuel’s vision of “bringing olive oil to everyone, anywhere in the world.”

 Dr. Alexander Galitsky (Russia)
Almaz Capital
A deep understanding of both the business and technology worlds is required to launch and maintain a revolutionary idea. Few people have it. Dr. Alexander Galitsky is one of them. A lifelong pioneer across many industries, Alexander is recognized as the father of the Russian venture capital industry. He was the first to invest in high-tech startups in Russia in 2004, and in 2008, he launched Almaz Capital.
Alexander was born in the Ukraine. At the young age of 17, he moved to Moscow to study Physics. He earned a PhD in Computer Science shortly before he became a leader in the Soviet space industry, accumulating numerous patents and managing more than a thousand employees.
After the fall of the USSR, Alexander launched many high-tech companies that pioneered Wi-Fi and VPN technologies. He lived and worked in the US, the Netherlands and Russia. Recognizing the global potential and opportunity for Russian innovation and entrepreneurs, in 2004 Alexander decided it was time to leverage his expertise to help bring Russian tech to the world. With Almaz, which manages US$300m, he proved the efficacy of his model. Alexander and his team invested in 22 companies, including Yandex, QIK, Vyatta, Parallels and Acumatica, which in total employ more than 2,500 people and have a combined market capitalization of more than US$2b (excluding the internet giant Yandex).
Alexander has lived through much historical change and has worked and traveled worldwide. As a board member of the Skolkovo Foundation, he demonstrates his vision to further engage Russian intellect and technology to create value in international markets. In addition, he is a founding member of the B612 Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting Earth from asteroid strikes.

Kaswara Al-Khatib (Saudi Arabia)
U-Turn Entertainment
Kaswara Al-Khatib, Chairman and CEO of UTURN Entertainment, is widely recognized as a media and production pioneer in Saudi Arabia. In 2002 he established FullStop, a small independent creative boutique agency that is now a full-fledged communications group with advertising, digital and social media, film production, photography and 3D studios, and today he runs UTURN, the leading online entertainment network with an annual turnover of US$14m and a valuation of US$40m.
Kaswara has always been associated with his passion toward developing the media industry in Saudi Arabia. Since the early 1980s, the country’s media industry has been a gray and risky business for Saudis to step into as foreign media giants dominated it. Thus it was almost impossible for local creative people to thrive.
Driven by the challenge of helping Saudis enter and compete in this industry, Kaswara started his boutique creative agency, focusing on local talents and insights with high-end creativity. That dedication has earned it “Creative Agency of the Year” honors for the past three years. Spotting additional untapped opportunities, Kaswara founded several other media-related companies. One of these is Made in Saudi Films, a film production company that created a new industry as previously almost all production was done outside Saudi Arabia.
His recent venture, UTURN, evolved from a content-maker to an online entertainment network that provides edgy, Arabic, relevant and high-quality online content, with more than 600 million views. UTURN is considered the largest multi-channel network in the region. Its massive fan base reaches across borders, with 20 million followers and subscribers on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Yahoo.

 Rade Ljubojevic (Serbia)
Sirogojno Company d.o.o.
Sirogojno Company is a family-owned business based in the village of Sirogojno within the Mount Zlatibor region of Western Serbia. Its main business activities include product sourcing from the fruit growers within the ecologically clean region and further processing, packaging and distribution on the domestic and foreign markets.
The company has been one of the leading Serbian exporters of high-quality frozen fruit for more than a decade. In 2010, production of low-moisture, sugar-infused and freeze-dried fruit was introduced. This was the first of its kind in this part of Europe, and it had a very positive impact on the development of the local community and the prevention of migration to urban areas.
In 1999, Sirogojno gave new life to the local hand-knitting industry that was originally started in the 1960s to preserve cultural heritage and support the development and employment of women in rural areas. This cooperation enabled women to gain additional earnings by producing hand-knitted woolen garments in their spare time, when they were not working in the fruit fields or doing housework. These garments, which beautifully combine contemporary fashion trends with traditional motifs, are one of the most recognizable Serbian export brands.
As Rade Ljubojevic states, Sirogojno is a family business that nurtures those values in its employees. In addition to supporting cultural exchange alongside cultural heritage protection, Sirogojno is dedicated to raising the overall quality of life in the mountain region of Western Serbia.

