Queen of Pawn

Like most kids, Yeah Lee Ching grew up playing with building blocks. Except that her blocks were made of gold.

Written by

Azure Capital Fund Management Singapore Private Debt Fund Singapore Hedge Funds Lyte Fund Terence Wong Blue Suit

Terence Wong, CFA

CEO and Executive Director
Azure Capital

Sep 7, 2021

Like most kids, Yeah Lee Ching grew up playing with building blocks. Except that her blocks were made of gold.

But it was not because she was born with a silver spoon. Back in the 1970s, her dad Yeah Hiang Nam – who quit school early due to poverty – had to borrow $10,000 to start a small factory producing gold. Some years later, Mr Yeah started his first pawnshop in the late 1980s, which was then an industry peppered with dingy, dark and uninviting halls. He was one of the pioneers who modernised the business and together with Lee Ching, have grown ValueMax to become the largest pawnshop chain in Singapore with 41 stores. Other than the usual gold and jewellery, Valuemax also takes in other high valued goods like Patek Philippe watches and Hermes bags.

In recent years, Lee Ching has been pushing its moneylending business. The size of its loan book grew to over $300m on the back of strong demand for property financing, with a number of Good Class Bungalows on its portfolio. Lee Ching’s life seems to have come full circle – from building beautiful houses with gold blocks, to making her pot of gold from beautiful houses