Chia Wen Shin, 28, Entrepreneur
Environmentally conscious and crazy intelligent, Chia Wen Shin has been building on her vision of her business since she was a young student. Her social enterprise, Green Yards, has gained worldwide recognition (i.e. Forbes 30 Under 30, no less) and she’s just getting started. Always challenging herself to venture into the unknown, Wen Shin is fearless and ready to take on amazing opportunities that come her way.
Please describe what it is you are; and/or what you do.
I am the Founder of Green Yards, where we reduce water pollution by collecting used cooking oil from both households and restaurants, and re-process it into eco-cleaning powder and candles.
How was it when you were first starting out? How did you first start out?
I graduated 4 years ago with a degree in environmental science and technology. Deep in my heart, I knew I wanted to do something related to the environment. I decided to turn one of my university projects into a full-fledged business where I reduce water pollution by providing a platform for the community to recycle their used cooking oil.
The idea of my company came up when I did this project during my university studies. I found out that the recycle bin for newspaper and aluminium cans are so common, but there’s none for used cooking oil.
How did you feel when you were featured as Forbes 30 Under 30 in Asia? How has this recognition contributed to your career?
I am humbled to see my work getting noticed alongside so many inspiring people across Asia. This recognition definitely opened doors to more opportunities and raised awareness among the community about the existence of our services.
“Deep in my heart, I knew I wanted to do something related to the environment. I decided to turn one of my university projects into a full-fledged business where I reduce water pollution by providing a platform to recycle used cooking oil.”
Could you tell us about your experience in the Queen’s Young Leaders programme? What did you gain from the programme?
It was an eye opening experience to be able to learn from leaders and change makers across Commonwealth countries to share our experience and learn from each other. At the same time, we got to attend a Leading Change course by Cambridge University which exposed us to more in-depth knowledge on making a positive impact. Most importantly, we got to make connections with a bunch of like-minded leaders and act as a support group for each other in our coming journey.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
I have learnt along the way that it’s good for a business to stay focused at your core business/ value especially during the early stage. Often times, we want to do too many things and try to excel in every aspect thinking it will bring in extra revenue channel that we lose focus and end up making no significant progress in all channels.
A jack of all trades is a master of none. I think it’s good for a start-up to stay focused and be the best in the vertical that they are working on before expansion.
What are your long-term goals for Green Yards?
My long term goals for Green Yards is to make grease recycling easy, convenient and common for the community.
What would you say to young women who are looking to do what you’re doing?
I always live by one of my favourite quotes by Richard Branson — if someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you are not sure you can do it, say yes, and then learn how to do it later.
I believe that we’re only able to grow by constantly accepting new challenges and being uncomfortable. Step out of your comfort zone!
Special thanks to Tropicana Gardens Property Gallery for venue assistance during the shoot.