In a world that idolizes celebrities and capitalists, Wiki Impact 100 offers a fresh take on changemakers in Malaysia doing solid impact work and changing society and the environment for the better. This is a celebration of humanity and hope for our country. We aim to be holistic and inclusive in our selection, and we know there are thousands of changemakers that deserve the spotlight. If you know someone, nominate them today!
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Someone who steps up and out to solve a problem for the greater good of all. They use their ideas, talents, experience, networks, resources and platforms to affect positive change. They are constantly pushing the boundaries for better outcomes and innovating new ways to build a better future for all.
Check out some of these changemakers in action.
As Trustee and Managing Director of Hasanah, YBhg. Dato’ Shahira works together with a network of
civil society organisations to create positive long-term and sustainable impact within Malaysia’s social
and environmental landscapes. Hasanah invests in the following focus areas – Education, Community
Development, Environment, Arts & Public Spaces, and Knowledge & Research.
Under YBhg. Dato’s leadership and guidance, Hasanah has assisted more than 1 million lives in Malaysia
since its inception in 2015, alongside humanitarian relief initiatives. More prominently, in the two years
since the COVID-19 pandemic (2020/2021), Hasanah quadrupled their giving to RM400 million (USD 95
million) in 2021 through partnerships with the public and private sector, resulting in five times more civil
society partners and projects awarded in 2020 and 2021.
Nick Khaw is an economist and Head of Research at Khazanah Nasional. As Head of Research, Nick is responsible for knowledge generation, knowledge dissemination and knowledge management across Khazanah, in support of Khazanah’s mandate and the various Investments teams across all geographies, sectors and asset classes. Nick is also the Co-Head of Dana Impak, an allocation within Khazanah to undertake national strategic investments. Nick is also a trustee of the Khazanah Research Institute. Prior to Khazanah, Nick served as an economist in Malaysia’s Economic Planning Unit, where he was directly involved in several national development initiatives. Nick holds a Master in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID) from Harvard Kennedy School and completed his undergraduate studies in Economics at Harvard College. He is currently pursuing a part-time PhD in Political Economy Research at King’s College London. He writes a monthly column for The Edge Malaysia. All his writings can be found at www.nicholaskhaw.com.
Dato’ Kathleen Chew is the Group Legal Counsel of the YTL Group. and Programme Director of the YTL Foundation, a foundation working to provide equitable access to quality education and development of capable values driven leaders. She was Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on ASEAN 2016 and a Local Ambassador for the British Council’s Study UK Alumni Awards 2018. She sits on the boards of various Malaysian and UK charities, the Asia Philanthropy Circle in Singapore and Acumen Fund, Inc, New York. She is also Chairperson of Hospis Malaysia and Alpha Malaysia.
There are many more changemakers in Malaysia that deserves a shoutout. We need your help to identify them because their stories are worth discovering! Nominate someone (or two) today.
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Kuan Chee Heng, better known as Uncle Kentang among the local communities he serves, is a 58-year-old social activist. Growing up in the grimmest state of poverty from a family of rubber tappers, he now dedicates his time and effort to helping local communities break free of poverty.
He’s been doing so by giving them aids that were impossible for his family growing up. His famous name, Uncle Kentang, came about when Kuan would distribute potatoes to the poor, instead of rice because of its numerous health benefits. The beneficiaries, not knowing his name, would call him Uncle Kentang every time he arrived. This is a reflection of how Kuan seeks to help people, serving them with humility.
His first initiative was the ‘10 Sen Pasar (10 cents market), a pre-loved donation drive for the public to give away their pre-loved goods and the poor can buy any of the items at RM 0.10 each. This affordable market has benefited 10,000 families nationwide.
Uncle Kuan’s other notable efforts include a RM 0.10 taxi service so the needy can afford rides to the hospital and launching a RM 0.10 day-care centre where parents can drop off their children when attending medical appointments.
Uncle Kentang has also provided RM1 hostel accommodation for those travelling from different states to Kuala Lumpur for medical treatments and started an RM1 hearse service. In addition to this, he’s opened a RM 1 home for cancer patients, providing affordable care inspired by his experience of losing his father to cancer at a young age.
As a former police officer, he believes crime and poverty are highly linked. He launched Community Policing Malaysia (CPM), an NGO dedicated to helping vulnerable members of society and keeping the community safe by mobilising regular citizens to work hand-in-hand with the local police. Kuan’s countless good works haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2021, he received the Commonwealth Points of Light Award from Queen Elizabeth II. His kind deeds remain an inspiration and a beacon of light for those in the dark.
