Malaysia, a dynamic Southeast Asian country, has experienced remarkable economic expansion, largely owing to the visionaries among its entrepreneurs. Check out the most popular entrepreneurs in Malaysia.
These innovators have not only shaped their own destinies but have also made substantial contributions to the nation’s progress. This article aims to introduce you to Entrepreneurs in Malaysia who have etched an enduring legacy in the business landscape.
These Malaysian trailblazers have demonstrated exceptional skill, determination, and resilience, guiding their enterprises to unprecedented heights while fostering economic growth on a national scale. Their stories serve as an inspiration, showcasing the potential for success and the transformative impact of entrepreneurship in Malaysia. As we delve into their journeys, we’ll uncover the strategies, challenges, and unwavering commitment that have propelled these visionaries to become prominent figures in the business world, leaving an indelible mark on their nation’s history. Here is list of 10 Most Famous Entrepreneurs in Malaysia.
Top 10 Most Famous Entrepreneurs in Malaysia
1. Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun
Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun, at 69 years old, is a prominent figure in Malaysia’s business landscape. He is renowned for his contributions to property development, retail, and telecommunications industries. His remarkable journey from a modest background to becoming a business tycoon is an inspiration to many. Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun is one of the most popular Entrepreneurs in Malaysia.
Vincent Tan’s entrepreneurial journey began when he opened Malaysia’s first McDonald’s restaurant after getting inspired by an article about McDonald’s burgers. This venture marked the start of his successful foray into the food and beverage industry. Over time, he introduced various international food and beverage franchises to Malaysia, diversifying his portfolio.
At the age of thirty-two, Vincent Tan used the profits from his McDonald’s business to acquire a controlling stake in Berjaya Industrial Berhad, subsequently renaming it Berjaya Corporation Berhad. Under his leadership, Berjaya Corporation Berhad has grown into one of Malaysia’s largest conglomerates, with interests spanning diverse sectors, including Berjaya Land Berhad, Berjaya Sports Toto Berhad, and Berjaya Food Berhad.
Vincent Tan’s journey serves as a testament to the power of ambition, determination, and entrepreneurial spirit. From modest beginnings, he has built an empire that continues to make a significant impact on Malaysia’s business landscape. His story is a source of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs, showcasing that with vision and hard work, even the most challenging obstacles can be overcome.
2. Anthony Francis Fernandes
Anthony Francis Fernandes, better known as Tony Fernandes, is a 57-year-old Malaysian entrepreneur who has made a significant impact on the aviation industry, among others. His visionary leadership and innovative thinking have left an indelible mark on Malaysia’s business landscape. Anthony Francis Fernandes is a popular Entrepreneurs in Malaysia from the aviation Industry.
In 2001, Tony Fernandes, along with his business partner Kamarudin Meranun, made a bold move by acquiring the struggling airline, AirAsia. Their vision was clear: to create a low-cost airline that would make air travel accessible to everyone. With the bold slogan “Now everyone can fly,” they aimed to democratize air travel in Malaysia.
Under Tony Fernandes’s leadership, AirAsia underwent a remarkable transformation. He successfully turned the once-failing commercial airline into a highly popular budget airline that became the preferred choice for many Malaysians. The airline’s cost-effective approach, efficient operations, and commitment to affordability revolutionized the way Malaysians and people across Asia viewed air travel. Tony Fernandes is the richest Entrepreneur in Malaysia.
Tony Fernandes didn’t stop at AirAsia; he expanded his entrepreneurial ventures to include Tune Group and Caterham Group. Tune Group encompasses a range of businesses, including hotels and an English football club. This diversification reflects Tony Fernandes’s commitment to exploring new opportunities and industries.
Tony Fernandes’s story is one of resilience, innovation, and perseverance. His ability to identify a gap in the market and turn it into a thriving business demonstrates his entrepreneurial prowess. He has not only made air travel affordable but has also contributed significantly to Malaysia’s reputation as a hub for budget travel in Asia.
3. Ananda Krishnan
At 83 years old, Ananda Krishnan is a towering figure in Malaysia’s business landscape, known for his diverse business ventures in telecommunications, media, and oil services. With a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University, Krishnan’s journey from an oil trader to Southeast Asia’s richest businessman is nothing short of remarkable. Ananda Krishnan is the oldest Entrepreneurs in Malaysia.
