MELILEA Founder and Group Chairman Alan Wong had his epiphany in the early hours of the morning in 2001. “I had been trying to think of a business to introduce to the wellness industry when the idea hit me. It was 3am and I sat up in bed – I realised I needed to form a company that would transform lives and bring health, beauty and happiness to as many people as possible. This is how the name ‘MELILEA’ came to be – it means beautiful, healthy and happy,” Alan notes.
The following year, Alan and his wife and co-founder Stella Chin built the first company in the world to combine customer relationship marketing, franchising and distribution channels. Initially based in Malaysia, the MELILEA International Group of Companies has helped thousands of people transform their health and beauty from the inside out. With a start-up mentality, the business combines elements of social enterprise and e-business with alternative distribution channels including organic retail outlets, wellness and spa centres, and franchising channels, to advocate for its philosophy of living an organic lifestyle.
Within a year, the company’s revenue skyrocketed from US$2 million to more than US$30 million. Today, it has more than 260,000 distributors and a yearly turnover exceeding US$100 million. It has continued to expand from historical Malacca city to neighbouring Asian countries and beyond, winning multiple global recognition and several prestigious industry and enterprise awards along the way. The company continues to see year-on-year growth and increasing market penetration in Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong, and Alan hopes to expand to Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines soon.
“Our business philosophy has always been centred on community growth, beauty, health and happiness,” says Alan. “We’ve won a number of awards for our practices, efficiency and leadership and this recognition proves that what we’ve built is a business of equity, honesty and innovation.”
“Our business philosophy has always been centred on community growth, beauty, health and happiness.”
A leading example
Backed by almost 30 years’ experience in financial and corporate management, diversified investment portfolios and international customer relationship marketing, Alan leads his team in line with the philosophy that living an organic way of life and attaining health from the inside out is the key to a long, happy existence. Eager to share his knowledge with the next generation, Alan has become an icon in the business community, having mentored more than 300 entrepreneurial millionaires.
Credibility, integrity and an organic lifestyle are not only watchwords in MELILEA’s culture, but they are also a large part of the way Alan lives his life.
“A good leader must have a vision and mission and lead by example,” he says. “They must be trustworthy, honest and dedicated to serving their employees, business partners, distributors, consumers and the wider society.”
A pioneering, global, green corporation, MELILEA’s range of premium-quality products are made from natural, organic non-toxic sources. Through its vision of ‘Transforming People’s Lives’, MELILEA believes that you can transform yourself and at the same time, transform others. This vision applies to every person involved in MELILEA’s supply chain – from the farmers growing the crops and the distributors selling the products, all the way to the end consumer.
“We came up with a powerful idea that would allow people from all walks of life to start a business of their own through our platform, while reaping the benefits of our support and training system,” Alan explains. “MELILEA is open to anyone, regardless of background, experience, age or educational qualifications.” Alan also notes that the company’s incentive system avoids selling the ‘get-rich-quick’ dream offered by many of its industry counterparts. Rather, it distributes profits fairly across different levels to ensure independent business partners are always motivated to do their best work.
Melilea International was among the winners at the European Awards for Best Practices 2018, recognised by the European Society for Quality Research.
The global organic food and beverage market is expected to reach US$320 billion by 2025, according to market intelligence company Grand View Research. Asia is showing some of the highest double-digit growth in this sector, with regional sales expected to reach
US$10 billion in the coming years. According to Ecovia Intelligence, two of the fastest growing markets for organic and sustainable products are China and India, largely bolstered by growing awareness of organic production methods and rising disposable incomes. Concerns over food safety and quality are also driving the organic trend, particularly due to the high incidence of food scares such as contaminated meat and ‘gutter oil’.
However, while it’s home to 8% of the world’s organic farmland, Asia’s organic food sales only account for 6% of the global total of US$91 billion. And despite being projected to grow by 12% year-on-year to 2025, organic sales today account for less than 1% of total food sales across Asia – even in the top three markets of China, South Korea and Japan.