With a background in social sciences, Chin Poh Choo joined Good Shepherd Services, an NGO that provides services and support for children, women and the youth in need.
Since her involvement as a director of Good Shepherd Services in 2008, she has brought the organisation to new heights by implementing innovative solutions for problems in the community. Her role evolved to Executive Director of Good Shepherd Services in 2016. She helms the conceptualisation and development of projects at the organisation with the help of team members, funding partners and local communities.
Notable projects under her guidance include Everything Pineapple. In a project that took shape after the Sabah earthquake in 2015, 64 women were part of the journey that started as trauma recovery. Now, it has grown into a social enterprise with sister projects, Everything Tambunan centring ginger-based products and Women In Social Enterprise (WISE).
The ongoing WISE programme has generated a 20-80% increase in income for the ten women participants. At the same time, the Good Shepherd Education Fund was launched in 2021 and currently benefiting 210 children in Sabah and Ipoh, Perak.
For more info on Good Shepherd Services, click here.
Impact is about movement and change and the deep desire to make a difference, in our lives as well as those to whom we feel most connected. Impact is about engagement and communication that requires respect and trust-building. It’s a collaborative process in which one must participate with a listening heart as well as have the audacity to create and re-create, take risks and be challenged.
Datuk Munirah Abdul Hamid is a pioneer in social work and an inspiring leader in Malaysia who is renowned for her charity work as the founder of PERTIWI Soup Kitchen, providing humanitarian food aid services to the homeless and poor.
As a young girl, Datuk Munirah Abdul Hamid recalled cutting banana leaves to hold her mother’s rice pudding, which would then be distributed to the homeless at a local mosque.
Philanthropy runs in her family as two of her sisters were the founding members of PERTIWI Pertubuhan Tindakan Wanita Islam Malaysia (PERTIWI) or Muslim Women’s Action Society in 1967. Munirah stood witness to PERTIWI campaigns to promote girls’ education by engaging mothers in rural areas.
In 2005, Munirah came up with the idea of a soup kitchen to feed the hungry and homeless in Kuala Lumpur. In 2010, PERTIWI Soup Kitchen opened its doors and since then, without fail, four nights a week, the homeless in Chow Kit, Kota Raya and Masjid India are fed. The soup kitchen also offers medical services and other essential support to help the homeless survive.
Datuk Munirah has achieved much as a well-rounded leader in the sciences with her ventures into various businesses with her husband in advanced robotics, bioinformatics and machine translation. But her greatest impact remains tirelessly taking to the streets and transforming the lives of the urban poor in Kuala Lumpur.
In her golden age of 72, Datuk Munirah still has a lot to give back to the community as she hopes to work with different stakeholders to tackle issues of homelessness and urban poverty at its roots.
Raised in a humble middle-class family in Sungai Petani, Kedah, Devasharma Gangadaran witnessed the inequalities and lack of opportunities for youth communities in the small town.
Since his college days, Devasharma has been actively involved in leading clubs and societies and volunteering in schools for character development programs.
His commitment to uplift the youth in both urban and rural schools led him to join the Educational, Welfare and Research Foundation as a full-time volunteer in 2009 and evolved into heading MySkills Foundation since its inception. Devasharma led MySkills, a not-for-profit organisation and brought it to greater heights over the past 12 years. MySkills provides vocational training and acts as a learning centre for school dropouts and those who have fallen through the cracks.
From a campus in Puchong, Port Klang, MySkills foundation is now based on a 34-acre campus in Kalumpang, Hulu Selangor, to better serve over 500 students under its care. In 2020, the organisation reached over 15,000 youth.
The organisation has received recognition for its steady work in empowering the youths such as the “Entrepreneur For Good” award in 2015 by Arthur Guinness Projects and British Council for a social enterprise run by MySkills Foundation, De’ Divine Café. In 2018, MySkills Foundation was honoured with the Tan Kah Kee Award. Devarajan and MySkills Foundation is always on the lookout for partnering with various industries to fortify the vocational training for their students. In the past, the organisation has partnered with 3M, Baker Hughes, HSBC, Credit Suisse, Genting Malaysia, and JP Morgan Chase Foundation, among others.
