Site logo

Building a Better Malaysia: Power of Collaboration, Listening To Learn & Courageous Leadership For Greater Social Impact

Malaysia’s philanthropic landscape has shown remarkable progress amidst the pandemic challenges. The Doing Good Index 2022 by the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society sheds light on areas where Malaysia has potential for improvement[1]. Notably, Malaysia is one of the 12 economies in Asia that places significant importance on corporate involvement in the social sector through Corporate Social Responsibility programmes. 

Furthermore, Malaysia acknowledges the significance of the social sector by introducing tax-deductible donations, encouraging both the general public and corporations to contribute.

Source: Nestle

However, our nation-building journey is far from complete. We confront a myriad of pressing socioeconomic challenges post-pandemic such as poverty, inflation, climate change, and inequality. The need for change reverberates across all levels of society, demanding our attention. 

In the face of these pressing issues, the demand for change resonates across all layers of society. It is imperative that the government sets the tone for positive change, civil society plays an active role, businesses embrace their responsibilities, and individuals rise to the challenge to give back. 

In its second edition, The Hasanah Forum offers a unique platform for changemakers to engage in dialogue, listen, and gain new insights about how to make an impact and build a better Malaysia together. This premier impact conference, organised by Yayasan Hasanah, the foundation of Khazanah Nasional Berhad is set to take place on 20 – 22nd June, 2023. 

The Hasanah Forum (THF)

Yayasan Hasanah, an independent grant-making foundation, is a catalyst for impactful projects and collaborative endeavours. Since its establishment in 2015, over 2.4 million people have experienced positive transformations through the foundation’s support of over 600 on-ground programs. With more than 470 dedicated partners, Yayasan Hasanah has become a driving force behind meaningful change.

The foundation goes above and beyond by fostering collaboration among diverse stakeholders and promoting social and environmental reforms across Malaysia. One remarkable initiative is The Hasanah Forum (THF), a powerful platform that advocates for greater cooperation and synergy among different stakeholders striving towards shared goals. 

It’s time we break free from working in isolation and join forces in harnessing and leveraging collective wisdom within the social impact sector. Through shared efforts, we can transform good intentions into measurable, impactful outcomes.

With THF, our goal is to establish a platform that brings together diverse stakeholders to exchange knowledge and translate intentions into tangible results, as humanity progresses forward.
– Dato’ Shahira Ahmed Bazari, Trustee & Managing Director of Yayasan Hasanah

The inaugural Hasanah Forum in 2021 redefined “doing good”, embracing an alternative perspective that prioritises justice for the people. The forum advocated for a more equitable and fair society, challenging conventional approaches to social impact.

THF 2023 will build upon the previous discussions and delve deeper into the theme of “Fostering Justice-based Philanthropy: Shifting the Narrative to Action”. The conversations will revolve around three fundamental pillars: People and Institutions, People and Society, and People and Leadership. By focusing on these key levers, the conference aims to drive progress towards justice-oriented philanthropy, encouraging meaningful actions and fostering a paradigm shift in societal approaches.

The Power Of Collaboration

In the midst of the pandemic, we witness the harsh realities of closed shops, widespread layoffs, and children struggling to access digital education. Injustices permeate our surroundings, and the temporary aid provided feels like a mere band-aid on a deeply wounded system.

Addressing these deep-rooted issues calls for comprehensive and enduring social transformation. It requires a collective effort to achieve lasting change. However, a major hurdle lies in the lack of collaboration between the government, private sector, and social organisations when addressing community injustices.

Recognizing the urgent need for collaboration, Dr Ruth Shapiro, the co-founder and chief executive at the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS) echoes:

Addressing the region’s unmet social needs will require a coordinated “all-hands-on-deck” approach that includes not only funding but also talent, knowledge and a shared commitment towards the most vulnerable in our communities. – Dr Ruth Shapiro, co-founder and chief executive at the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS)[2]

Source: Tatler

In THF’s first panel discussion, ‘People & Institutions: Collaborating for Systemic Change’, Dr Ruth Shapiro will be joined by Datuk Johan Mahmood Merican from the Ministry of Finance Malaysia, Matthew Smith of Fortify Rights and Ng Boon Heong of Temasek Foundation. Moderated by Pritha Venkatachalam of The Bridgespan Group, this dynamic panel discussion will revolve around the pressing need to overhaul deeply entrenched systems. It will also explore the pivotal role Asian philanthropists can play in leveraging relevant stakeholders’ strengths for sustainable and lasting impact.