Krishnan’s journey into the business world began with ventures related to oil. His early career as an oil trader laid the foundations for what would become a sprawling business empire. The profits from his oil trading endeavors provided the capital and motivation to explore new business opportunities.
One of Krishnan’s most significant achievements is the establishment of Maxis Communications, a telecommunications giant. Maxis, Malaysia’s largest mobile phone company, has played a pivotal role in shaping the country’s telecommunications landscape. Krishnan’s strategic vision and leadership contributed significantly to Maxis’s success, and today, he holds a substantial 29 per cent stake in the company.
Beyond telecommunications, Krishnan’s influence extends to the media sector through his ownership of Astro Malaysia Holdings, the country’s largest paid TV company. This investment further underscores his commitment to diversifying his business portfolio.
Ananda Krishnan’s journey exemplifies the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. From humble beginnings as an oil trader, he leveraged his early success to venture into industries that have left an enduring mark on Malaysia’s economy. His remarkable success serves as an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs, demonstrating the potential for growth and influence in the business world.
4. Tan Sri Datuk Gnanalingam
At 77 years old, Tan Sri Datuk Gnanalingam is a distinguished figure in Malaysia’s business landscape, particularly in the realm of ports. He is widely recognized as the co-founder and current executive chairman of Westports Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a pivotal player in Malaysia’s maritime industry.
Gnanalingam’s journey to success is a testament to his relentless work ethic and dedication. In 1994, he took a bold step by establishing Westports Malaysia Sdn Bhd. Through sheer hard work and unwavering commitment, he transformed Westports into Malaysia’s largest privately-owned port. Under his leadership, Westports has become a critical component of the country’s trade infrastructure.
Gnanalingam’s journey began with a strong educational foundation, as he is a Harvard Business School graduate. He embarked on his career as a sales representative for the British American Tobacco group in 1968, showcasing early signs of his business acumen. His dedication and expertise eventually led to his promotion to the position of Marketing Director in 1980.
The success of Westports under Gnanalingam’s leadership has not only contributed to his personal wealth but has also played a crucial role in facilitating Malaysia’s trade and economic growth. His visionary approach to port operations and infrastructure development has been instrumental in enhancing the country’s logistics capabilities.
5. Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah Fook Ling
Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah Fook Ling, a prominent Malaysian entrepreneur, is the driving force behind the Sunway Group, a Malaysian conglomerate with operations spanning 12 industries, with a primary focus on property and construction. Cheah has left an indelible mark on Malaysia’s business landscape.
Cheah’s commitment to education is evident in his roles as the Foundation Chancellor of Sunway University in Malaysia and as a Founding Trustee of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation. His dedication to higher education has been recognized through the award of 10 honorary doctorates, most of which commend his outstanding contributions to the field.
Cheah’s journey began with a pursuit of a business degree in Australia at Victoria University. After returning to Malaysia, he initially worked as an accountant in a motor assembly plant before venturing into entrepreneurship. In 1974, with a humble startup capital of RM100,000, he founded his own company—a small tin-mining enterprise. Today, the Sunway Group stands as one of Malaysia’s most formidable property and construction conglomerates.
6. Vivy Yusof
Vivy Yusof, a blogger, wife, and mother of two, has shattered the glass ceiling for women in Malaysia with her pioneering online shopping platform, Fashion Valet, which she co-founded with her husband, Fadzarudin Anuar.
Their entrepreneurial journey began in 2010 with a modest RM100,000 investment. Despite their initial lack of experience in e-commerce, Vivy and her husband demonstrated exceptional resilience and determination. Their vision attracted significant support, with USD 320,000 in first-round funding secured from MyEG Services Bhd, an e-government services company, and additional funding from Elixir Capital, a private equity firm in Silicon Valley, California.
What sets Vivy apart is her ability to balance her roles as a businesswoman, wife, and mother, all while actively engaging on social media. Her dedication and multitasking skills have been instrumental in Fashion Valet’s success. Her fashion e-commerce site has become a prominent platform for both established and emerging designers, helping to shape Malaysia’s fashion landscape. Vivy Yusof is a well-known women entrepreneurs in Malaysia.