As a person who benefited most from the community, I strongly believe that the impact that we (MySkills) make on the underserved youth community is a basic responsibility. In the pursuit of creating a better Malaysia, nonprofits like MySkills’ will eventually lead a significant impact to create good change in our ecosystem. We see this as a big hope for a better Malaysia for all.
Raised in a household that often cared for and gave back to others through selling vadai, Shyam Priah Marimuthu bought a house in Kampung Ampang Campuran in Kuala Lumpur. The house was given a new lick of yellow paint to endow it with positive energy, it became the activity hub for Yellow House in 2011.
Shyam founded Yellow House, a non-profit organisation that works to create more equitable and sustainable opportunities for marginalised communities. As part of Shyam’s outreach efforts since 2012, she has provided free haircuts, done laundry and prepared street people for job interviews.
Together with five volunteers, Shyam created ‘The Unseen Tours’ a social enterprise that trains formerly homeless people to lead walking tours in Kuala Lumpur. Since then, this initiative has been one of Shyam’s most successful, delivering social impact returns.
11 years on, Yellow House is a thriving social enterprise with an international community of 800 spanning over 46 countries. Shyam has served and partnered with clients such as Agensi Anti Dadah Kebangsaan, UNHCR, RexKL, Air Asia Foundation, Thinkcity, Citi Foundation, & Samhoud, Tourism Malaysia, Travel360, DBKL on developing new initiatives to help individuals exit homelessness to design strategies to assist refugees with sustainable alternative livelihoods.
She actively engages with university communities and nurtures a global circle of volunteers. Shyam has been listed as 10 Women NGO Leaders & Social Entrepreneurs To Watch in 2019 in Malaysia, 5 Brave Southeast Asian Women Making A Change For A Better Future and a spokesperson for 6 SPCAs under the Canine Advocacy Team.
For more info on Yellow House, click here.
Making an impact to me simply means creating opportunities and building resilience, taking on the role of a catalyst to bring about the chain reaction that will create a momentum towards infinite goodness to my communities.
Born and bred in Penang, Reverend Henry Sandanam moved to Kuala Lumpur in fulfilment of his calling to set up a community centre. Adhering to the calling to empower lives, he launched the Association of Social Services and Community Development of Gombak District, Selangor (PSPK) in 2006. PSPK has uplifted communities through several services such as community service, women development, sewing training, computer training, bakery training, setting up a senior citizen wellness centre, and establishing a young generation centre for youth.
Reverend Henry completed his studies in Bible and Christian Ministry, Christian Counselling and Social Work, and has also obtained his Degree in Theology. Through PSPK, he has impacted countless lives. For instance, women without any educational background now own their very own tailoring shops. Through programs and upskilling efforts, many are now able to provide financially for their families.
In 2017, PSPK received a Certificate of Recognition for the CSR Initiative by CIMB Foundation. Furthermore, PSPK has won the Regional Centre of Expertise Award honouring the Innovative Project on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) by the United Nations University for PSPK (2020) and also the Regional Centre of Expertise Award honouring the Local Sustainable Development on Community Transformation by the United Nations University for PSPK (2021).
Reverend Henry Sandanam was featured on Astro Channel & RTM Radio Minnal FM Channel numerous times to give talks regarding PSPK and how they are willing to go far and wide to help those who require it.
Impacting is all about being there for the people in need with a strong support structure. We are on the journey of empowering individuals with a renewed sense of purpose to reach their fullest potential. Dreams do not work unless you do. Therefore, our focus is not just to dream big but to work hard to draw everyone’s attention towards society restoration for a sustainable and resilient society regardless of race and creed to ensure no one is left behind.
Awaludin Jalalus Shuti grew up in Chow Kit, seeing how the youth in the area fall into social ills. Years later, he decided to change the lives of Chow Kit’s teenagers, giving them newfound hope and purpose through Chow Kit Youth (CKY). CKY aims to break negative stereotypes imposed on the youth community.
CKY provides youth with a safe space and emphasises talent development, environmental activities, community engagement and volunteering. While leading CKY, Awaludin volunteered his talents for Yayasan Chow Kit’s productions.
One of the musicals, ‘Theater Lorong: The Musical’, received the Silver Award Winner Polytechnic Student Excellence Award Malaysia 2013 and the ‘ Theater Lorong Pemimpi’ by Chow Kit Youth (HOPE Award Winners 2015 by MyHarapan).
Recently, Awaludin and his team managed to raise RM 10,000 for Yayasan Chow Kit’s new education centre in an effort to create larger safe havens’ for many more children in the vicinity. His passion has changed the once negative narrative that existed in Chow Kit.