Listening To Learn 

Listening holds the key to successful social transformation. It is all too common for philanthropists and organisations to fall into the trap of assuming their proposed solutions are the most efficient paths forward when serving marginalised communities.

However, meaningful community engagement is a vital component that should not be overlooked. Ganesh Muren, CEO of Saora Industries, understands this truth firsthand. 

In 2014, when he established Saora+, a social enterprise dedicated to uplifting indigenous communities through green technology, Ganesh recognized the crucial importance of attentively understanding the community’s needs. He also built strong relationships with its members.

Usually, my team and I will spend some time getting to know the villagers and their needs. Rather than build one common system for every village, we want to design the system according to each village’s needs. – Ganesh Muren, CEO and founder of Saora Industries [3]

Through his genuine approach to social impact, Ganesh has made significant improvements in communities across 26 villages. His efforts have lit up 344 homes and provided 2.6 million litres of clean water. His inspiring journey is a testament to the power of listening and responding to community voices.

Prepare for an engaging and enlightening panel session titled ‘People & Society: Listening to Learn’ moderated by Rashvin Pal Singh of Biji-biji Initiative. On the panel with Ganesh are other inspiring impact leaders such as Anshu Gupta of Goonj and Aditi Malhotra of Yayasan Hasanah. They will be discussing the growing importance of incorporating community input into decision-making processes for social impact projects. They will explore the transformative potential of active listening and how it can shape more inclusive and impactful initiatives. 

Courageous Leadership

Amidst tumultuous times, the role of a captain becomes even more crucial in steering organisations and nations. The pandemic has further highlighted the need for authentic leadership. In the social sector, a leader plays a pivotal role in elevating the profession and being recognized as a catalyst for social change.

Source: The Star

An exemplary figure who embodies courageous leadership is Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood, Professor and Director of the Sunway Centre for Planetary Health. Driven by her passion, she founded MERCY Malaysia, an organisation that has made a significant impact on the global humanitarian landscape. Her exceptional leadership has been acknowledged with numerous local and international awards. In her words…

A leader is never a leader unless he or she has followers and grows leaders in the process. The only difference is the outcome. So if your outcome is about people’s lives, you lead your team to saving lives.Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood, Professor and Director, Sunway Centre for Planetary Health[4]

At THF 2023, we eagerly anticipate a thought-provoking panel session titled ‘People & Leadership: Nurturing Courageous Leaders’ which will bring together esteemed leaders in the impact space. Dato’ Shahira Ahmed Bazari from Yayasan Hasanah, Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar from Bursa Malaysia, and Dr J. Satrijo Tanudjojo from Tanoto Foundation will join forces, guided by the expertise of moderator Louise Pulford from Social Innovation Exchange (SIX).

During this session, the panel will delve into the critical topic of developing and fostering courageous leaders within the social sector. These esteemed leaders will generously share their insights, experiences, and strategies for nurturing leadership qualities that drive positive and impactful change.

Building a better Malaysia requires a collective effort. This invitation to join the conversation, collaborate and learn from others is extended to you and those who are in the business of making a difference. Join THF 2023 and be part of a transformative gathering, where together, we can build a better Malaysia. 

Explore the intersection of justice, philanthropy, and impact investing at The Hasanah Forum, or THF, the social impact conference organised by Yayasan Hasanah. Sign up for the free virtual conference at, held in conjunction with the Asia Venture Philanthropy Conference (, an international event happening in Malaysia co-hosted by Hasanah 20-22 June 2023.


  1. Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society. (2022). Doing Good Index 2022.Link
  2. M.Colombo. (2022). In Conversation With Ruth Shapiro, Founder and Chief Executive of Centre for Asia Philanthropy and Society. Prestige. Link
  3. B.Lim. (2019). Clean energy, improved lives. New Straits Times. Link 
  4. Perdana Foundation. (2017). A Conversation with International Humanitarian Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood. Medium.  Link

Stories You May Also Like:

BURSA TOP 20: Who’s The most charitable?