Paul Loo
Focus Network Agencies (S) Pte Ltd

In his mid-30s, chocolatier Paul Loo left his comfortable job as a stockbroker and made the leap into entrepreneurship by seizing the opportunity to start a confectionery business with his wife. Focus Network Agencies (S) Pte Ltd (FNA) began as a small exclusive distributor with five staff members and two confectionery brands.
In a few years, Paul managed to earn the trust of more suppliers to extend the number of brands under FNA’s distributorship. As the company expanded, Paul saw the need to diversify in order to be at the forefront of the industry. In 2001, he started Singapore’s first chocolate boutique, The Cocoa Trees, offering the widest range of internationally renowned brands under one roof. This strategic move enabled him to have better control of the business and gave the company a significant competitive advantage.
Today, the company has become Asia’s largest distributor and retailer of premier chocolates and confectionery products, with more than 70 Cocoa Trees boutiques in Singapore and the region. FNA employs more than 550 staff members and has a wide distribution network that extends into the Asia-Pacific region. In 2012, the group turnover was US$165m.
Paul is a firm believer in giving back to the society. FNA adopts an all-inclusive policy, hiring ex-convicts and able-bodied retired citizens to provide them a chance to reintegrate into society. To date, he has contributed close to US$1.6m to fundraising activities within churches, charities and nonprofit community activities.

Vladimír Šrámek (Slovak Republic)
DECODOM, spol. s r.o.
Having already worked in the furniture industry for several years, toward the end of 1999 Vladimír Šrámek and his partner took over an insolvent factory. Over the next couple of years, he built one of the best-known brands in the furniture industry and made it the top furniture producer in Slovakia.
Today, among few others in this segment, the company is enjoying growth, undoubtedly founded on its early specialization in kitchen and living room furniture. Among its other successes, the company has managed to expand into incredibly competitive western European markets, specifically Germany and Austria. Having opened its first store in 2000, DECODOM’s network now comprises 25 locations, with new stores on the horizon.
A lateral thinker, Vladimír Šrámek is a perceptive, progressive businessman with a very open personality. He does not simply accept traditional business solutions — he investigates more imaginative and creative areas. As a complete enthusiast, his profession is also a passion. This translates to a business characterized by integrity, innovation and continuous development.
Vladimir’s emphasis on positioning the company at the cutting edge of innovation has seen it establish its own design team, offering clients tailored professional space solutions. Through initiatives like this and continued growth of the company’s retail chain, Vladimir’s vision is to attain a 10% share in the Slovak market and to rank among the seven largest furniture sellers in Slovakia.

Stephen Koseff (South Africa)
Investec PLC
Stephen Koseff joined Investec in 1980, just four years after the company’s formation. He was one of just eight people, and his place on the roster came as the result of his willingness to take a chance. “I was young, I was a trained accountant so I had that to fall back on, and I thought I would get involved and see how things went, perhaps for a couple of years,” Stephen says. Today the company is an international organization generating annual revenues of more than £2b.
Investec focuses on delivering distinctive profitable solutions for its clients in the three core areas of asset management, wealth and investment, and specialist banking. Its strategy for the past 20 years has been to build a diversified portfolio of businesses and geographies to support clients through varying markets and economic cycles while expanding through a combination of organic growth and strategic acquisitions.
Stephen believes in positioning the business for the long term by contributing to society, macroeconomic stability and the environment. Investec has a well-established international brand reflecting its entrepreneurial culture and employs more than 8,000 people who are passionate and empowered to build sustainable businesses.
“Entrepreneurship has always been integral to Investec’s culture and is embodied within our core values and philosophies, how we conduct ourselves and the activities in which we engage,” Stephen says. “Investec has always supported entrepreneurs, realizing the importance of the role they play in our economy.”

Federico Michavila Heras (Spain)
Grupo Torrecid
When Federico Michavila Heras, joined Torrecid Group, he had recently graduated and did not have any business experience. He faced a situation where the company, with a turnover of only €3m and 25 employees, occupied the last position in the Spanish market. He decided from the beginning to employ people who, although they may be without experience, had essential skills, such as ethics, intelligence, the ability to evolve, teamwork and a sense of humor.
Federico has transformed Torrecid from a micro-family company into a multinational and globalized business group, with 32 companies in 23 countries. Its products and services reach more than 100 countries, with a turnover of more than €500m and about 1,700 employees.
Federico has reinvented and transformed a chemical company into a fashion company, which has been the driver of the ceramic sector. “Impossible is nothing if we are able to dream intensively about it,” he says. His strategy has been based in differentiation throughout innovation and globalization, following the company’s mission: “Provoke the change through the global leadership in innovation to generate new solutions and future trends to provide the best competitive advantages and the maximum added value.”
Federico saw the crisis of 2008–13 as a great opportunity to win and increase the gap with Torrecid’s competitors through revolutionary innovation and more globalization, entering into more than 10 countries during those years.
Today, Torrecid Group is considered the worldwide leader in its sector, thanks to Federico’s energy, passion and leadership qualities. He is always surrounded by an extraordinary team, which he continuously motivates and inspires.

