Invest green in ASEAN: Here’s how

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Eco-Ideal CEO Soon Hun Yang
Eco-Ideal CEO Mr Soon Hun Yang

Eco-Ideal is an environmental management consultancy based in Kuala Lumpur and Kuching that specialises in solid-waste and carbon advisory management, as well as renewable energy services and environmental information systems. Coming off of a project that gained RM 15 million in carbon-reduction credits, Eco-Ideal CEO Mr Soon Hun Yang sat down with Inside Investor to tell us more about the profits behind eco-conscious ideas.

Q: Having set up operations in 2003, how has your business developed?

A: The company started in 2003 as a one-man consultancy starring myself because at the time I wasn’t very sure about the market. Ten years later, we are a team of 14 people and I think this is the right size for a consultancy in this market. We have two offices: one in Kuala Lumpur and one in Kuching, so our operations are mainly in Malaysia, with 60 per cent of the work done in Peninsular Malaysia and the rest in Sarawak. We also have some projects in China, Singapore and Indonesia, but these are more short-term assignments.

Q: Does Kuala Lumpur-based Greentech Malaysia offer similar services as you?

A: No, they are focusing on projects and studies commissioned mainly by the government. We do similar things, but the private sector, as well as the government on occasion, commissions us. We differentiate ourselves by specialising in solid waste and carbon advisory management, as well as renewable energy services and environmental information systems. Eco-Ideal also assists clients with setting up comprehensive databases and application systems for managing environmental data. Eco-Ideal also facilitates and provides consultancy in carbon-reduction projects, which is international in nature as it deals with addressing climate change as per the guidelines of the UN. We are one of the pioneers in this area in Malaysia.

Q:  Are there any companies in ASEAN providing similar services as you?

A: Of course there are also similar consultancies in Vietnam and Indonesia, which are just examples of some of the countries focusing on carbon-reduction projects. In Malaysia, the market is quite small so everyone in this industry segment knows each other very well.

Q: Is the market here small because there are barriers to enter it or because there is a general lack of skills?

A: Getting involved in these projects requires knowing the local conditions and requirement. For example, a lot of projects are related to the palm oil industry and they are quite unique. Many other consultancies aren’t so familiar with this niche industry.

Q: What are some of your more monumental flagship projects?

A: In Sarawak, we assist the government to set up the state’s integrated environmental database (GeoEnviron Environmental Information Management System), a project that began in 2003. This database allows different agencies to connect to the same system and is fostered in the government’s ICT department. We are still providing support and maintenance for the system. For us, the major breakthrough was implementing something that allowed the easy flow and sharing of data among different agencies. Now this system has been expanded to the entire state so the data is available to not only Kuching.

Q: There is an increased demand for environmental consulting due to the growth of the industry in Sarawak, not just in manufacturing, but in niches such as palm oil as you mentioned.  What can you offer in these segments?

A: When it comes to the environment, many businesses are typically concern about the cost. Our perception is that we should add value as a consultant. What we are trying to do is to focus on areas where we can add value to businesses that was not there before through investments geared towards the environment. For example, one of our clients is extracting landfill gas and they have so far received revenue of RM 15 million from sales of carbon reduction credits as a result of implementing the project.  In addition, they are also earning good revenue from exporting the power generated from the landfill gas. They have managed to reduce pollution and make reasonable profit, so it is a good project. This is the model we are trying to push towards industry players. We say: Don’t see the environment as a burden; see it as an opportunity.

Q: Do you think the overall approach to the environment from the business community has changed much in recent years?

A: I do see some changes because of the push from government, but overall it has been slow. However, the promotion of renewable energy and tax incentives for the implementation of green technology has helped change the mindset of some companies. Yet this process is still not fast enough.

Q: How is your turnover developing?

A: So far, 2013 is turning out to be our best year. The last three or four years we have seen stable growth, but this year we have really taken off. We have seen profits for many years already, of course as a consultancy firm our profits are not very large but there is a sizeable turnover.

Q: What challenges do you see in the next 12 to 18 months?

A: The biggest one will be the outcome of the general election. Uncertainty is certainly a big challenge. In terms of our business, the challenges will continue to be convincing company leaders to invest in the environment and environmental-related activities. In Malaysia, the market is generally likely to follow what others have done. They are afraid of being the guinea pig. Having successful case studies and projects we have done is good to display to potential clients.

Q: Are there any CSR initiatives are you involved in?

A. Eco-Ideal has provided assistance and guidance in setting up a community-based recycling center in Kuching, which is run by volunteers paid with some minimal allowance. This center has been growing for 10 years and is able to self-sustain.

