Class of 2021
Hong Kong native Kisum Chan and Malaysia-born Lincoln Lee were students at University College London when they co-founded Rice Inc., a social enterprise with ambitious goals to combat world hunger while alleviating poverty. Later joined by Zheyi Chia and Jonathan Ong, both based in Kuala Lumpur, they strengthened the company into one that is advocating for sustainable rice on a global scale.
Rice Inc. began when the Asian students learned that up to 26 million tonnes of the grain is wasted during production and that 70% of the world’s rice is produced by smallholder farmers without access to efficient drying equipment. They began providing producers with affordable and revolutionary rice dryers as well as the knowledge to create a sustainable operating model. Rice Inc. also sells rice made by cooperatives around the world, reinvesting profit into its programmes.
Awarded $1 million by former US President Bill Clinton in the 2018 Hult Prize finals, the project was always destined to go far, and with Kisum and Lincoln’s degrees in biomedical sciences, Jonathan’s background in accounting and management and Zheyi’s economics degree, the team have all the tools and knowledge for a successful and far-impacting business. Now Kisum and his colleagues are passionate about using their achievements to make the agricultural sector a more attractive career option. “A lot of young people don’t think they have what it takes to thrive in the agriculture sector, just like I never thought I’d be able to raise $1 million in investment when I was 19. My thinking was false,” he says.
“Agriculture isn’t as ‘sexy’ as tech in Silicon Valley. We’re changing that.” – Kisum Chan