Erik Arpi (Sweden)
Aktiebolaget Pictura

In 1969, young graduate Erik Arpi decided he would go to the Swedish capital to sell posters to the country's largest department store. The response was overwhelming. The department store and other shops placed a large order. This was the inception of Pictura, a company with more than 450 employees and sales exceeding SEK650m. In its early days, the company sold posters and textiles, but it has expanded its range over the years. Today, Pictura is one of Europe’s leading companies in the greeting card market. It has operations in 12 countries, and its products are sold in many more. The goal is to continue expanding the business.
Pictura is at the forefront when it comes to product and service development. Its flexible method of working enables it to match supply with demand. Involving employees, management teams and customers in the development process allows Pictura to maintain a high pace of innovation and predict the best moment to launch new ventures. Its current focus is on digital products and new platforms. Design is the heart of Pictura’s business, and its products are often associated with art that customers fall in love with.
Erik is very passionate about his work and tries to be a source of inspiration for his colleagues. He wants the atmosphere in the workplace to be charged with enthusiasm, commitment and the courage to believe in yourself and your own ideas. Erik founded his company without any financial resources and has created a successful business where employee loyalty and commitment are palpable. This was particularly evident when the company moved its operations to a new location and all the employees went along, too.
Community involvement is important for Erik. Pictura works with several charity organizations that support cancer research, disadvantaged children and other worthy causes.

Jan Schoch (Switzerland)
Leonteq Securities AG

Jan Schoch is the CEO and co-founder of Leonteq Securities AG, formerly EFG Financial Products. His passion for structured products is key to his success, as this investment banking sector offered his sharp and knowledge-hungry mind a chance to try out something extraordinary.
Born in 1977, he is still a young entrepreneur. He studied at Switzerland’s St. Gallen, one of Europe’s leading business universities, and earned a master’s degree in Finance and Capital Markets. After graduating, he worked with the best exponents of international investment banking, always in the field of structured products.
Structured products were the great hope of the financial industry, but Jan soon realized that inefficient technology was hindering its growth potential. What was needed, he realized, was a scalable platform that could produce structured products with high efficiency, much like a factory. With the aim of developing that platform, in 2007 he joined with three partners to set up what is now Leonteq.
They could hardly have chosen a worse time to start a new business. Only a few months later, the global financial crisis hit and the market for structured products halved in size. But Jan and his partners kept their nerve, for now was the time for their platform to show just what value it could add. Indeed, they were among the few financial businesses to actually invest while the crisis was going on, and when the storm died down, they were ready to start a revolution of their own in the structured products business.
Leonteq is now a leading technology and service platform offering investment solutions through branches in Zurich, Geneva, Monaco, Guernsey, Frankfurt, Paris, London, Singapore and Hong Kong. By the end of 2013, it had nearly 300 employees. Since 2012, its shares have been traded successfully on the Swiss Stock Exchange.

Charles Hsu (Taiwan)
TTFB Company Limited

Charles Hsu started his first restaurant in 1990 when he was only 24 years old. Now, 23 years later, his Tai Tong Food and Beverage Company Limited (TTFB) is the largest Asian food restaurant chain in Taiwan, currently ranked No. 1 in both branch count and market size for Thai cuisine. TTFB went public on the Taiwan Stock Exchange in 2012, and its market capitalization was US$222m as of January 2014.
TTFB’s restaurants fall under three brands: Thai Town Cuisine, Very Thai Restaurant and 1010 Hunan Cuisine. By the end of 2014, TTFB is projected to have 100 branches and more than 4,000 employees in Taiwan and China.
Although Asian cuisine is considered to be the most diverse and technically complex in the world, Charles’ understanding of Asian traditions and cooking techniques has allowed him to succeed in this industry. His vision is to not only preserve the art of Asian cuisine, but to share its true flavors and traditions with the rest of the world.
Charles’ ideology has led him to create a system of highly sophisticated Asian cuisine operations through standardization of ingredients, scientific management and systematic training at TTFB’s own in-house Asian Cuisine Academy.
Charles has not only been able to build up Taiwan’s most successful Asian food chain, but he has also created a system capable of replicating any complicated Asian dish and making it profitable on a global scale.

Levent Yilmaz and Feridun Tunçer (Turkey)
Levent Yılmaz and Feridun Tunçer started their business in 1993. They realized the potential offered by the booming shopping mall sector in 2006 and decided to capitalize on it by standardizing the iskender döner, a traditional delicacy of Turkish cuisine, within a fast food concept. This process considered the need to offer a competitive price without sacrificing quality, and it was inspired by other international fast-food concepts and the increasing demand for fast food. Based on the partners’ estimates of consumer demand, Baydöner created a fast-food concept for iskender döner without giving up yogurt, sauce and butter, proving that innovation applies to food as well. Baydöner became one of the leading brands for iskender döner within seven years and has achieved remarkable growth and success.
Baydöner took döner to a level where competition with other fast-food products is possible, and it was included in the Turquality Project in 2012. Baydöner was granted the “Endeavor Entrepreneur” title at the 42th International Choice Panel in Dubai in 2012. As of 2013, it has turned into a big brand with 1,300 employees, TRY10m annual restaurant revenues and 8 million customers per year.
Baydöner then decided to go global with the objective of increasing the awareness of döner. Baydöner started with markets in the Middle East and Asia rather than Europe or America, and it plans to increase the number of its international restaurants, which now number one in Baku, Azerbaijan, and two in Erbil, Iraq. Baydöner, which is the biggest restaurant chain in Turkey, with 77 local restaurants in 34 provinces, plans to reach 150 local and 30 international restaurants by the end of 2018. Its first restaurant in Europe will be opened in 2015 in Germany.