Actions that improve one’s life (any living being’s life) even if it is only 1% ,it is much better than doing nothing.
Joycelyn Lee is the co-founder of Pit Stop Community Cafe (PSCC), an organisation with a mission to reach out to Kuala Lumpur’s homeless and underprivileged through food and other welfare services. PSCC was established in 2016 and feeds those on the streets on a weekly basis.
Previously, Joycelyn worked as a journalist for 14 years at notable publications such as New Straits Times, Business Times, Stints at The Sun Business Desk and The Edge Weekly. She was also part of the pioneer team for The Edge Online and Daily. Further to that, Joceyln spent another 10 years in corporate communications, specialising in issues management, crisis communications and corporate reputation management.
Despite the thrill of working in the fast-paced and robust corporate environment, Joycelyn was eager to give back to the local community through means of service. With ample experience and knowledge from her corporate experience, she launched Pit Stop Community Cafe.
Since the purposeful move, Joycelyn and her team have been working on issues related to homelessness, urban poverty and food security, with an emphasis on food rescue and repurposing. As of 2017, Pit Stop Community Cafe has served over 80,000 meal portions, while serving over 50,000 people. Currently, the organisation consistently serves four times a week and is working hard to provide care for people on the streets.
If I can help even one person understand that they are only limited by themselves and that we can all be agents of change if we so choose, I have already made an impact.
Sam Lee is the founder and executive director of Hopes Malaysia Welfare Association, a civil society organisation focusing on community development projects to meet the basic needs of the underprivileged rural community. With a Degree in Entrepreneurship from UMS, Sam’s passion for rural development moved him to uplift the underprivileged community in Sabah.
In 2016, Hopes Malaysia was established to serve underserved communities and to help them improve their livelihoods. This is done through Hopes’ sustainable community development projects to meet the basic needs of the underprivileged rural Sabah community.
Within a three-year span from 2016 until 2019, Hopes successfully completed 7 gravity systems, connecting 7 different rural villagers in Kota Belud, benefiting more than 8,000 villagers who now have clean water supply.
For more info on Hopes Malaysia, click here.
The struggles of rural Sabah communities have only worsened. No child, mother or farmer should be left behind. Seeing families finally live with the basic needs resulting from our projects reminds me of why I created and continue striving to make a sustainable impact with Hopes Malaysia.
After being a humble volunteer on the weekends for a year at Kechara Soup Kitchen (KSK), an organisation serving the underprivileged, Justin Cheah knew he’d fulfil his calling if he could go all in. The former banker from a prominent banking organisation saw little fulfilment in his previous career and sought to do something more with his life. After much deliberation, Justin took a leap and in 2008, he formally joined KSK as the Operations Director. Over the years has successfully contributed to the organisation’s growth. For him, it’s more than just distributing food – his job is about transforming lives.
To date, KSK is a platform for over 16,000 individuals to carry out charity. They have served 66,234 individuals and benefitted 422 community agencies across Malaysia. Justin envisions KSK to grow to the highest level in order to be able to benefit many more needy out there.
For more information on Kechara Soup Kitchen, click here.
Making an impact is something we refer to as what difference we made into what we were doing, in this case the level of change / contribution we made to the people in need.
Dr Hartini Zainuddin spent her youth teaching children in the boroughs of New York before settling down in her home country. Hartini’s return to Malaysia over three decades ago saw her embarking on a new journey of upholding children’s rights in Malaysia. Her involvement in Yayasan Nur Salam, now known as Yayasan Chow Kit, a 24-hour/7-day one-stop child crisis centre, Dr Hartini has been the go-to person when it comes to issues of marginalised children in Malaysia.
Her work has transversed borders. Hartini was South-East Asia’s focal person for the United Nations Relief Work Agency (UNRWA), involved in the plight of Palestinian refugees and worked for the Asia School of Business, as well as UNICEF, Malaysia.
A single mother of several adopted children, the plight of the children, especially stateless children, led her to helm the Voice of the Children, a local NGO performing advocacy work, law and policy reforms and training on children’s issues.
In Malaysia, her expansive work includes being a member of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development’s National Advisory Council on the Welfare and Protection of Children. Hartini is also part of various national task forces, including Child Protection Policy Training, Stateless Children and the Malaysian Adoption System.
Dr Hartini currently sits as a council member of the National Recovery Council, looking into food security and child protection issues within marginalised communities in Malaysia.