 

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Eco-Ideal CEO Mr Soon Hun Yang

Eco-Ideal is an environmental management consultancy based in Kuala Lumpur and Kuching that specialises in solid-waste and carbon advisory management, as well as renewable energy services and environmental information systems. Coming off of a project that gained RM 15 million in carbon-reduction credits, Eco-Ideal CEO Mr Soon Hun Yang sat down with Inside Investor to tell us more about the profits behind eco-conscious ideas.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Eco-Ideal CEO Soon Hun Yang
Eco-Ideal CEO Mr Soon Hun Yang

Eco-Ideal is an environmental management consultancy based in Kuala Lumpur and Kuching that specialises in solid-waste and carbon advisory management, as well as renewable energy services and environmental information systems. Coming off of a project that gained RM 15 million in carbon-reduction credits, Eco-Ideal CEO Mr Soon Hun Yang sat down with Inside Investor to tell us more about the profits behind eco-conscious ideas.

Q: Having set up operations in 2003, how has your business developed?

A: The company started in 2003 as a one-man consultancy starring myself because at the time I wasn’t very sure about the market. Ten years later, we are a team of 14 people and I think this is the right size for a consultancy in this market. We have two offices: one in Kuala Lumpur and one in Kuching, so our operations are mainly in Malaysia, with 60 per cent of the work done in Peninsular Malaysia and the rest in Sarawak. We also have some projects in China, Singapore and Indonesia, but these are more short-term assignments.

Q: Does Kuala Lumpur-based Greentech Malaysia offer similar services as you?

A: No, they are focusing on projects and studies commissioned mainly by the government. We do similar things, but the private sector, as well as the government on occasion, commissions us. We differentiate ourselves by specialising in solid waste and carbon advisory management, as well as renewable energy services and environmental information systems. Eco-Ideal also assists clients with setting up comprehensive databases and application systems for managing environmental data. Eco-Ideal also facilitates and provides consultancy in carbon-reduction projects, which is international in nature as it deals with addressing climate change as per the guidelines of the UN. We are one of the pioneers in this area in Malaysia.

Q:  Are there any companies in ASEAN providing similar services as you?

A: Of course there are also similar consultancies in Vietnam and Indonesia, which are just examples of some of the countries focusing on carbon-reduction projects. In Malaysia, the market is quite small so everyone in this industry segment knows each other very well.

Q: Is the market here small because there are barriers to enter it or because there is a general lack of skills?

A: Getting involved in these projects requires knowing the local conditions and requirement. For example, a lot of projects are related to the palm oil industry and they are quite unique. Many other consultancies aren’t so familiar with this niche industry.

Q: What are some of your more monumental flagship projects?

A: In Sarawak, we assist the government to set up the state’s integrated environmental database (GeoEnviron Environmental Information Management System), a project that began in 2003. This database allows different agencies to connect to the same system and is fostered in the government’s ICT department. We are still providing support and maintenance for the system. For us, the major breakthrough was implementing something that allowed the easy flow and sharing of data among different agencies. Now this system has been expanded to the entire state so the data is available to not only Kuching.

Q: There is an increased demand for environmental consulting due to the growth of the industry in Sarawak, not just in manufacturing, but in niches such as palm oil as you mentioned.  What can you offer in these segments?

A: When it comes to the environment, many businesses are typically concern about the cost. Our perception is that we should add value as a consultant. What we are trying to do is to focus on areas where we can add value to businesses that was not there before through investments geared towards the environment. For example, one of our clients is extracting landfill gas and they have so far received revenue of RM 15 million from sales of carbon reduction credits as a result of implementing the project.  In addition, they are also earning good revenue from exporting the power generated from the landfill gas. They have managed to reduce pollution and make reasonable profit, so it is a good project. This is the model we are trying to push towards industry players. We say: Don’t see the environment as a burden; see it as an opportunity.

Q: Do you think the overall approach to the environment from the business community has changed much in recent years?

A: I do see some changes because of the push from government, but overall it has been slow. However, the promotion of renewable energy and tax incentives for the implementation of green technology has helped change the mindset of some companies. Yet this process is still not fast enough.

Q: How is your turnover developing?

A: So far, 2013 is turning out to be our best year. The last three or four years we have seen stable growth, but this year we have really taken off. We have seen profits for many years already, of course as a consultancy firm our profits are not very large but there is a sizeable turnover.

Q: What challenges do you see in the next 12 to 18 months?

A: The biggest one will be the outcome of the general election. Uncertainty is certainly a big challenge. In terms of our business, the challenges will continue to be convincing company leaders to invest in the environment and environmental-related activities. In Malaysia, the market is generally likely to follow what others have done. They are afraid of being the guinea pig. Having successful case studies and projects we have done is good to display to potential clients.

Q: Are there any CSR initiatives are you involved in?

A. Eco-Ideal has provided assistance and guidance in setting up a community-based recycling center in Kuching, which is run by volunteers paid with some minimal allowance. This center has been growing for 10 years and is able to self-sustain.

 

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