James Lambert (United Kingdom)
R&R Ice Cream
James Lambert set up R&R Ice Cream in 1985, employed five people and had a turnover of around £250,000. Since then his entrepreneurial skills, spirit, vision and innovation have transformed R&R Ice Cream into a pan-European business with a turnover touching £750m and employees numbering almost 3,500. And in 2013, James led the team that negotiated the sale of R&R to PAI Partners for a reported sum of some €850m.
Entering the ice cream market, which is dominated by powerful competitors, was always going to be risky. With a strategic focus to become the best in one sector, the business grew rapidly. Although James’ strategy has evolved, it still remains broadly the same and evokes the same entrepreneurial spirit in his team.
Not content with becoming Europe’s leading manufacturer of ice cream in the private-label sector, the business is also home to top licensed brands such as Mondelēz , Cadbury, Nestlé and Disney. The R&R model is set to be globalized through a similar twin track approach. James has a strategy of promoting from within, and he commits significant resources to R&R’s award-winning training and development programs. He is also a strong believer in businesses benefiting their communities through employee involvement and capital investment to help the environment.
James, who was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2013 for his work in the manufacturing industry, believes that fortitude, a bit of luck and surrounding yourself with the best people are the keys to growth.

Hamid Moghadam (United States)
Hamid Moghadam is a visionary entrepreneur who has not only built a global company but paved its way for enduring excellence. As an Iranian immigrant looking for employment in a recessionary job market in the early ‘80s, the cards were not in his favor. However, it was his entrepreneurial spirit which drove him to co-found AMB Property Corporation in 1983. Little did he know he would eventually lead the company through its initial public offering, weather the global financial crisis, and successfully orchestrate the 2011 merger of AMB and ProLogis.
The new Prologis emerged as one of the largest global real estate companies and member of the S&P 200 with more than $48 billion of assets under management, comprising more than 569 million square feet of logistics facilities in 21 countries across four continents. Whether it was taking precautionary steps to protect the company during the economic downturn, moving against conventional wisdom by acquiring distribution facilities near global trade hubs, or establishing what he coined as a “culture of empowered accountability”, Moghadam’s unwavering determination and strategic foresight are palpable.
Although Moghadam is quiet about his philanthropic efforts, he has been recognized on numerous occasions for his generous spirit. He is an active participant in the San Francisco Bay Area community and is also a strong supporter of his cultural heritage, establishing an Iranian Studies program at Stanford and co-founding the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution.

Carlos Lecueder (Uruguay)
Estudio Luis E. Lecueder
For the past 20 years, Carlos Lecueder has been dedicated to developing real estate, including shopping centers. Today, more than 8,300 people work in these developments, which generate annual revenues of approximately US$1b. He credits his father’s spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship for inspiring him to become the country’s most important real estate developer.
Carlos has developed many large building projects in Uruguay, including the WTC Towers Complex, one of which is a Free Trade Zone in the middle of Montevideo. His entrepreneurship is also responsible for more than seven shopping centers and Uruguay’s main bus terminal, and many of his projects have changed the face of Montevideo. He consults regarding shopping centers in Argentina, Paraguay, Ecuador and Peru, and he has lectured throughout South America, Mexico, the US and Singapore.
Carlos is President of the Advisory Board and a member of the Faculty Council of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). He has received the ICSC Distinguished Service Award due to his work developing shopping centers in South America, in addition to five ICSC Maxi Awards for his marketing of shopping centers.
Carlos promotes and participates in corporate social responsibility activities both within his company and in the various fields where he works. One of his first projects in Montevideo, Portones Shopping, was the first mall in the world to earn ISO 14001 certification for its environmental management system.
Lecueder was just 19 in 1971 when his father Luis, an accountant, recruited him to join his startup company to build apartment buildings in Uruguay.
Tucked between Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay is South America’s second-smallest country by area, and has just 3.3 million people, more than half of which are living in the capital of Montevideo. Uruguay has for decades felt the compounded impact of inadequate commercial infrastructure: without a solid, confident banking system, for instance, building large apartment buildings was almost impossible.
Using their own network of individual investors, the Lecueders built 34 buildings — ranging from three floors to 22 — in 10 years. But the early 1980s brought a financial crisis in Argentina that shut down building in Uruguay. “We had to figure out what else to do,” says Carlos. His suggestion: Uruguay was ready for its first U.S.-style shopping mall.
Carlos moved to Sao Paolo, Brazil, for a few years to work for a mall-management company and learn what makes shopping centres tick. But when he returned to Montevideo, he found an unexpected glitch; in Uruguay’s sleepy retail sector, no company wanted to move into a mall.
“Our first tenant was a friend,” says Carlos. To get the retailer to sign on, he says, “I gave him my word: If you decide not to move in, we’ll break the contract. But I need someone to go first.”
Working again with local investors, the Lecueders opened their first mall, “Montevideo Shopping Center,” in 1988. It had 80 stores, with a supermarket as anchor tenant. A hit from the start, the centre has since been expanded 19 times.
Estudio Lecueder hires contractors to builds it malls, then owns and manages them directly. Today it has seven properties in Uruguay, one in Argentina, and another in Paraguay. It’s been hard work, but Carlos says things are just beginning to get easier. Uruguay is now producing a new breed of pension funds that can supply some of the patient institutional capital that North American developers depend on. And the long-awaited entry of international retailers such as The Gap, Zara and Forever 21 is making Uruguay’s malls a bigger draw than ever.
Also helpful is Uruguay’s business-friendly culture, Carlos says. “We are slow, but serious. When you give your word, it’s as good as a signed contract.”
Although Luis died in 1994, Estudio Lecueder’s operational success has attracted more opportunities. It built and operates two bus terminals — gleaming showpieces with air conditioning and retail spaces — and is building two more. The company also developed a five-tower office project with a 44-floor anchor and a free-trade zone that allows tenants to see services overseas tax-free. Today the company’s revenue totals US$1-billion.