For more info on Yayasan Chow Kit, click here.
I work on child rights issues. For me, impact is about making a difference to each and every child I come across- to the best of my abilities. Because I can only do better if I had more time, more resources, and less urgent circumstances in so many of the cases. I could have always done better! Upholding a child’s rights and dignity is part of social protection. We define social protection as a set of policies and programs designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability by diminishing a child’s exposure to risks and enhancing his/her capacity to protect themselves and be the best version they can possibly be under trying circumstances.
Kuhan Pathy, an engineer by practice, gathered RM15,000 in 2015 to purchase a truck online and officially started the food truck business in 2015 peddling Indian cuisine around Klang Valley. The inspiration behind Masala Wheels is to help his friend who was involved in a gang fight to get back on track. The food truck has grown into a cafe in Old Petaling Jaya in 2017.
Masala Wheels, an accredited social enterprise, makes it a point to hire individuals from marginalised communities; youth-at-risk, urban poor and single mothers. The income received is utilised to provide free meals for in-need beneficiaries. Since its inception, 350 people have been empowered by Masala Wheels’ multi-platform and more than 250,000 meals have been served.
Kuhan had won multiple accolades for his exemplary work with Masala Wheels for uplifting the B40 communities by providing employment opportunities. His accolades include OTC (Houston) 2021 Top 10 Emerging Leaders, ASEAN Business Awards 2021, Gen.T Asia 2021, Prestige 40 Under 40 2019 and The Star Golden Hearts Awards 2018. In 2022, he was selected to join the Obama Foundation Leaders Asia-Pacific program.
In 2021, Masala Wheels tapped into a new venture, Pepper Cloud, a cloud kitchen initiative set to benefit home-based entrepreneurs. Kuhan has also co-founded the Malaysian Chamber of Social Entrepreneur Development, advocating for public and private institutions to adopt social entrepreneurship models to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Kuhan has also worked closely with the Malaysian government in forming an upgraded social entrepreneurship blueprint.
Every one of us has a purpose in life and in that purpose, we should deeply reflect upon our existence. The societal impact that we leave behind, would have the power to tell our stories and inspire the next generation of changemakers. With that, our actions would have reached life’s fulfilment in a divine way.
At a young age, Lakshwin Muruga had the privilege of seeing his mother build a nonprofit organisation. Through that experience, Lakshwin learnt the nitty gritty of starting an organisation from scratch and rallying others to support those in need.
The value of giving his time and effort to uplift marginalised women started during his foundation years. In his volunteer work, Lakshwin understood how much it transformed lives. One of his proudest moments was when he helped an entrepreneur raise her income by increasing her prices for a product she was losing money on.
Lakhswin moved on to pursue his undergraduate studies in Marketing with Psychology from the University of Portsmouth. Six months into his job at a multinational company, he started to reconsider work and life fulfilment. It was then that Women Of Will (WOW), an NGO focused on empowering women through entrepreneurship gained a new employee.
To Lakshwin, by helping women increase their income, they can better support their families and communities to create sustainable change. In the early years of joining WOW, Lakshwin was focused on managing projects in Sri Lanka, Nepal and rural women farmers in Sabah. WOW provides B40 women in Malaysia with business capital, training on entrepreneurship and coaching to support them in developing sustainable and profitable businesses.
To date, 2,000 women have been empowered from 23 communities. WOW works to develop women entrepreneurs into women communities and has successfully created 23 community leaders. The community leaders have been working on various community projects run by WOW, such as Community Kitchen, Community Sewing Centre, and Community Business Centre in PPR communities.
Looking into the future, Lakshwin hopes for more social support services for women to reach their full potential.
To find out more info on Women Of Will (WOW), click here.
Kon Onn Sein initially worked as a lawyer and built a successful legal career at 27. However, after having made a trip to an Orang Asli village in Tasik Chini in 1992, he had a moment to himself and re-evaluated his purpose.
In 2000, he decided to change the lives of the Orang Asli community, seeing that many were struggling to obtain basic needs. He established Yayasan Kajian dan Pembangunan Masyarakat (YKPM), an organisation that focuses on working alongside the poor and motivating and teaching them to partake in community building. Since 2015, Kon Onn Sein pioneered a shared prosperity community enterprise in natural farming, OA Organik in hopes of empowering the Orang Asli community through income increment and food security. From 8 farmers, OA Organik now has 55 trained farmers and won the Star Golden Hearts Award in 2017.
