Eco-Business has welcomed a new strategic investor — Steve Melhuish, co-founder of Southeast Asia’s largest proptech platform PropertyGuru — who has taken an equity stake in Eco-Business.
The award-winning entrepreneur is an active angel investor and mentor who in 2019 founded investment firm Planet Rise to help companies tackle climate change and social inequality.
Melhuish will be joining the Eco-Business international advisory board and support the social enterprise as it continues to expand its ESG and sustainability services and thought leadership in the region.
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The latest news follows an investment earlier this year by private equity firm Tembusu Partners, which specialises in supporting growth ventures across Asia.
Founded in 2009, Eco-Business is Asia Pacific’s leading media and business intelligence organisation dedicated to sustainable development. It is headquartered in Singapore and has a presence in Beijing, Manila, Zurich and New York. It recently hired Ruba Nackeeran as country head for Malaysia, based in Kuala Lumpur, to expand its presence in the region.
It publishes trusted news and views in multimedia formats and curates thought leadership events on business and policy developments around the world with a sustainability and ESG-focused lens.
The Eco-Business website is the region’s largest sustainability platform which receives more than 2 million unique visitors per year and enjoys more than 3 million page views. It houses more than a decade-long archive of information on sustainable development issues in the region and globally.
“Steve joins us at an exciting moment in our history as we expand our solutions and thought leadership activities across the region. It is a reflection of the growing momentum ESG and sustainability concerns globally,” said Eco-Business founder and managing director Jessica Cheam.
“With his deep expertise in scaling tech start-ups, as well as his passion and commitment to helping sustainability-focused companies scale their impact, he’s well-positioned to help us take Eco-Business into the next phase of growth. We are excited to welcome him as an investor and on our advisory board,” she added.
Last month, at its flagship forum on sustainable finance Unlocking capital for sustainability, hosted in partnership with United Nations Environment Programme, Eco-Business launched a new global sustainability innovation platform called The SDG Co.
This tech-driven platform connects start-ups, corporates, governments and investors working on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and provide a global community space where people and businesses across the globe can network, exchange ideas, and build professional and personal skills and capabilities.
Its partners include Global Opportunities for Sustainable Development Goals (GO4SDGs), Temasek Foundation, Innovation x Sustainability Alliance, EB Impact, FundedHere, Tembusu Partners and the Climate Action SG Alliance.
Jen Loong has joined the team as associate director and product manager help lead the growth and development of The SDG Co. Loong previously led venture building and investments across groups like Standard Chartered Ventures, C Ventures and HYPE Asia.
The platform is an extension of Eco-Business’s work in the sustainability innovation ecosystem. Since 2018, it has led The Liveability Challenge, a global innovation challenge presented by Temasek Foundation which offers the largest grant funding in Asia to sustainability start-ups.
Melhuish — who has also been a judge and investor for two editions of The Liveability Challenge – grew PropertyGuru with his co-founder from a staff of two to a unicorn market leading proptech in South East Asia used by over 37 million consumers monthly.
He stepped back from the CEO role and handed over all operational responsibilities in 2018 but remains active on the board as non-executive director.
“I’m incredibly impressed by what Jessica and the Eco-Business team have achieved over the last 12 years - building the leading sustainability media and intelligence platform in Asia. I’m excited to be playing a small part in the Company’s future, bringing my experience of scaling tech businesses with my passion for climate and social impact,” said Melhuish, founder and CEO of Planet Rise.
Steve is a limited partner and venture partner at Wavemaker Partners focused on sustainability and has supported the development of South East Asia’s start-up ecosystem over the last 16 years as angel investor and mentor.
His portfolio today includes over 15 green technology firms focused on clean energy, clean water, clean air, sustainable food, circular economy, migrant worker rights and women-led social enterprises.
He is a member of Entrepreneur Organization (EO), Asian Venture and Philanthropy Network (AVPN) and Top Tier Impact (TTI). Steve supports various sustainability programmes such as Habitat For Humanity’s Sheltertech accelerator, Capitaland’s Sustainable Buildings accelerator and charities including FoodBank, Asia Startup Network (low income families) and LightHouse (migrant workers). Steve regularly speaks at conferences and media on VC, start-up and sustainability topics.
Junice Yeo, executive director, Eco-Business, said: “The global pandemic around the world has brought ESG and sustainability issues to the forefront. A sustainable recovery is critical for Asia Pacific to reduce the risk of future pandemics, transition to a low carbon economy, create jobs and increase competitiveness.”
Yeo is based in Beijing and leads Eco-Business’s China and North Asia expansion. It welcomed Ng Wai Mun to its editorial team this week as its regional correspondent. Ng comes with a decade of experience and was formerly the political correspondent at Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore’s Chinese-language flagship daily.
“We are excited to welcome new team members, and to have Steve join our leadership team to help Eco-Business capitalize on the opportunities ahead and provide its thought leadership and services to our partners across the region.”