Professor Muhammad Yunus
Grameen Bank
Nobel Peace Prize recipient 2006
Yunus: social business helps to open doors
A world revolution in finance began with a simple act.
In his travels to villages around rural Bangladesh, Muhammad Yunus saw how endemic poverty was made even worse by the high cost of money. Banks in Bangladesh were wary of lending to the poor; for many people, the only source of credit was a loan shark. Yunus responded by reaching into his own pockets to finance loans. The amounts were small — tiny, by Western standards. The microlending industry had been born.
Yunus, Thursday’s opening keynote speaker, guaranteed even more loans because he believed in a simple but powerful truth: every human being is an entrepreneur. Today, the bank he founded, Grameen Bank, has more than 8.4 million borrowers and lends more than US$1.5 billion each year.
Yunus, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, says entrepreneurship is in our DNA. Our distant ancestors didn’t sit in their caves sending out job applications, he notes; they went out and did what they needed to do. Given the funding, poor people can do exactly the same thing.
The microfinancing that helps them transform their aspirations into reality isn’t a charity in the traditional sense. Charity, for all of its obvious benefits, has its limitations: the money goes out and never comes back. A business focused on the social good — social business — sends the money out, gets it back and sends it out again, multiplying the good it can do.
Traditional business focuses on making money. Social business, by contrast, looks to solve problems by pursuing the objectives of charity and harnessing business methodologies to achieve them. By tapping into the entrepreneurship inherent in all of us, social business can tackle the truly pressing challenges we face, from health care to poverty to unemployment. The challenges can be met, Yunus says: all business needs is a door, and he is working to open that door.
Consider electricity in Bangladesh, where 70% of the population doesn’t have power. Yunus’ solution was to offer solar home systems with monthly payments equal to the amount rural families spend each month on kerosene. There are now 1.5 million homes in Bangladesh where families can turn on a light — another simple act, and more than that, a testament to the power of entrepreneurship.

Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Stewart shares her ingredients for success
According to Martha Stewart, risk-taking is a good thing. She has been an entrepreneur and risk-taker since the age of 10, when she realized she could make more money organizing birthday parties for her schoolmates than by babysitting.
From that point on it was full speed ahead to her current position as the Founder and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO), a diversified media and merchandising company that encompasses publishing, internet, broadcast media platforms and branded product lines.
In a conversation with EY Global COO John Ferraro, Stewart traced her early entrepreneurial spirit to her father’s encouragement. His message was simple: you’re smart and you can do anything.
But it has not been an easy rise to the top. She took an enormous risk in the early 1990s when she decided to end her popular magazine’s association with Time Warner after the publishing giant did not see the value of media tie-ins.
While she considers going public her greatest success, Stewart cautions fellow entrepreneurs to get the best advice possible before pursuing an IPO. Her initial advisors thought it was an unusual experience to find themselves working with a woman, which she finds odd because she considers herself a person in business, not a woman in business.
Stewart is an avid follower of technological advances, but she admits that the computer takes up much more time than she had anticipated in 1982. An early investor in Twitter, she appreciates social media’s instant outreach to customers. And she is fascinated by the development of the driverless car, which she believes has enormous potential.
Innovation has a home within Stewart’s company as well. She noticed that aluminum foil, a wonderful cooking aid for meats and poultry, was not as good as parchment for vegetables. The result: Martha Wrap, one side of which is foil, the other parchment.
Stewart says she would like to be remembered as a purveyor of knowledge that lasts and is used on a daily basis. At MSLO, everyone is always learning — they are all students, and they are all teachers.