Restoring hope and dignity to those who have been left behind. And this is largely done through an empowerment approach by making businesses work for the poor and building fair societies through fair businesses. The end result is building harmonious relationships between one another, nature and the creator.
After completing her Bachelor’s in Politics from University College London, Zenna Law returned home with the mindset of fighting the ongoing modern-day slavery in Malaysia’s migrant worker recruitment.
She went forth to hone her skills by gaining experience in nonprofit advocacy, diplomacy, social innovation, social services and state research across Moscow, Geneva and London. Her experiences in different organisations culminated in the formation of Pinkcollar Employment Agency in 2017.
The core goal of Pinkcollar is to improve the recruitment and hiring practices of the heavily exploited domestic foreign workers in Malaysia. Domestic helpers hired under Pinkcollar were not charged any placement fees or salary deductions, removing the common practice of debt bondage in domestic helpers’ recruitment process.
Pinkcollar managed to place over 112 migrant domestic workers into jobs and accumulated over RM140,000 in recruitment debt savings since its establishment.
In 2022, Pinkcollar Employment Agency gained a USD200,000 award from the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery to provide their services to impact Indonesian migrant workers and Malaysia’s manufacturing sector. Zenna Law and her colleagues who founded Pink Collar are listed on Asia’s Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2022.
Making an impact in Malaysia’s migrant worker recruitment space means delivering a thoughtful and effective market solution that meets the hiring needs of employers while ensuring safe and dignified jobs for migrant workers.
It means making a long-term and positive difference in how migrant workers are typically recruited for jobs in Malaysia by demonstrating the effectiveness of a responsible recruitment model in increasing migration success and retention rates of migrant workers instead of using forced labour practices to keep workers in jobs.
Making an impact means enabling a better ecosystem for migrant workers in Malaysia that will also enable their capacity to follow through with their own hopes for their families and themselves in the future.
Yap Sue Yii founded a social enterprise with her business partner in 2018. Komuniti Tukang Jahit (KTJ), also known as Tailors Community of Malaysia is an accredited social enterprise recognized by the Malaysian government. She identified this community of women when she first started her fashion startup at 19 years old. While running her startup, she sought tailors around the neighbourhood to sew her garments. Soon after, word of mouth spread attracting more women who wanted to get orders from her. Little did she know, these were women who were situated at home because of family commitments, therefore they are unable to commit to a full-time job because of its fixed working hours. Earning any form of income becomes difficult for them.
It was then that Sue Yii found her purpose and life mission. As an entrepreneur, it became apparent to her that the community she hopes to empower has to be sustainable. She discovered how each and every one of them needed assistance; be it financial, educational or skill development. Therefore when creating her business model, she wanted to make sure it included upskilling, self-development programs and also ways for these women to be self-sustaining.
She quickly turned to what she knows best, designing. Instead of designing garments, she created a line of corporate gifts knowing that if more pieces were ordered, that would mean consistent orders and income for the beneficiaries. Slowly, her contribution and effort spoke for themselves when KTJ’s products were seen in magazines, aired on television and shared all over social media.
KTJ has achieved and continues to advocate for its 3 SDG goals, which are Goal 5: Gender Equality, Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth & Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. To date, KTJ has empowered a community of 196 vulnerable women (including B40, single mothers, refugee women, and disabled women) and given them substantial livelihood through sewing.
I’ve seen and witnessed the hopelessness of a mother when she knows she is unable to fend for herself or her children. Helplessly waiting upon funds or support – but not because she cannot work for it, but because circumstances placed her in a difficult position. Now, with the right opportunity presented to them, we see the commitment, and the greatest reward that we receive is, to see the positive change in their lives. For me, impact is to empower those who feel helpless, and give them the opportunity to uplift themselves from poverty and hardship. Through sewing upskilling and job opportunities, we empower the community of B40 women to earn their own income, directly impacting their lives and their children.
Orang Asli (OA) mothers who have young ones to look after are often confined at home and have limited opportunities to work. In many instances, the Orang Asli children are forced to give up their education to help ease financial burdens. This was when Lim Xin Yu co-founded The Asli Co in 2019.
The Asli Co trains and works with OA mothers to produce quality handmade products. Products such as handmade soap, tote bags and succulent pods are crafted by the OA mothers. Having met her fellow co-founder, Jason, in a previous volunteer experience, Xin Yu saw the need to provide an outlet where OA mothers and children could benefit from.
