At 26 years old, Murly Manokharan listened as his friends grumbled about how the world property market, including Malaysia’s, was vibrant and moving. “Yet, many middle-income young people couldn’t access quality properties, while juggling other aspects of life, like starting a family or getting married,” he recalls.

Sufficiently inspired, he ditched his job at Bursa-listed Ivory Properties Group — where he claims he was Malaysia’s youngest-ever executive director and chief operating officer at just 23 years old — to begin his own venture, Aspen (Group) Holdings, with the aim of providing affordable and quality housing to the young and middle-income community. “Well, I’ve always wanted to do something on my own. But I never thought that I would do it this fast,” says Aspen’s founder, president and group CEO in an interview with The Edge Singapore.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing at the beginning. Manokharan recalls how Aspen’s first year “failed miserably, because of the heavy capital tax and regulatory requirements”. But he learnt quickly and managed to turn the company around the following year.

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