Entrepreneur wants a life rich in giving

Entrepreneur wants a life rich in giving

Singapore - Mr Derek Goh's dream is to leave behind an entrepreneurship school. That will be his most endearing legacy, he hopes, teaching the poor how to fish and fend for themselves, amid rising social inequality.

He says he wants to help others home in on the best angling spots, select the right tackle, net the best catch possible. And then he wants to train them how best to steam, barbecue, or grill the fish, then serve it delectably and profitably to the table.

In a manner of speaking, of course.

The executive chairman and group CEO of electronics component distributor Serial System is starting small on his big dreams.

He has begun lecturing on entrepreneurship at Australia's Swinburne University in Malaysia to transmit his business know-how gleaned from hard knocks. He also plans to start two charitable foundations here in the next few years to benefit abandoned elderly and poor kids.

Tonight, at Serial System's 25th anniversary dinner at Resorts World Sentosa, he will be announcing that the company is committing $100,000 apiece yearly to all five Community Development Councils (CDCs) starting next year for three years.

Through Taoist religious group Zhi Zhen Tan Dao Xue Hui, which he founded seven years ago to do charity, he has pledged to donate another $50,000 each to the five CDCs over the next three years. If it fails to raise that, he will personally underwrite the shortfall.

Under a dollar matching system, the Government will top up his $2.25 million donation to a total of $4.5 million over three years. He chose this "one for one" donation route, simply, to maximize bang for his buck.

Call it an orchestrated image makeover, or what you will.

But the embattled businessman wants to redefine what it means to be rich and up the ante on giving back here. Through his own example, he wants the boast of the wealthy to be about how much they've contributed to others. And the 51-year-old is putting his money where his mouth is.

He says that he has personally given away over $5 million to causes to date. From Hindu, Buddhist to Taoist temples, scholarships and bursaries, to the blind, transport vouchers for senior citizens, school lunch boxes for poor children, he says he has given away at least $200,000 a year minimum and over $1 million at his peak.

He has no formula for giving, he doesn't do percentages or calculate tax incentives, it just depends on what he "feels like". "If they ask, I feel okay, then I donate," he says matter-of-factly.

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