Darren Yaw Foo Hoe of Guardian Toys, a leading subscription-based STEM-focused toymaker, on Monday won a Business Media Group Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 award for ASEAN.
The young entrepreneurs' programme, now in its third edition, recognises outstanding young business leaders whose foresight, creativity and innovation made a significant impact in the past year.
Yaw was selected by a panel of independent judges from various sectors in finance, business, social enterprises and non-profit organisations. The award winners will be announced during an online ceremony in September.
Yaw will then join an elite group of former winners from around the region as lifetime members.
“Being named one of the Young Entrepreneurs of the Year 2021 award winners demonstrates the dedication of the whole Guardian team. Our mission has always been to make a difference in children’s lives by creating toys that stimulate education.
“We are proud that our success so far has been validated by being nominated for this esteemed award,” said Yaw, the founder and CEO of Guardian Toys, a Ho Chi Minh City-based educational toy company.
The ASEAN Entrepreneur Of The Year 2021 is one of the most prestigious regional competitions for entrepreneurs and emerging business leaders. Six factors are used to select the nominees: leadership; management; innovation and creativity; financial performance; impacts on society; organisational management and development; and future plans for growth.
Since its inception, the programme has expanded to include nominations from 25 cities in more than five countries in Southeast Asia including Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
National award winners were automatically considered for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2021 awards. Yaw is now in the running to compete for the first Asian Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2022.
“The ASEAN Entrepreneur Of The Year 2021 awards is growing from strength to strength. This is a reflection of the increasing wave of talent coming out of the region each year.
“We are honoured to celebrate outstanding ASEAN business talent like Darren Yaw Foo Hoe and welcome a new group of young change-makers and leaders into the fold,” said Business Media Group CEO Martin Carvalho.
Yaw exemplifies the Guardian Toys marketing promise of "Young Minds Matter" as he is always striving to improve creativity and innovation within the company. His unwavering commitment and limitless creative vision led him to recognise the need for better, world-class educational tools for elementary school children in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
Established in 2017, Yaw and his wife started Guardian Toys as young parents themselves who saw a gap in the market.
Since then they have expanded the company from three to more than 20 staff. Yaw founded the business on the concept of it caring for its community, which includes every employee, partner and end client.
As such, Yaw has developed a varied and lean leadership team that is united by the common goal of producing the highest-quality toys with integrity for quality, accessible education.
After the Covid-19 pandemic struck the region, the company decided to launch a monthly subscription service focusing on creative STEM-related activity projects for children aged three to 12.
“By engaging and playing with projects that mimic real-world science equipment, children are encouraged to explore and are exposed to different fields such as robotics,” Yaw said.
The subscription service has proven extremely popular, driven by online sales through its official website and other e-commerce sales channels with sales up by 40 per cent year-on-year.
The company hopes to expand into the Malaysian, Indonesian, Singaporean and Cambodian markets as soon as possible.
“We quickly realised that there was an opportunity to serve the needs of parents and children alike. We’re lucky that our products have been well received.
“We guarantee that everything we produce represents our beliefs and adheres to our high standards. Customer service has always been a priority. This is just the beginning of the achievements that we can do together, and the greatest are yet to come," Yaw said.