Billion-Dollar Question

Singapore’s finest entrepreneurs share what they would do if they were given a billion dollars.

Joel Phua, founder of Rogue & Beyond mens hair studio
If I had a billion dollars, I would open a hair museum. Or better yet, I would open a hair academy to support people who are passionate about hair but who cannot afford the school fees. I wouldn’t mind helping them out with free lessons. People are always afraid that the next person is going to be better than them and they shouldn’t be. Share knowledge and what you know, and people will appreciate that. Don’t keep everything to yourself because what is the use of that in the end?

Gina Heng, co-founder of Lattice80, a not-for-profit fintech hub and CEO of Marvelstone Group, a private investment group
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has always been an inspiration to me. Launched in 2000, today it is said to be the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world. As a fellow entrepreneur, it would be my privilege to give my billion dollars to Bill and Melinda’s foundation to make a difference in the world. I know the money will be put to good use, in the way that only a true entrepreneur could execute. From eradicating polio to helping women in third-world countries make informed family-planning decisions, their philosophy that ‘all lives have equal value’ is one I can honestly and proudly get behind.

Wendy Foo, co-founder of Ryans Grocery, a retail outlet specialising in gluten-free and organic products

As a foodie and a firm believer in eating well, food sources are important to me. So I would use the money to buy multiple farms in Australia for beef, pork, lamb and poultry; and farms in Asia, Australia and Europe for the best vegetables and fruit in every season. Second, I have met many parents of special-needs children, so I would invest in an educational institution for mild and moderate autistic individuals from age seven by setting up trust funds and appointing professional managers.

Drew Holt-Kentwell, co-founder of Chaos Theory, eSports organisation
If I had a billion dollars, I would start a non-profit to empower at-risk youth around the world and address some of these issues by using eSports as a catalyst. The possibilities are endless: from starting a scholarship fund for young underprivileged gamers, or investing in the right areas to provide the necessary training for more access to different job opportunities, the money would go a long way to create more prospects for young gamers around the world.

Christopher Chien, co-founder of Medano Coffee
The first order of business would be to buy a portfolio of lifestyle companies with a similar brand sense. Somewhere along the way, I’d hire two-Michelin-starred chef Rene Redzepi of Noma for a week, organising private tasting sessions for my friends and family. I’d also adopt a disbursement framework in similar fashion to Warren Buffett, whereby a significant portion of my wealth would be dedicated to philanthropy. In particular, I’d like to have an impact education in a big way — my mother’s passion for nurturing, teaching and positive psychology has definitely left its mark on me.

Zoie Teo, founder of Carat55, a diamond and fine jewellery retailer
A billion dollars would be enough to splurge on myself but I consider it insufficient to change the world. However, I would like to start with the fundamentals so I would work on helping to alleviate hunger and poverty as best as I can. As charity begins at home, I would start by helping causes on the local front, such as Lions Home For The Elders, the Children’s Cancer Foundation and Food From The Heart. I would also financially support efforts to bring clean water and electricity to many impoverished areas in Asia and Africa. With what is left, I would use it to develop the Carat55 brand, which will allow me the option of travelling the world and expanding my horizons.


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