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MARKETS & INVESTING | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Olivia Lum is first woman to win Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year Award

She grew her water company from a $15,000 startup in 1989 to a US$450 million company last year.

Olivia Lum, Group CEO and president of Hyflux Limited, from Singapore, was last night named the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011 at an awards ceremony held in Monte Carlo’s Salle des Etoiles. Olivia was picked from among the 49 country finalists vying for the title, each of whom had already been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year in their home countries. This year saw more female finalists - six in total – than ever before.

Olivia founded Hyflux in 1989 with two staff and start-up capital of $US15,000. Today, Hyflux has become one of the world’s leading desalination suppliers. It is publicly traded with revenues of US$450m, employing more than 2,300 people in operations and projects in Southeast Asia, China, India, the Middle East and North Africa.

Tan Sri Francis Yeoh Sock Ping, Managing Director, YTL Group of Companies and Chairman of the judging panel said, "Olivia’s entrepreneurial spirit and the immense social and health benefits her work brings make her an exceptional winner of World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011."

"I’m very happy to accept this award on behalf of all the employees at Hyflux. For me, this reinforces there are no difficulties you can’t overcome when you have faced the challenges of hunger and poverty," said Olivia. "It is a great honor to have been selected from among such a fantastic group of entrepreneurs."

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