A Decade of Business Exchanges, a Lifetime of Friendships

10 years of Singapore-China friendship forged through the Young Business Ambassadors (YBA) programme celebrated with launch of commemorative book.

Lifelong friendships form the backbone of the YBA story – young business leaders from Singapore and Shanghai who started out as colleagues, but ended up as close friends, after working and living in each other’s cities.

We celebrated a decade of these enduring friendships and cultural insights gained through the YBA, with the launch of a commemorative book, “A Decade of Business Exchanges; a Lifetime of Friendships”. The book features the perspectives and experiences of 16 Chinese and 17 Singaporean YBAs, as well as four company representatives from host organisations.

One such story featured in the book is that of Roy Leong (2008) and Zhou Ji (2010), who went from participants of the programme to bosom buddies. Both are part of a growing YBA network of 90 alumni and over 50 host organisations that contribute to the rich tapestry of relationships between the people of Singapore and Shanghai.

Singaporean alumnus Roy said of his 10-week business and cultural immersion experience, “YBA has been an integral part of my personal and professional growth journey, allowing me to gain new experiences and networks that have been invaluable.”

For Zhou Ji, the friendships he made blossomed into partnerships to do good and enabled him to make a positive difference. He said: “The exchange programme in Singapore gave me broader business perspectives in my area of specialisation, and as a result of our shared experiences, I even formed strong friendships with many of the Singaporean YBA alumni. Last year, a group of us went to earthquake-ravaged Sichuan, China, to help in the reconstruction efforts there.”

Started in 2004, YBA enables outstanding young professionals to gain new insights and experiences working and living in each other’s cities for periods of up to three months, and in doing so, strengthen relationships between Singaporeans and the Chinese community. The programme is organised annually by the SIF in partnership with the Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (SPAFFC) and Shanghai Administration for Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA).

Gracing the celebrations of the programme’s 10th anniversary in Singapore, Minister of State for Ministry of Communications and Information Sim Ann, said, “SIF’s YBA programme has helped nurture meaningful relationships between young business leaders in Singapore and China over the past decade. Young business leaders have the opportunity to live and work in each other’s cities and be immersed in each other’s culture. Many of the YBA alumni have shared that they have formed valuable friendships and gained a deeper understanding of their counterparts. I believe this has contributed to closer links between the two countries.”

Also present at the celebrations was former SIF governor Professor Cham Tao Soon, who played an integral part in the growth of the YBA programme. The Shanghai Municipal People’s Government presented him with the Magnolia Silver Award in 2013 for his outstanding contributions to Singapore-Shanghai ties.

Professor Cham said, “I am glad the interests and the range of companies participating in the programme have grown from strength to strength over the years which augers well for the future of the Singapore-China YBA programme. May it prosper further and lead to another successful ten years!”

The commemorative book was presented to (third from right) Guest-of-Honour Minister of State Sim Ann, Chinese Counsellor Zhai Xingfu, and former SIF Governor Cham Tao Soon, by SIF principals (from left) Governor Elim Chew, Executive Director Jean Tan and Governor David Chong.

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