Given its rapid growth throughout South-East Asia, MELILEA is constantly bringing forth new ideas to advance its brands and drive growth in the organic market. “Because we’re present in so many different international markets, we have to navigate cultures, languages and regulations. In a fast-changing, competitive world, we must also constantly upgrade our technology and business models across our branches and outlets,” Alan explains. “While each country is different, we’ve found that an increasingly organic lifestyle is an emerging trend in most countries, particularly in the US. When people think organic, they think expensive. However, we’ve created competitive health products and supplements at a good price, so everyone can afford to buy organic.”
“When people think organic, they think expensive. However, we’ve created competitive health products and supplements at a good price, so everyone can afford to buy organic.”
Alan believes that education is essential and the main hindrance to the organic industry in Asia is a lack of basic consumer understanding. “We invest a great deal of time and resources in public talks to share the benefits of an organic lifestyle. Unlike many wellness companies, we go a step further in educating people – not simply trying to sell our products,” he notes. “We show them how to source their food, and why it’s important to support organic farmers and to live in an environmentally friendly way.”
MELILEA is particularly wary of the worsening air pollution and the rise of epidemic diseases throughout Asia. Given these living conditions, Alan believes that strengthening the body’s immune system is more crucial than ever before. In a market full of untested products claiming to provide a defence against these issues, he warns consumers to only choose what is reliable and safe.
MELILEA Organic is the company’s exclusive range of organic products made from fresh and clean fruits, vegetables, grains and herbs. Produce is grown in a zero-pollution, fertile soil environment and the entire process of cultivation, harvesting, transportation, storage, processing and packaging is in line with the highest industry standards of zero-pollution farming and production.
[img alt="Alan Wong and Stella Chin" src="https://static.theceomagazine.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/17083714/CEO-edited_180828_0002_NEW.jpg"][/img]
MELILEA Co-founder and Executive President, Alan Wong’s wife Stella Chin is a powerful example of female entrepreneurship in business. With more than 25 years’ experience in international marketing, as well as business and operations management, she balances family with a successful career – even finding time for charitable works.
In her mission to empower women in business, Stella founded Stellavingze International with the aim of uniting and building on the skills of women playing active roles in family, business and wider society.
In 2015, Stella became the first Chinese woman to receive four awards at the 12th Annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business, winning Female Entrepreneur of the Year – Consumer Products; Female Entrepreneur of the Year in Asia, Australia or New Zealand; Female Executive of the Year – Consumer Products; and Mentor or Coach of the Year.
Growing up in the 1970s on a poor rubber estate in rural Malaysia, Alan’s upbringing was not without its challenges. He learned the importance of hard work and humility from his foster parents, who spent their days working as rubber tappers for a measly wage. Alan’s rags-to-riches story is a testament to the power of customer relationship marketing. “I was excited by how you could start a business without capital,” he told The Business Times of Singapore. Today, he gives back to the community through a variety of initiatives so that others might not have to live as he did. “I believe that by transforming lives one at a time, we will slowly transform the world,” he says.
On top of managing the ever-growing MELILEA enterprise, Alan is currently spearheading a social housing development project in Malacca, aimed at providing affordable housing for lower-income families upon completion by year 2020.
Alan is also working with various non-governmental organisations in providing underprivileged communities with goods and services, and is a strong supporter of women’s empowerment and development through his wife’s company, Stellavingze International.
Aimed at enriching the lives of women everywhere, Stellavingze helps women balance family with a successful career – all the while becoming stronger, smarter and wiser. This is done through self-improvement seminars, motivational talks, mentoring and career counselling, business networking events, and community fundraising campaigns. “We help women achieve a thriving household and encourage them to become more involved in the workforce, or even build a business of their own,” Alan explains.
“While the number of women in business in Asia is steadily growing, we’re also finding that a large number of women are leaving the workforce to become housewives after several years of marriage. Being a single-income household is very challenging in this region, given the high cost of living, so we prove to women that they can have a happy family and a successful career at the same time – it doesn’t have to be one or the other.”
This year, the Ministry of Education Malaysia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Malaysia and MELILEA launched the Prevention of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) Campaign at Schools. The program actively involves 500 schools across the country and aims to raise awareness among students, parents and teachers about prevention and the dangers of the disease, as well as the general health and hygiene of students.
