SMU’s Business Families Institute (BFI) was established in response to the growing needs of business families in Asia. This column profiles business families and how they approach issues of governance and stewardship. SMU alumnus and third-generation business owner and Director of sugar manufacturer Cheng Yew Heng, John Cheng, shares how he has grown the business and expanded to support startups and SMEs in the wider food industry. John founded a food accelerator, the Innovate 360 Innovation Hub, which he hopes will help to give a leg-up to food-tech startups and catalyse innovation. He has also founded Feed 9 Billion, an open platform to help find solutions for global hunger; and foodculture.sg to help SMEs in the food business sell and market their products online. This year, he is nominated for The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2021.
SMU Assistant Professor of Strategic Management (Education) and Interim Academic Director of BFI Kenneth Goh said, “Family-owned businesses play an essential role in catalysing economic transformation. Business families hold the key to trusted business relationships and industry knowledge. As stewards of their family’s legacy, an increasing number of next-generation owners are exploring how they can tap these long-standing relationships to create ecosystems that can accelerate the growth of new businesses in their industries.”