Xin Yu also has a background in design, UI/UX and multimedia. She was previously the VP of product development of Flexiroam, a data roaming tech startup. Since 2014, Xin Yu has been volunteering with Epic Homes and has built 15 houses for Orang Asli families in four villages in Hulu Selangor.
To date, The Asli Co has upskilled 63 OA mothers while paying them four times the minimum hourly wage. Additionally, The Asli Co has assisted eight OA villages in Selangor, Perak, Negeri Sembilan & Pahang, Malaysia and raised RM 1,140,041, channelled towards providing materials, equipment, training & wages to Orang Asli Communities.
There’s only so much I can donate as an individual. But as a business, the impact can be magnified 100-fold easily. I believe businesses can be a force for good, with the ability to create a tremendous impact on the social causes they choose to focus on. My wish is to see more social businesses starting up in the near future to create positive change in the world we live in.
Sasibai Kimis left a successful career in the finance industry to start the award-winning, Malaysian-conscious lifestyle brand and social enterprise, EARTH HEIR®. Earth Heir’s story began with a desire to create thoughtfully designed, contemporary heritage pieces handcrafted by master artisans in Malaysia. Earth Heir is Fair Trade certified by the World Fair Trade Organisation and works with disappearing heritage art forms handcrafted by women, refugees and indigenous persons.
Earth Heir won the British Council and Arthur Guinness Projects Social Enterprise Award in 2015 and Sasibai was one of Wharton’s “40 under 40” award winners in 2015 and an Eisenhower Fellow in the 2015 Women’s Leadership Program. She is also a Vital Voices Grow 2019 Fellow and an Asia21 Young Leader 2017 with the Asia Society. She was also awarded the Tatler Hero Award in 2020.
Prior to Earth Heir, Sasi was a Vice President in the Investments division at Khazanah Nasional (Malaysia), a Director in the Private Equity team at First Avenue Partners LLP (London), worked in Ghana with Opportunities Industrialization Centers International and the United Nations Development Program, and in New York as an Investment Banking Analyst at Lehman Brothers.
Sasibai received a B.S in Economics (Finance and Management) cum laude from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and an M.Phil in Environment and Development from Cambridge University. She has spoken widely at universities, conferences (such as TEDx) and forums in Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, Indonesia, the U.K., the United States, Switzerland, Japan and Australia.
We have a finite life on this earth, and making an impact to me means we use that finite life to make incremental contributions to the people, nature, economies and societies. A lot of our impact may not be seen in our lifetime, we can leave a foundation and legacy for others to grow.
Lim Yuet Kim is the co-founder of PichaEats, a social enterprise rebuilding the lives of refugees in Malaysia. As a volunteer teacher, Yuet Kim witnessed first-hand how poverty stood between refugee children and education. It was then that Yuet Kim and two other volunteers knew they wanted to change the realities of refugee families.
In 2016, the trio founded PichaEats to facilitate the ‘employment’ of refugees through food and cooking. There are a variety of delicious cuisines prepared, as the chefs originate from Syria, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq and Pakistan. Since the launch of PichaEats, they have served over 350,000 meals and given back RM2.5 million to their chefs, making sure that refugee children get a fair chance at education.
As a team, PichaEats won The Chivas Venture 2017/18 and was the winner of Allianz’s “Empowering Future Generation” in Munich, Germany, Booking Booster’s Top 10 sustainable venture with Booking.com and Top 10 Asia’s Social Enterprise.
As for Yuet Kim’s personal success, she was awarded THE EDGE Inspiring Young Leaders 2017 awards, listed as Forbes 30 under 30 Asia and Asia Tatler’s Generation T. In 2017, she also co-founded another social enterprise focusing on education for refugees called, The Other School.
For more info on PichaEats, click here.
In PichaEats’ and my perspective, it means giving the people we are working with, who are refugees a voice and their dignity. It means enabling and empowering them when no one believed in them. It means walking with people who are mostly forgotten day by day until they are assimilated into society and continue to build a better world for others.
An actuary by practice, Chan Zi Xiang left his corporate career to venture into community development work in rural Borneo.
The Langit Collective was born after Zi Xiang and his three colleagues of diverse backgrounds tasted delicious rice at Lawas Highlands while working with a non-profit called Impian Malaysia. During a gravity-fed water systems project in Long Semadoh, the foursome bonded with the villagers in the area and learned the harvested rice was going to waste due to the inability to sell it as the village was too remote and difficult to get to.