Erik Wahl

The Art of Vision
Internationally recognized artist
No. 1 best-selling author
Creativity: the new capital for entrepreneurship
Erik Wahl began his lively presentation by speed-painting a portrait of Bono accompanied by U2’s “Beautiful Day.” He related the story of how the dramatic failure of his business caused him to question his entire approach to how he learned and worked. In response, Wahl rediscovered his artistic self — the child who had stopped drawing after a grade-school teacher told him he wasn’t any good at it.
Today, Wahl uses his graffiti-style art to illustrate the power of what business can do when it moves beyond conventional wisdom to open a different door. Echoing Muhammad Yunus, Wahl noted that, at heart, everyone is an entrepreneur. Everyone is an artist. Our creative, entrepreneurial selves can enter through a different door to discover a new way of making vital human connections and improving the world.

Here's the past winners

Hamdi Ulukaya
Chobani, Inc
United States

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 US
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013
 When it comes to making yogurt, Turkish-born entrepreneur Hamdi Ulukaya has the magic touch. Chobani Greek Yogurt, which he launched in 2007, is already the best-selling brand of yogurt in the US. Hamdi bought a closed-down yogurt factory and founded his company Chobani. In 2009, Hamdi signed a major deal with leading US grocery wholesaler Costco, and today Chobani’s annual sales are approaching US$1b. It has a workforce of more than 2,200 people and sells its products in US, Australia and the UK. Chobani’s newest US manufacturing facility is the largest yogurt factory in the world. As an immigrant, Hamdi believes in embracing change and improving communities, so 10% of Chobani’s profits are donated to the company’s charitable foundation, Shepherd’s Gift Foundation. The company is an official sponsor of the US Olympic team, and its corporate philosophy is “Nothing but good.”

Olivia Lum
Executive Chairman and Group CEO
Hyflux Limited

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2010 Singapore
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011
Olivia Lum founded Hyflux in 1989 with two staff and start-up capital of US$15,000. Today, Hyflux has become one of the world's leading desalination suppliers. It is publicly traded with revenues of US$450 million, employing more than 2,300 people in operations and projects in Southeast Asia, China, India, the Middle East and North Africa. Olivia is the first female EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year winner and serves as a role model for entrepreneurs and for women across Asia and the world. "I'm very happy to accept this award on behalf of all the employees at Hyflux. For me, this reinforces there are no difficulties you can't overcome when you have faced the challenges of hunger and poverty."

Cho Tak Wong
Fuyao Glass Industry Group

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2008 China
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2009
 Cho Tak Wong emerged from humble beginnings to become one of China’s most successful entrepreneurs. He started his own business at the age of 16, peddling cut tobacco. He also worked as a farmer, chef and fruit seller. Cho founded Fuyao Group in 1987 to specialize in the production of automotive safety glass and industrial technological glass. In 1993, it was the first company in its sector in China to be listed in the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The group has more than 10,000 employees and has glass production facilities in Fuqing, Changchun, Chongqing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing and modern float-glass production bases in Fujian, Jilin, Inner Mongolia and Hainan. It has established a complete sales network across the country, and it also has business offices in the United States, Japan, Korea, Australia, Russia and Germany.

Guy Laliberté
Founder and CEO
Cirque du Soleil
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2006 Canada
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2007
In 1984, during the the 450th anniversary of the discovery of Canada, the Quebec government was celebrating by looking for a show that would tour across the province. Guy Laliberté, an itinerant and highly entrepreneurial fire-eater, accordionist and stilt-walker, presented the civil servants with a proposal for a show called Cirque du Soleil (Cirque) — and to their credit, they recognized its potential for short-term success and long-term growth. Cirque du Soleil’s touring shows have made more than 250 stops in more than 100 cities around the world. Cirque also has permanent shows in purpose-built theatres in Florida and Las Vegas. Production is well under way for permanent shows at Disney Tokyo and in Macau. The company has revenues of more than US$600 million and has enjoyed double-digit growth for more than five years. Every facet of Cirque is overseen and guided by Guy, and his vision goes far beyond creating entertainment. The company’s social action programs have given more than US$47 million to benefit youth at risk in more than 56 countries, and the organization is actively committed to the One Drop movement, which is dedicated to providing clean water to the world.

