NUS Scholar Helps Wet Market Go Digital

NUS Scholar Helps Wet Market Go Digital, Market BoyNot all heroes wear capes. For those at the West Coast Wet Market, their hero was found in Mr Kenny Chen, an Engineering graduate from National University of Singapore who is affectionately known among stall owners as ‘Market Boy’.

Market Boy’s parents run a chicken stall at the wet market but due to circuit breaker measures, their business dipped drastically. That got the engineer-in-training thinking about how he could possibly solve this problem.

The NUS scholar revealed, “The education I received at NUS goes beyond technical know-how. My time in NUS has developed me holistically — I learnt to be a better team player, communicator and leader. More importantly, I learnt how to approach and overcome obstacles, and that is something which prepares you for life.”

With that mindset, he swiftly kickstarted the roadmap for his parents’ stall to go digital.

In April, Mr Chen set up the Market Boy Facebook Page. He singlehandedly took orders, packed the chickens and delivered them to customers stuck at home.

As Market Boy gained traction, Mr Chen started reaching out to other stall owners. Within two months, Market Boy had transformed into an online wet market with its own website ( and mobile app.

From a single chicken stall, the platform now covers the entire wet market, offering fresh meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits and more. Having started off as a oneman show, his team now includes an administrative staff and several drivers. As a way to pay it forward, Mr Chen mentors students who are interested in entrepreneurship through internship programmes, and mentoring organisations. In addition, Mr Chen started the “Kindness Project” initiative that donates over 100 kilograms of food to soup kitchens every month.

Mr Chen’s success was not just due to sheer willpower. The young entrepreneur credits the financial support from the two NUS scholarships he had received — the NUS Merit Scholarship covered Mr Chen’s tuition fees and provided him with an allowance, while the Jacob Phang Memorial Scholarship partially funded his exchange programme to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2018.

“I had the privilege to not have to worry about financing my studies and overseas exchange. That allowed me to focus on my own growth and development. The student exchange also broadened my perspectives, and made me a more empathetic person,” Mr Chen elaborated.

When running a business, empathy is as important as problem-solving. This soft skill helped him bond with the stall owners, which translated into a reliable network of quality suppliers. Having helped out at his parents’ stall for a decade, he said, “It’s a heartwarming experience to grow up in this market community where I always mingle with other hawkers and their kids. We are all family at the market.” That’s what heroes do — they protect and look out for the people around them.