2. Goh Cheng Liang, $6.5B
Founder of Nippon Paint South-East Asia Group Goh Cheng Liang (90) started his entrepreneurship journey selling fishing nets during World War II.
In 1949, he realised that the British were auctioning off rotten paint, and, after experimenting with different solvents and chemicals, came up with his own line of Pigeon Paint – eventually experiencing a sharp rise in business after the Singapore Government imposed restrictions on imports.
Setting up his first paint shop in 1955, Goh made his own paints in a small factory before he became the main distributor for Nippon Paint in 1959, and currently owns a 39% stake in its Japanese parent company – Nippon Paint Holdings.
In 1974, he founded Wuthelam Holdings, his investment arm that has since invested in property, electronics, trading among others.