From commodities to social entrepreneurship. Find out why Paul Thoeng sees himself as a “wealth manager for the poor.”

What’s your story?
Converting from a commodities trader to a social entrepreneur between 2008 and 2014.  I funded a conversion of 60 hectares of farmland in Bali into organic rice culture. I am now transforming into a partnership broker. Recently I brokered and managed a co-operation between the Paira Daiza Foundation and the Indonesian NGO LINI on the conservation and restoration of the habitat of the animals.

Strengthening the business models of social enterprises and introducing a professional level of corporate governance should lead to access to cheap sustainable funding.

I work  on concepts as varied as hybrid financing, internalising positive externalities through to joint ventures between partners with complementary resources.

What excites you most about your industry?
Ever since I moved to the social industry I have been excited about the wonderful people I meet.
As most social actors are open to co-creation many innovative opportunities emerge.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Makassar Indonesia on January 16, 1964.
Although I grew up and got my education in Belgium, for most of my professional life I have been working with Asian counterparts.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore.
Law conscious business culture, great infrastructure, English as first Language.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Other people may be twice as intelligent, but if you work three times harder you could achieve more.

Who inspires you?
LKY , Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You will only succeed in the long run if your strategy includes quick wins.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing really. Setbacks and pain and suffering contribute to build a character necessary to transform.

How do you unwind?
Cooking for people I care about.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali because of the friends and of course Balinese culture and nature.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Poor Economics by Banerjee and Duflo.

Shameless plug for your business:
Trikaya , Wealth Manager of the Poor.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:


Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia.  He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries.  He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence.  A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.

Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <>

Connect with Callum here:
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