PETALING JAYA: Despite being dealt a bad hand early in life, the Oei brothers plodded on and were rewarded with success.
They lost their father while in their early teens and their mother, Ooi Piek See, was forced to become the sole breadwinner, after spending most of her life as a homemaker.
Instead of crying “Why me?”, the three siblings pushed forward, inspired by their 56-year-old mother’s determination.
Today, John-Ian Oei, 31, John-Son Oei, 29, and John-Hans Oei, 27, are successful entrepreneurs. John-Son even made it to the inaugural Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list for Social Entrepreneurs on Feb 25.
His movement, called Epic Homes, builds houses for underprivileged Malaysian communities and has earned accolades, as well as a massive following among youths.
John-Hans and John-Ian are co-owners of Microbs, an environmentally-friendly waste management provider, catering mainly to the food and beverage industry.
Asked why they chose businesses that centred on improving lives and the environment, John-Son said: “We have been shown a lot of kindness. We wanted to find ways to return that kindness,” he said.
The brothers also attributed their success to their mother’s love and guidance.
“Mum was a housewife for 14 years when dad passed away. Almost overnight, she had to be the sole breadwinner, mother and father to the family.
“But she never complained about the circumstances that we were in. I think that is how we developed our attitude towards hard work,” said John-Hans.
John-Ian recalled how they would do odd-jobs after school to help pay the bills.
“As the eldest, I was doing anything that could bring in a bit of money,” he said.
The brothers are also among the alumni at Taylor’s University.
“I think mum put us all there mainly to take advantage of the discount you get when someone refers you,” John-Hans quipped.