Tony Tan Caktiong
Chairman and President
Jollibee Foods Corporation

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2003 Philippines
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2004
Tony Tan Caktiong, President of Jollibee Foods Corporation, won the title of World Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2004. Jollibee was founded in 1975 as a two-branch ice cream parlor, which later expanded its menu to include hot sandwiches and other meals. The size, geographic expanse and breadth of the company's operations have grown exponentially — from a handful of Jollibee stores 26 years ago to 1,185 stores in 9 countries at the end of 2004. The prestigious Far Eastern Economic Review has cited Jollibee as The Most Admired Company in the Philippines for the past six years.

Michael Wu
Chairman and Managing Director
Hong Kong Maxim’s Group
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 China - Hong Kong
Michael is currently the Chairman and Managing Director of Hong Kong Maxim’s Group, Hong Kong’s largest food and beverage corporation and restaurant chain operating company.
Michael has been a force behind the transformation of Maxim’s from a core business of Chinese restaurants, fast food outlets and bakery shops to a diversified catering company that also includes Asian and European restaurants, coffee shops, Japanese chain restaurants and institutional catering. Hong Kong Maxim’s Group now operates 840 outlets serving more than 600,000 people every day in Hong Kong, China and Vietnam, and it provides air catering services at 11 airports in China through joint ventures.
Michael’s intuition and passion for the industry helped him to establish a new line of contemporary restaurants called m.a.x. concepts, including Café Landmark, Thai Basil and simplylife. Apart from developing its own brands, Maxim’s is also the licensee of Starbucks Coffee and Genki Sushi.

Ashish Thakkar
Mara Group
Ashish is a serial entrepreneur who founded his first business with a US$5,000 loan. Since then, he has driven the growth of Mara from a small IT business in Uganda to a globally recognized multi-sector investment group. Today, it employs over 8,000 people across 19 African countries in sectors spanning IT services, manufacturing, real estate and agriculture.
Ashish continues to drive the business development and strategy of Mara. In 2012, he was appointed a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in recognition of his success and leadership in driving social and economic change in Africa. Ashish is also a member of the WEF’s Global Agenda Council on Africa.
Ashish advises several heads of state in Sub-Saharan Africa and is passionate about enabling, empowering and inspiring young entrepreneurs. In 2009, he founded the Mara Foundation to foster and support emerging entrepreneurs through mentorship and venture philanthropy.

Liew Kee Sin
Chairman, Battersea Project Holding Company Ltd.
Former President and CEO, S P Setia Berhad
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year for Malaysia in 2011
Liew, Chairman of Battersea Project Holding, began his career with a merchant bank in 1981. After five years in the banking industry, he took the entrepreneurial path by developing his first residential project in Kuala Lumpur. In 1996, he successfully engineered a reverse takeover of S P Setia Berhad, which he led for 18 years, until 2014. During his tenure, S P Setia grew from a small two-project company into an internationally recognized property player with more than 40 projects in six countries.
Among his more notable achievements was leading a Malaysian consortium to successfully acquire UK’s Battersea Power Station. In early 2013, the first phase of the project was launched to a near sold-out reception, a mere four months after the completion of site acquisition.
Liew, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year for Malaysia in 2011, has been recognized by many organizations for his success as a leader and entrepreneur. Among his accolades was the Lifetime Achievement Award for Property and Philanthropic Leadership from the World Chinese Economic Forum in 2012. In 2013, he was also recognized as Malaysia’s Outstanding CEO for demonstrating exemplary leadership in building businesses and creating value, by the country’s leading business publication, The Edge, through its Billion Ringgit Club awards.
Underpinning all of this is Liew’s belief in excellence, team spirit and commitment to drive community enrichment to make a real difference in people’s lives — a goal he continues to regard as the biggest joy of entrepreneurship.

Denis O'Brien
Digicel Group
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 1998 Ireland
Denis is the Chairman and principal shareholder of the privately owned Digicel Group, one of the fastest growing cellular companies in the world. Denis founded Digicel in 2001, when the company launched a GSM cellular phone service in the Caribbean. Since then, Digicel Group has extended its operations to 32 markets with almost 12 million subscribers.
He is one of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs with extensive investments across several sectors. He also founded Communicorp Group, which owns and manages a portfolio of media and broadcasting-related companies in Ireland, Bulgaria and Latvia.
Outside of his extensive business interests, Denis chaired the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland – the first time the Summer Games were staged outside the US. He is a Director on the US Board of Concern Worldwide and a member of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development.
Denis holds a BA from University College Dublin and an MBA from Boston College.

Ulysses Kyriacopoulos
S&B Industrial Minerals SA
Chairman of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Greece 2008 and 2011 Judging Panel
Ulysses is the Chairman of S&B, a company that has a “market-to-mine” approach. It focuses on understanding the customers’ needs (the “market”) and developing and transforming natural resources (the “mine”) into industrial solutions. He has held several leadership positions with the company and has been the Chairman for 14 years.

