History of
Hainanese Entrepreneurship

The Hainanese in Singapore have come a long way since the first Hainanese immigrants arrived, mostly from Wenchang and Qionghai, in Hainan Island, China. Being one of the last dialect groups to have made their way to Singapore, the pioneer Hainanese had to make do with menial and lowly paid jobs.

Lacking the connections and entrepreneurial opportunities that the earlier immigrants from other Chinese dialect groups had, many of the pioneer Hainanese found jobs as cooks and servants in British households and as coffeeshop helpers, hotel attendants and sailors. The Hainanese worked hard, perservered and were determined to improve their social situation. They honed their skills as cooks and coffeeshop helpers, and eventually saved enough to start their own businesses in the food and beverage industry. Others who had picked up skills as fitters, plumbers and electricians from sailing started their own engineering contracting businesses.

Thus began the journey of Hainanese entrepreneurs in Singapore and today, the Hainanese continue to make their mark in professional fields and in the business arena in Singapore. Hainan Business Chamber aims to be the conduit for Hainanese to develop their businesses further in Singapore and beyond.

If you’re interested to learn more about the history of Hainanese, you may refer to “External and Internal Perceptions of the Hainanese Community and Identity, Past and Present“, a thesis written by Han Ming Guang from NUS.