MELILEA hopes that as the program runs over the next three years, it will contribute in the reduction of HFMD cases throughout the country. MELILEA believes that prevention is better than cure and is strongly advocating a culture of hand hygiene and cleanliness.
HFMD spreads through contact with nasal discharge, saliva and faeces, as well as fluids from the blisters of an infected person. When a person is infected, they are contagious until the blisters have dried up. Currently, there is no known treatment available, but infected people can seek relief for symptoms including fever, sore throat, mouth ulcers, rashes and lethargy.
So, as a start in its fight to eradicate the disease, MELILEA has sponsored 10,000 units of LeaMind Exclusive Hand Sanitizer to students who are in need, and two bottles per month to schools affected by HFMD. Actively encouraging students’ use before classes begin, this product by LeaMind is a series specifically designed to promote health and hygiene, formulated to thoroughly disinfect, while being enriched with botanical extracts such as aloe vera and vitamin E.
It’s also free of chemicals and preservatives such as triclosan, benzalkonium chloride, parabens, phthalates, chlorine and formaldehyde, which helps to put parents minds at ease. By August, it was confirmed that there were 49,318 HFMD cases reported since the beginning of this year. The number has increased from 21,950 cases, which were reported in 2012. The recent extensive spread of the virus has seen a total of 3,259 students from 1,202 schools be infected. As a result, 10 schools and a total of 265 classes were instructed to be closed under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease Act 1988 (Act 342).
Not only has HFMD disrupted the overall health of students and their families, it has also affected students’ learning at school. Only students who have not contracted HFMD are allowed to step foot into school premises, while all infected students are effectively quarantined.
As a company dedicated to raising public awareness on general health, hygiene and simple preventative measures, MELILEA hopes that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs such as this will help guide parents and children in preventing infectious illnesses beyond HFMD, such as dengue. And by pushing the message that overall cleanliness needs to be kept in check, students can come to understand how hand hygiene is an important first line of defence against the spread of many diseases.
“We prove to women that they can have a happy family and a successful career at the same time – it doesn’t have to be one or the other.”
Malaysia and HFMD
As at 30 June, the number of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases in Malaysia has increased by 28%, said the Ministry of Health Malaysia. There is no medication or vaccines that can prevent the infection of HFMD, and it is easily spread, particularly among children in premises such as daycare centres or kindergartens.
A caring culture
Alan believes that in order to build a successful business, you must first create a conducive environment. In collaboration with Alan’s business school, Global Netplus System, MELILEA conducts comprehensive training to build a new breed of entrepreneurs armed with advanced network business development skills.
“Our team is made up of people from different countries and cultures, so it’s important that they come together under MELILEA’s value system. In our onboarding centre, we not only teach sales and marketing skills, but also foster a culture where people are kind, respectful and supportive of one another. They become leaders, they learn from each other and achieve success as a team. We teach them how to help society and farmers by sourcing non-toxic foods and products,” Alan explains. “These lessons are also important for MELILEA’s business partners. What I look for in a business partner is that they are honest, sincere and hardworking. If they show these characteristics then I believe they have the potential to become a great leader.”
A better future
Alan believes that every company must always come with a mission and vision to grow, and must be compliant with the laws and regulations of the country. “Success is not a destination, but a journey. In every journey there will be failures, which we must learn from because they are all part of success too,” he explains. “While MELILEA was born here, most of our business opportunities are now based in the US so we will continue to expand our presence there. We have been concentrating a lot of time and effort on the Asia–Pacific region, and we hope soon to open branches in Shanghai, China, the US and Australia also.”
This plan for expansion isn’t unlike Alan’s own yearning to visit new places. “I don’t like to stay in one place – I always move around and I enjoy meeting and listening to people, no matter their age, race, profession, culture or religion,” he says. “I can speak English, Mandarin, Malay, Thai, Indonesian, and Cantonese, and I love sharing my vision. I think of MELILEA as more than a business. It is a social enterprise that helps people lead a successful, healthy and happy life. That, in turn, makes me happy.”