Henry Lim Bon Liong’s Hybrid Rice Venture Won Him an ASEAN Business Award

July 14th, 2017

When I first ventured into the rice business, I did not even know how much a kilo of rice costs. Now SL Agritech is the largest in the industry.” Henry Lim Bon Liong

Henry Lim Bon Liong is a venerated business icon whose success came from his own hard work and relentless entrepreneurial spirit. The head of the Sterling Group of companies, Lim Bon Liong’s key leadership and decision-making has led the group to secure its place as a market leader in their diversified ventures. Most recently, the group’s venture into agriculture has won the praise of local and international institutions, with the Manila Standard even hailing him as the “Bill Gates of hybrid rice”.

Henry Lim Bon Liong won the ASEAN Priority Sector Excellence Awards for Agriculture in 2015 for the performance of his company SL Agritech.

Henry Lim Bon Liong won the ASEAN Priority Sector Excellence Awards for Agriculture in 2015 for the performance of his company SL Agritech.

Lim Bon Liong was featured in Go Negosyo’s 10th year anniversary publication of Joey Concepcion’s 50 Inspiring Entrepreneurial Stories. In it, Henry Lim Bon Liong his untimely assumption of his father’s role at the helm of the company due to an unfortunate accident. At a young age, Lim Bon Liong was able to lead the once humble book store and photo business, into a thriving paper and notebooks manufacturer.

Lim Bon Liong shared that the company was able to stay ahead of their competition due to the quality and originality of their designs. Went most of their competitors focused on what was trendy, their company decided to invest in great design. This eventually led Sterling Paper products to be exported abroad.

However, it wasn’t Lim Bon Liong’s Sterling Paper or even his next venture, SL Properties, that led him to be one of the most talked about billionaires in the country. In 2000, Lim Bon Liong was inspired to launch SL Agritech in a bid to make the Philippines self-sufficient through hybrid rice, which he first learned about from China. SL Agritech was an ambitious project — one that required much research and resources from the Sterling Group with a high chance of not getting any returns for a long period of time. However, it was a risk that paid well eventually as SL Agritech eventually hit its winning rice variety — the SL-8H. This variety of rice is able to produce four times the national average of 3.3 metric tons per hectare at a whopping 14 metric tons per hectare.

From his interview in the Manila Standard, Lim Bon Liong shares about the struggles of SL Agritech is paving the way for the Philippines to become self-sufficient and eventually, a net exported in the coming years. “It was never easy, how we got we are now. Especially, when we ventured into agriculture. Money was not the only thing invested. Pain, frustration and hardships were on the top of the list. But basically frustration. When I bought the 40-hectare property in Laguna for the needed research facility, I almost backed out. P100-million [investment] for a 40-hectare land, that was really too much that time. But I bit the bullet,” said Lim.


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Since its establishment by ASEAN Leaders in 2003, the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) has been active in promoting public-private sector partnership and consultation to assist the integration of an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2017. In its efforts to bridge ASEAN Governments with its private sectors, the Council launched the ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) in 2007 to give recognition to enterprises that have contributed to the growth and prosperity of the ASEAN economy.

Join this year’s ASEAN Business Awards! Application Period: March 15 – July 20, 2017.  For more information about the ASEAN Business Awards 2017, please visit  www.aba2017.com