David Chen left his native China as a teenager to attend school in Singapore. Little did he know that his adopted city would help him reach the ranks of the ultra-rich.

The co-founder of Sea Ltd. is now worth US$1.3 billion ($1.78 billion), joining fellow co-founders Forrest Li and Gang Ye among Singapore’s wealthiest individuals. Their company has thrived during the pandemic thanks to the popularity of battle royale mobile game Free Fire and e-commerce platform Shopee.

By far the city-state’s biggest company by market value, Sea didn’t happen by accident. It’s the result of the island’s approach to lure foreign talent at a young age to a market with easy access to capital. Chen and Ye both moved with scholarships for their studies, while Li, who was born and raised in China’s port city of Tianjin, followed his wife to Singapore after finishing an MBA at Stanford University.

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