In a one-of-its-kind global online event recently, homegrown property tourism pioneer, Sheng Tai International (STI) in collaboration with IWG, the world’s largest flexible workspace provider, introduced life-changing opportunities to more than 20,000 viewers from around the world.
Themed ‘Cross Borders Without Crossing Borders’, the event featured top industry personalities in business, property, education, lifestyle and fashion from several countries.
Among them were Dato’ Leong Sir Ley, Founder and Chairman of Sheng Tai International; Matthew Kenley, Head of Pa rtnership Growth of IWG; Da to’ Sri Gavin Tee, Founder and President of SwhengTee Group; Dato’ Howard Chew, Founder and Chairman of Chester Properties; Wong Chui Ling, Founder of 28 Days Alliance; and Alona Fischbein, Founder of FashionTV.
Each gave insightful tips on seizing opportunities amid the pandemic. Emceed by a very lively and entertaining trio – Nicholas Leong, General Manager of STI; Caely See, and Terence Tea, Sales Manager of STI, the three-hour show had intervals where prizes amounting to RM188,000 were given out.
Some memorable gems of wisdom from the featured speakers included the following:
Dato’ Leong Sir Ley, Founder and Chairman of Sheng Tai International
“Despite the pandemic, there are still opportunities for businesses and individuals. For example, our flagship development, The Sail has a borderless appeal which speaks for itself. The Sail’s impact goes far beyond being just an architectural marvel – it is a growth catalyst which attracts investors of calibre from all over the world.
“We have sold three out of nine towers of The Sail to Hong Kong investors.
“Even during the pandemic, we have been attracting many investors into Melaka. In March 2021 alone, we brought in RM30 mil cash sales, in which the balance payment will be made upon the purchasers’ arrival in Malaysia.
“This shows people have confidence in the country that despite border closures, they are still willing to make online purchases even for big-ticket items.
“Business still continues although on a virtual platform. This is what we intend to do in partnership with IWG – through its virtual offices, we can become a window of investment into Melaka, helping to revive Melaka as a trade centre and a base for globalisation endeavours.
“We want to bring people from all over the world to come to Melaka to set up their businesses and experience life here. We have a full suite of services including hospitality, F&B, creative team, etc, to help them to settle down here.
“The state of Melaka is a brand by itself, having a unique legacy that goes back hundreds of years. As an example, nowhere else in the world can you find baba and nyonya cuisine; we have plans to get a Michelin nod for this unique collection of dishes.
“Once the borders reopen, we expect Melaka to be one of the hottest destinations for tourists. As the pandemic has prevented a lot of travel and spending, people will have a lot more disposable income and will spend with a passion.
“We also have a deal with FashionTV to set up F Café, a unique F&B concept that blends haute couture with haute cuisine. We plan to open 10 outlets within three years.
“As for the fashion industry, we will rock the world by starting many endeavours for the first time such as exchanging models between Malaysia and Europe; and setting up a Fashion Academy to tra in models. The academy will also serve as a link to fashion designers. We have a roadmap to do this – fashion can take on an entrepreneurial angle for the benefit of everyone.”
Matthew Kenley, Head of Partnership Growth of IWG
“Travel restrictions caused by the pandemic should not deter overseas expansions. Instead, businesses ought to continue exploring opportunities abroad.
“Choosing the right local partner with a proven track record and extensive network allows businesses to have operations in a different market without the need to go through the time-consuming and expensive process of setting up a foreign entity.
“There is a massive shift in the workspace revolution now – this is the future of work – where many companies are starting to use flexible offices. The opportunity is in Southeast Asia now for savvy international investors over the next six months to set up in futuristic developments like The Sail in Melaka.
“We will be setting up at The Sail because it ticks all the right boxes – it offers fully integrated features that allow you to work near home while at the same time having your health needs met with a wellness centre.”
Dato Sri Gavin Tee, Founder & President of Swhengtee Group
“I believe we need to ‘study global to invest local’. The pandemic presents the greatest investment opportunity in 100 years. Industries that will see a strong rebound include property and tourism, infrastructure, education, medical, and tourism attractions.
“With the ongoing global trade wars and increasing discriminations around the world, Malaysia will emerge as one of the best investment destinations in the world within the next 10 years.”
Wong Chui Ling, Founder of 28 Days Alliance
“Postnatal care including confinement for nursing mothers used to be traditionally taken care of by old ladies. It took us awhile to change that perception but we managed to do that successfully in the past four years. Now, it’s considered a critical, even sexy, job opportunity. We are attracting a lot of investors too and so far have opened about 300 centres.
“With the ongoing pandemic, we believe postnatal care in a modern setting will be a trend going forward. Melaka has affordable health ca re with many different options including Western and Chinese style. It’s ha rd to find this combination anywhere else. In Melaka especially, all the multicultural elements a re in one setting – that’s why we have chosen The Sail to set up our international postnatal care centre.”
Dato Howard Chew, Founder of Chester Properties
“Every property that I invest in must have three key elements: 1). Location – for example, Melaka is a great strategic location which attracts international tourists. 2). Development concept – The Sail is a great example because of its futuristic and international outlook. 3). The key person – in this case, Dato Leong whom I have known for over 10 years. She has a great track record. Many famous people have bought into her projects, so you don’t have to think too much when considering STI projects.”
Alona Fischbein, Founder of FashionTV
“We would love to promote Malaysia and especially Melaka as a fashion hub of Southeast Asia. Also, our fashion models will love the ‘model exchange’ programme proposed by Da to Leong in her roadmap.”
Workspaces in Melaka get a shot in the arm
In March, Sheng Tai International (STI) signed a franchise deal with IWG to collaborate in opening flexible workspaces in Malaysia.
STI has injected RM8 mil into three centres slated to open in the company’s commercial properties in Melaka ; including The Sail.
Tuan Yang Terutama Tun Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Ali Bin Mohd Rustam, Yang di-Pertua Negeri Melaka, was present to witness the signing ceremony.
Representing STI a t the signing event and exchange of documents was Da to’ Leong Sir Ley, Founder and Chairman of Sheng Tai International. IWG was represented by Premita Dhaliwal, Head of Partnership Growth – Malaysia.
Commenting on the deal, Dato Leong said: “We believe this is the right time to invest in the flexible workspace industry in Malaysia, especially in Melaka, in line with the optimistic outlook post-COVID-19 for the state and country. We look forward to opening more such workspaces throughout Malaysia in the next five years.”
Gareth Haver, Regional Chief Executive Officer of IWG, said, “When we decided to open up franchising opportunities, we needed strong partners who share our vision and values. Sheng Tai International has ambition, a solid track record, and I believe their ability to attract global brands here during the pandemic is a testament to this.”