With all the global conflict, positive news is always welcome and Singapore’s Forward Singapore initiative feels like just that. It is about what they call a shift in the Singapore Dream – “no longer solely about material success but now includes fulfilment, meaning and purpose.” (Read more) When this is the dream, it usually implies that the bottom tiers in the hierarchy of needs have been fulfilled. What can a country that is still very much trying to find success with the most basic needs, learn from the Singapore model?
Singapore seems to get it right despite being one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Their economy is highly developed and has been ranked as the “most open in the world, the joint 4th-least corrupt, and the most pro-business. Singapore has low tax-rates and the highest per-capita GDP in the world in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP).” (Read more) Well, that is something to strive for, isn’t it?! I listened to a talk show on local radio station, RSG, earlier this week discussing exactly this topic – what South Africa can learn from Singapore. (Listen to it in Afrikaans.)
I think the three pillars mentioned in the radio interview speak to the core of so many of our challenges:
- Meritocracy – The focus is on merit. Capitalising on the expertise you have. Seems silly not to, doesn’t it?
- Pragmatism – “Evaluating theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application.” I understand this as: Get the job done. Sometimes this means marrying different ideologies and policies, but the result is efficiency.
- Honesty – Imagine a world without corruption! Of course, there are always those with a scheme and a sly plan – even in Singapore, a major money laundering scheme made the headlines earlier this year. The difference is – it made the headlines, assets were seized and arrests made.
Oh, how we wish this for our country, but while we are wishing, perhaps we can measure our own businesses against these three points. Are we really making the most of our human resources, applying them where they will make a difference? Are we critical about our company policies? I believe in staying true to the character and integrity of your brand and business, but it is worthwhile to reconsider your rules. Are they still relevant? Do they serve efficiency and success? We often think about honesty in its most simplistic form: not being corrupt and not abusing company resources, etc., but honesty in the form of transparency is also crucial. It can be quite the challenge to do an honest evaluation of your success – to take ego and pride and all the emotion out of the equation.
There’s no denying that we can learn from Singapore in the way they govern and run their economy, but is there something they can learn from us? Perhaps how to make wine? Although still modest, Singapore has its own wine industry, predominantly run by foreign winemakers. There might be an opportunity to get involved from a winemaking perspective, but the real opportunity, in my opinion, is rather in Singapore being called one of the two “brighter spots in the premium wine universe” by Wine Intelligence. (Read more)
According to the Inkwood Research report on the Singapore wine market, the market was “valued at $634.50 million in 2022 and is expected to reach $947.23 million by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 5.77% during the forecast period, 2023-2030.”
Why is Singapore such a promising market for wine? Singapore is a city-state with a cosmopolitan culture that is open to wine consumption. This is further supported by increasing numbers of visitors and wine-drinking expats. The local wine market has well-established importers, wholesalers, and retailers competing with excellent portfolios. With wine only responsible for about 10% of the beer-dominated alcohol wine market, there is also much potential and room to keep growing. With access to South-east Asia and excellent logistics expertise, Singapore can also be the ideal hub for re-export to nearby markets. Private collectors and auctions offer additional opportunity. Being a stable economy with good purchasing power (particularly from an experimental younger generation) doesn’t hurt either, especially as hefty import fees and taxes do make wine expensive. (Do read this detailed article about the appeal of the Singapore wine market by Debra Meiburg for Meininger’s.)
What I enjoy about a developing wine market like Singapore, is the eagerness to learn and experiment. There is still that sense of excitement when it comes to trying and tasting. This is something we also have in the non-traditional local wine market. But there is a lot to say for doing business in a healthy and active economic environment with a focus on efficiency and honesty. It is a reality in Singapore and while it might be a stretch for us at the moment, one can always dream.