With new stakeholders joining Fashion Valet, Vivy Yusof’s career journey is poised to reach new heights. Her story highlights the power of ambition, innovation, and adaptability in the ever-evolving world of e-commerce. Vivy Yusof is a shining example of how passion and hard work can lead to remarkable success, regardless of the challenges one faces.
7. Datuk Jimmy Choo
Jimmy Choo, a name synonymous with luxury footwear, has risen to global acclaim with his eponymous brand. His journey from a family of shoemakers in Penang to international renown is a remarkable tale of talent and entrepreneurship.
Born with the name Jimmy Chow, a clerical error on his birth certificate led to the now-iconic moniker, Jimmy Choo. Growing up in a family with a tradition of crafting shoes, he developed a passion for the craft from a young age. By the tender age of 11, he had already begun honing his skills in shoe craftsmanship, inspired by his father’s expertise.
In 1996, Jimmy Choo co-founded Jimmy Choo Ltd, a brand that would soon become synonymous with high-end, handmade women’s shoes. His shoes, renowned for their exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail, quickly gained a loyal following among fashion connoisseurs worldwide.
However, Choo later made a significant business decision by selling 50% of his company stock to his co-founder, Tamara Mellon. Despite this, his name remained a symbol of luxury and style in the world of fashion. His creations have graced the feet of celebrities, royalty, and fashion-forward individuals alike.
8. Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary
Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary is a famous businessman and good-hearted person from Malaysia. He was born on December 12, 1951, in a place called Alor Setar, Kedah. He comes from a family that originally came from Yemen.
When he was a young boy, he moved to Johor Bahru for a while and then returned to Alor Setar. He went to St. Michael’s Secondary School. While he was still in school, he helped his dad with their cattle business.
But something sad happened. There was a disease called Foot-and-mouth disease that made their cattle business fail. Because of this, he couldn’t finish his studies in school because his family didn’t have enough money for his exams.
With the money he saved from helping his dad with the cattle business, Syed Mokhtar started his own business. And over the years, he became a very successful businessman and also started a charity called the Albukhary Foundation to help people in need.
9. Datuk Seri Vijay Eswaran
Datuk Seri Vijay Eswaran is a successful business leader from Malaysia. He was born in Penang in 1960 to parents who worked very hard. His family moved around Malaysia when he was young. Vijay worked as a taxi driver in the UK to pay for his college education at the London School of Economics, where he earned a degree in Socioeconomics.
After graduating, he traveled around Europe and even spent time in a monastery, taking a vow of silence for 33 days. He then went on to get an MBA in the United States. Vijay started his career in multilevel marketing (MLM) while working for IBM’s subsidiary, Systematics.
In 1998, he returned to Malaysia and co-founded the QI Group of Companies, which does many different kinds of businesses, including education, hospitality, direct selling, financial services, and retail. He didn’t stop there; he also created the RYTHM Foundation and the Vijayaratnam Foundation, named after his father, to help others. Vijay Eswaran has written books about his experiences and success.
10. Datuk Dr Maznah Hamid
Datuk Dr. Maznah Hamid, fondly known as the “Iron Lady,” is a Malaysian entrepreneur whose journey from a challenging childhood to founding and leading a successful security company is truly inspirational. Her story symbolizes resilience and determination.
Maznah’s childhood was marked by adversity when her parents divorced when she was just five years old. Raised by her grandparents, she held onto her dream of becoming an entrepreneur, despite her grandfather’s skepticism about the path she aspired to take.
After pursuing an education in linguistics and working as a tutor and translator for embassies and multinational companies, her childhood ambition of entrepreneurship remained alive. Even after facing multiple loan rejections from various banks, she invested her entire RM5,000 savings into her own venture in a male-dominated industry.
Earning the title “Iron Lady,” Maznah became the first woman in Malaysia to lead a security company, Securiforce. Although she lacked prior business experience, her unwavering determination, hard work, and persistence propelled Securiforce into a multimillion-dollar company with over 6,000 employees and more than 65 branches today.