Raising awareness on social entrepreneurship
By Patricia Hului
Sehati made a return to Kuching with some 1,400 people coming together for a day of learning about social entrepreneurship last Saturday at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK).
The annual programme was organised by Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity (MaGIC), an agency under the federal Ministry of Finance.
Created to educate and create awareness on social entrepreneurship, Sehati invited three social entrepreneurs to share their experiences during the event.
Creating a difference at the grassroots level
Jacqueline Fong, co-founder of Tanoti Sdn Bhd emphasised the need to preserve the ancient techniques of songket weaving while gathering local weavers under one umbrella.
“This is not a story about me. This is about all the artisans; simple people, fantastic weavers and catalysts in the new creative world from Sarawak.”
Fong is also hoping to create a creative hub for designers, photographers, videographers, crafters in the future.
Abby Hosanna from Backyard Tourguide shared her team’s passion and drive to empower rural youths through their programme.
The IT graduate shared that one of the youths Backyard Tourguide aimed to help was Lawrence, a school dropout who is now working as a manual labourer and farmer.
“We are training them as tour guides in order for them to improve their livelihoods without leaving their hometowns.”
Abby said this was also an effort to preserve their culture in addition to reducing social problems such as alcoholism among the youths.
The second social entrepreneur from Heart Treasures, Kiew Boon Siew highlighted her main purpose was in helping her ‘angels’.
“These are my angels. No matter where I’m invited, I would bring along my angels and their parents.”
Kiew’s angels are autistic youths, those with developmental delay (slow learner), cerebral palsy, deaf and speech-impaired, disabled, are orphans and/or single mothers.
Heart Treasures also serves as training centre, training these angels to make handcrafted products as a form of therapy.
Their aim is to turn them into artisans with the hope they will become independent one day.
Her personal view is that social entrepreneurship is not entirely about earning profit, and that “It will come to one point in your life that money will not as matter as much as helping others.”
Visitors can participate too!
Participants of Sehati Kuching were also invited to share their thoughts on ‘I would like to give’, ‘I would like to take’ and ‘If I could change the world boards’.
Driving social entrepreneurs
Sehati in Kuching this year was held as part of Gathering of Rising Entrepreneurs, Act Together (GREAT) 2016.
Overall, this government initiative is to further develop social entrepreneurship as a sustainable, equitable and people centric sector to empower impact driven entrepreneurs.
Though it is a new concept here in Malaysia, countries such as the UK have included it in its national agenda for 10 years.
It has even contributed 5 per cent to that country’s national Gross Domestic Products.
The national partners for Sehati 2016 in Kuching are Malaysian Academy of SME & Entrepreneurship Development (Masmed), UiTM and IM4U, whilst iCube Innovation, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and Registrar of Societies Sarawak are state partners.