Last week, Gaston Chee was interviewed by the MarinaTimes, the only weekly magazine in the Bay Area and the Entrepreneur, the popular US-based news outlet with a wide circulation carrying news stories about entrepreneurship, small business management and business.
Gaston Chee is the Managing Partner of LC Venture, a UK-based, venture-backed investment firm and the co-founder of BeGo Education, the education brand wholly owned by LC Venture.
The interview was hosted by Ms. Xiao Xiao Chen, the Director of International Affairs & UN Projects at MEBO International. A leading business group in burns and regenerative treatment and pharmaceuticals, it is the corporate partner and co-host of the APEC 2023 Organization Committee. MEBO is collaborating with Marina Times and The Entrepreneur to launch the “APEC 2023 Dialogue” aimed at promoting dialogue and cooperation between the United States, China, and the greater Asia-Pacific region.
In an engaging conversation that lasted almost an hour, the interview spanned issues related to the upcoming APEC 2023 which is scheduled for November in San Francisco this year. Gaston also shared his journey as a business owner and investor, and the work he is engaged in, holding various positions on the boards of regional and national business organisations and how his company and his investments are part of the APEC fabric that is changing the lives of the APEC members.
Gaston Chee is a founding member of the Regional Economic and Trade Partnership (RET), the working Committee in support of the China Association of International Trade (CAIT) for cross-border trading and logistics across RCEP member states. Additionally, he heads a directory at the Malaysian Chamber of Commerce in Beijing and previously held a similar position at the British Chamber of Commerce in China from 2017 to 2018.
During the interview, Gaston stated the importance of APEC 2023 at a time when the world is still dealing with the impact of the global pandemic, strained US-China relations, and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
This year’s APEC will be hosted under the theme of “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All”, outlining three priorities of interconnected, innovative, and inclusive. Gaston specifically emphasised the importance of inclusivity and how it remains a global challenge. He discussed how APEC could be a game changer in fostering understanding among different nations as it continues to champion free trade among members.
This year’s APEC Summit will emphasize resilience and sustainability, two pillars that will underpin the efforts of member states to ensure a robust economic recovery, aligning with the endeavors at LC Venture and its affiliated firms. Given that most of the families we serve are on the brink of transition, these businesses need to demonstrate resilience during these challenging times, ensuring continuity in the face of uncertainty and striving for sustainability.
“APEC represents nearly a third of the global population and approximately 60% of the world’s GDP, comprising 21-member states,” Gaston said, noting importance of the organisation. “I have been to 11 of the member states and they could not be more diverse. However, creating a common ground will be key to creating a truly resilient and sustainable global economy”
Gaston stated that APEC has been successful in supporting millions of businesses in the APEC region by addressing their pressing issues and introducing policies for ease of doing business, such as Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Protection, E-commerce and Digital Trade and business mobility by introducing the APEC travel card. Besides, APEC has championed the issue of women in business recently and has pushed for a fuller support of SMEs. “APEC has become an almost textbook guide on how multilateral organisations can bring true prosperity to the people of member states and beyond,” Gaston said.
However, he said that there is still much to be done to ease restrictions, especially on international travel, visa regulations, and post-graduation work opportunities for international students from APEC member states. He said that most people don’t realise the immense potential of study abroad to achieve a truly globally connected and inclusive economy, citing his own experience.
Gaston Chee spent his early formative years in the UK. He received his bachelores in Engineering Business Management from Warwick University and he also has a PGCT in Social Enterprise. With over a decade in education and eventually setting-up his business in the UK, he has extensive experience of business development and cross-border investment. Throughout his entreprenueral journey, he has won several entrepreneurship awards, including the esteemed Social Entrepreneurship Award, the UK’s biggest celebration of social enterprises recognising the best in the sector.
Gaston describes his international experience as eye-opening, making him multilingual and multicultural, and a bridge builder between the East and West. He mentioned how favorable policies, especially the opportunity to set up his first business in the UK, have influenced his business development and played a key role in developing his perspective as a global citizen. “In spite of the progress made in recent decades, to see the world now leaning towards protectionism and non-engagement is a step backwards,” he said and he believes there is much work to be done in this area, something that LC Venture through its education brand, BeGo Education are actively pushing for.
BeGo Education operates a boutique but holistic service called the Private Family Education Office (PFEP) for Chinese families. This service offers boutique education consultancy services to UHNW Chinese families. Gaston refers to the service a journey that includes not just the academic development of the student, but also providing support beyond the school.
“We help these families with their school or university application, settling in and post-graduate investment opportunities for their family businesses through the work we do at LC Venture,” Gaston said.
LC Venture and BeGo Education has assisted hundreds of families in this regard, which is sothing that Gaston speaks proudly about.
“We are very active in the study abroad services through our Education brand, BeGo Education, and see first-hand the struggles many of these students face,” he said, referring to postgraduate restrictions in the UK and the recent crackdown on student visas in the US as prime examples.
“Approximately 80% of the family businesses we assist have a global business strategy for their family business operations. Nevertheless, navigating the complex web of regulations presents numerous challenges, constraining their capacity to establish new ventures and fulfill their role as global representatives, not only for their own enterprises but also for their respective countries.” Gaston said and hopes that Summits like the upcoming APEC 2023 will table these issue on the agenda.
He said that BeGo Education has been vocal in raising awareness of the issue and lobbying policymakers to alleviate some of the challenges faced by international students.
“We have worked very closely with educational associations such as British Council, COBIS and BSA and the Department of International Trade (DIT) in the UK and the Mayor of London to push for policy reforms in this area.” Gaston said. These efforts sometimes pay off, as the UK government decided to reinstate the graduate route of Post Work Visa policy allowing students to stay in the UK after their studies.
However, Gaston believes there is much that needs to be done and referred to the key role that APEC plays in private businesses in achieving true globalisation. He praised the work that firms like MEBO International and Mr. Kevin Xu, the Chairman of MEBO International are doing to bring these issues to the fore front of global agenda.
Gaston concluded the interview by affirming that LC Venture and BeGo Education will continue to work with business and organisations like APEC towards creating a resilient and sustainable future, while remaining committed to interconnectivity, innovation and inclusivity. “The next APEC Summit will have the opportunity to encourage policy changes in the right direction,” Gaston said.
LC Venture continues to support the work of governmental and regional organisations such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), APEC’s SME forum, ASEAN, and MAYCHAM China.
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