Olivia Lum – CEO and President of Singapore based water and power company Hyflux Ltd., is having a hard time as her company is on the verge of insolvency. This is leading thousands of stakeholders in fear of losing their hard-earned money invested in the company.
58-year-old Lum, an internationally accoladed female entrepreneur inspired many with her ‘rags to riches’ success story. Lum who was abandoned by her parents in a hospital after she was born, is known to have faced severe difficulties before founding Hyflux. Having lived for years in a shack without water, she migrated to Singapore at the age of 15 and supported her studies by herself.
Later, Lum graduated in chemistry from National University of Singapore. Throughout her studies, she undertook a part-time job as a tutor, sometimes a saleswoman or a fruit seller. She credits her difficult days to her success and claimed that selling papaya and other fruits along the streets trained her as an entrepreneur.
Recently, the financial conditions of the company worsened and it is standing on the verge of insolvency. Commenting on the current situation of the company, The Energy Market Authority (EMA) of Singapore stated that it is the “result of its own commercial decisions”. On the other hand, Lum stated that the present brunt is because of the “depressed electricity prices in Singapore”.
Those who have invested in the company’s stocks are shocked, wandering how can such a successful company collapse so fast. Some of the investors who participated in a protest outside the office of Hyflux claimed that they had invested in the company with the leap of faith in Olivia Lum and not the company. Some of them still believes that Lum will be able to handle the adverse situation and will soon overturn the risk of insolvency.
Her fellow Singapore based Entrepreneur – Elim Chew said, “She’s a fighter, she’ll fight for what she believes in and do whatever she can to turn this around. It’s just sad it’s her because it’s so close to home. When you’re up there, everyone’s your friend. When you’re going down, only a few true friends will be there.”
The company is in the process of negotiating the terms of the reorganization with the potential investors as well as its stakeholders under the supervision of the court. It will be interesting to see how Lum will overcome this difficult phase of her company which she has established with her own blood and sweat.