IF you’re a regular visitor to any urban mall in Malaysia, chances are you’d be very familiar with myNEWS – that modern network of somewhat indispensable convenience stores that offer everything from mobile data reloads to wholesome quick meals for all its patrons.
Since its inception in 1996, the brand has evolved from just a single newsstand to becoming the largest homegrown retail convenience store chain in Malaysia, with over 550 outlets nationwide at present. And yes, founder Dang Tai Luk can also be considered a role model for purposeful entrepreneurship in Malaysia.
After setting up his successful chain, the 59-year-old established initiatives that serve the communities around his business outlets and change lives. For instance, through the myNEWS corporate social responsibility initiative dubbed ‘Allowances That Allow’, donation boxes are placed in myNEWS outlets to collect loose change that’s channelled to underprivileged students all over the country.
Such thoughtful consideration and foresight are perhaps just some of the many reasons why Dang was named EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Malaysia in December. Dang shares the excitement he felt after winning the title: “You know, everybody joins a competition to win. I had read about the other Top Nominees and found them to be really good people. I was already so happy just to be nominated but I was really blown away when they declared me the winner during the awards gala night! I was really hoping to win as this is the most prestigious award I had ever been in the running for. It is a great inspiration for me to have picked it up in the end!”
Looking back at what he has achieved over the years, Dang reflects upon his choices right at the beginning of his journey. “I suppose you could say that I was quite bold and brave – a bit like a calf wondering in the wild, not knowing the dangers that lay in wait in the wilderness! I ventured into business without realising the consequences of not being able to get back the same job if I failed. I had always told myself that one day, I would start a business of my own and, eventually, I did – a newsstand business.”
Dang recalls facing all manner of challenges in his younger days, growing up in a rubber-tapping family with eight other siblings. “But because my parents were extremely hardworking, we managed to get by. In retrospect, my difficult childhood seems to have been the necessary condition that made me work to break away from hardship. Perhaps poverty does inspire one to work very hard to become a leader.”
In order to support a big family with increasing needs, such as children’s education, Dang remembers his father supplementing the family’s income by venturing into a small welding business. “This was when I was first exposed to the business world. I worked beside my father, first in the rubber plantation and later in a workshop, during every school break from primary one! I learned a lot by working beside this amazing man. He was committed, resourceful, and always able to find opportunities during difficult times.”
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