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Throwback: Benny Se Teo: First A Businessman, Then A Social Entrepreneur

Mr. Benny Se Teo, Founder and CEO of Eighteen Chefs.

Mr. Benny Se Teo, Founder and CEO of Eighteen Chefs.

The sharing session by Eighteen Chefs’s Mr. Benny Se Teo was insightful, and I distilled five perspectives. For instance, “If patrons come to Eighteen Chefs because it is a social enterprise, I will not be happy”, Mr. Teo mused. “They should be coming for the food, for the location, for the ambience”.

Read “Benny Se Teo: First A Businessman, Then A Social Entrepreneur“, and here’s a short excerpt:

““To have a million-dollar food and beverage (F&B) enterprise”, Mr. Benny Se Teo shared right from the get-go, “one needs to start with a billion dollars”. Speaking at “In Search of Purpose” – a session organised by the Central Singapore Community Development Council – his point was clear. The F&B industry is hard, and as a social entrepreneur the founder and CEO of restaurant chain Eighteen Chefs has to possess the business nous. Hearing his experiences in person for the first time, I was most struck by Mr. Teo’s pragmatism.

As a social enterprise Eighteen Chefs hires ex-offenders and youths-at-risk, who make up 25 per cent of his headcount.

His story is well-documented. Because of his addiction to heroin he spent 10 years in and out of the prison and the rehabilitation centre, and following his fifth release in 1993 – after rejections from six job interviews, with his criminal record – he “got a job that did not require an interview”. He bought a motorbike and pager to become a dispatch rider, and by 2000 he had his first business in the courier industry. A Chinese restaurant in 2005 was his first F&B venture, but he eventually joined the Apprentice Programme at celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, before opening his first Eighteen Chefs outlet at Eastpoint Mall in 2007.”

About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.


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