Ulysses is a key figure in Greece’s entrepreneurial community, and he has served as Chairman of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises and as Vice President of Business Europe and of Hellenic Exchanges Holdings. He has been honored with the Kouros Award of Entrepreneurship by the President of the Hellenic Republic and was appointed a Grand Commander of the Order of Merit by the President of the Republic of Portugal.
Ulysses, who was twice recognized among Europe’s 500 Dynamic Entrepreneurs, completed his studies in Mining Engineering in Austria and the UK, and he received his MBA from INSEAD in France.

Kay Koplovitz
Founder, USA Network
Chairman and CEO, Koplovitz & Company
Chairman and Co-founder, Springboard Enterprises
Kay is the founder of USA Network, the Sci-Fi Channel and USA Networks International. She created the business model for cable networks by introducing the concept of two revenue streams: licensing and advertising. She led the company and served as Chairperson and CEO until the company was sold for US$4.5b in 1998.
Kay is currently Chairman and Co-founder of Springboard Enterprises, the premier platform where entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts meet to build great women-led businesses by providing education, resources, coaches and support for high-growth companies seeking equity capital for expansion. Since its inception in 2000, Springboard has raised more than US$6.2b and created over 20,000 jobs.
She is the author of Bold Women, Big Ideas and speaks on the topics of women’s leadership in areas such as entrepreneurship, board diversity and media. Kay earned her master’s degree in Communications from Michigan State University and her Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin.

Dr. Tetsuya Iizuka
Founder and Chairman of the Board
THine Electronics, Inc.
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2001 Japan
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2002-2008, 2012-2013 Japan Judge
Dr. Iizuka is the founder and Chairman of the Board of THine Electronics, the global leader in high-speed serial interface and provider of mixed-signal LSI for flat panel displays and smartphones. The company is also a leader in high-speed interfaces, particularly in the market of pixel data transmission.
Dr. Iizuka started the company to create a public entity where talented team members could find enormous opportunities to achieve their goals. In 2001, THine Electronics became a public company.
Dr. Iizuka has led every strategic project to develop a new product, and he established a de facto standard of the high-speed serial interface. In addition, he and several semiconductor entrepreneurs established the Japan Semiconductor Venture Association JASVA).
Dr. Iizuka was the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2001 Japan Award winner, and he has also served as a judge. He earned his PhD from the University of Tokyo.

Mikael Hed
Chief Executive Officer
Rovio Entertainment Ltd.
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011 Finland
Mikael is the CEO of Rovio Entertainment Ltd., an entertainment media company and creator of the globally successful Angry Birds franchise.
Under Mikael’s leadership, Rovio Entertainment has transformed from a game studio and development partner into a world leader with the No. 1 title in mobile gaming. Angry Birds quickly became an international sensation, and the Angry Birds franchise has blossomed into a series of games while expanding rapidly in entertainment, publishing and licensing to become a beloved international brand. Rovio has grown alongside Angry Birds, and the multifaceted entertainment house, which currently employs about 800 professionals across around the world.
Mikael holds a bachelor’s degree in Management from the Freeman School of Business at Tulane University. He is committed to an entrepreneurial spirit and pursuing education. The company regularly brings new talent to the field through training programs, partly in cooperation with universities.

Chieko Aoki
Blue Tree Hotels
CEO, Chieko leads Blue Tree with a blend of education, commitment and entrepreneurial spirit. The chain has 24 hotels in Brazil, and her commitment is to be the most renowned Brazilian hotel operator, acknowledged by its high quality and own style in hotel management and services.
Chieko participates in a number of notable organizations, including the Latin America Entrepreneur Council, the Entrepreneur Leader Group, LIDE Woman and the Brazilian Academy of Events. She holds a Chair at the Brazilian Academy of Marketing and is currently serving as Vice President to the Management Council of the São Paulo Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Chieko works for the development of economic and cultural relations between Brazil, Japan and Latin America, and she actively participates in philanthropic and social-related activities. She earned her Law degree from the University of São Paulo and has taken courses in Administration at the University of Sofia and in Hotel Management at Cornell University.

Rebecca MacDonald
Executive Chair
Just Energy Group Inc.
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2003 Canada
Rebecca is a founder and the current Executive Chair of Just Energy Group, a Toronto-based marketer of deregulated electricity and natural gas. Just Energy currently supplies more than 2 million customers across Canada, the US and the UK.
Rebecca has been involved in the sale of deregulated natural gas and electricity for the past 25 years. She founded Just Energy in 1997 with the intention of building a substantial company that could go public, which Just Energy did in 2001.
Rebecca was named Canada’s top woman CEO for 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 by Profit magazine. She received the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2003 Canada Award, and dhe won the International Horatio Alger Award in 2009.
She is Vice Chair of Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto, where she founded the Rebecca MacDonald Centre for Arthritis Research. She sits on the Board of Canadian Pacific Railway and is involved in several charities.

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