With years of engaging with rural indigenous communities, the foursome recognised that economic empowerment is more sustainable compared to charity models in the long run to improve communities’ livelihoods.
At the end of 2015, Langit Collective was established, selling the heirloom grains and the result was exponential with 30kg being sold in just two days.
To date, Langit Collective has touched the lives of 69 farmers from 9 different villages with a RM320,000 direct payout to the farmers. The social enterprise that bridges rural-urban economic gaps is the winner of The Star Golden Hearts and DBSF x SIF Social Impact Prize in 2019.
Riding on the success of Langit Collective, Langit Experience was established, providing experiential tours and an opportunity to shadow traditional rice farmers in Long Semadoh.
With the success of Langit Collective, Zi Xiang’s belief that the way forward for rural indigenous communities is through revaluing their unique heirloom agricultural products and conserving their indigenous wisdom has only been fortified.
Impact to me is beyond any numerical metrics. When someone is afforded a “choice”, that’s an impact.
Sulie Abell is the founder of Sluvi, a Sarawak-based social enterprise with a line of natural beauty products locally sourced, made and produced by rural Sarawakians. Sluvi aims to empower farmers whilst simultaneously bringing local remedies into the forefront of skincare.
Sulie was inspired to create a line of natural products after she suffered from chronic eczema and failed to find a suitable chemical-free solution. Going back to her roots in the village of Melugu, Simanggan in Sarawak, Sulie sought the help of farmers to grow and harvest various ingredients such as rice, lemon grass and aloe vera.
In 2018, she launched Sluvi, a range of skincare products that are natural, locally sourced and safe for the environment and for people, especially those with sensitive skin.
Her early exposure to social enterprise came from her university days as an International Relations student, during which she learned of the microcredit concept introduced by Muhammad Yunus to empower small businesses in Bangladesh.
To date, Sluvi has increased the income of B40 farmers in Melugu village by 300% while producing eco-friendly skincare products. In 2018, Sluvi won the Sarawak Shell LiveWIRE programme. Sulie herself is a recipient of Prestige 40 Under 40 (2021), Prestige’s Annual List of Malaysia’s Most Successful Innovative and Influential Young People.
To me, making an impact means when we do something that gives positive changes to society, the environment and animals. In this world, there is always a problem to be solved. Anyone should be attentive to any world problem and do something about it, doesn’t matter whether it’s small or big. Action matters, to make that ‘Act of Good’ domino effect. Kindness wins!
After having practised investment banking for over 18 years in different locations – Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and East Malaysia, Jacqueline Fong retired from her career to focus on social entrepreneurship in her home state of Sarawak.
Better known as Jackie, she founded Tanoti Crafts – an award-winning social enterprise that serves to preserve the heritage and empower artisans in rural communities in 2012. What started as a handful of weavers, Tanoti Crafts now engages with 500 artisans residing in 25 rural and remote communities across Sarawak, working to progress the craft industry through capacity building, design and advocacy. The social enterprise was established to preserve heritage techniques, empower women and build rural communities.
Having gone far in establishing her heritage, the Sarawak State government has acknowledged Tanoti Crafts as an Emerging Craft Community. Aside from recognition, Tanoti Crafts has also received local and international awards, such as the World Crafts Council Award of Excellence in Craft in 2014 and 2016, the British Council- Arthur Guinness Entrepreneur for Good People’s Choice Award 2014, the MaGIC Amplify Award 2015, and the ASEAN Silk Textile Contest 2019.
For more info about Tanoti Crafts, click here.
Making an impact means making right where an injustice has been suffered.
In the midst of completing a project as a student, Daniel Teoh discovered and became deeply inspired by the Orang Asli (OA) community, back in 2018. As a passionate advocate for integrating business with social good, he left his training as a civil engineer and devoted his early career to building partnerships with local communities.
Daniel is the founder of Native Discovery, a social enterprise which supports indigenous communities in Malaysia by building their economic capacity and sharing their stories through sustainable tourism.
Through his work, he has worked with multiple local indigenous communities in hosting hundreds of guests from all over the world to experience Malaysia in a new way: as both celebrated guests and thoughtful contributors. Deeply curious and fervent that the biggest beneficiary of his work is himself, Daniel is determined to live life as one big adventure and bring as many people along with him.
For more info on Native Discovery, click here.
Impact manifests itself in many forms and that’s what’s so beautiful about it – because it means we all can make an impact in our own way! Making an impact to me means doing things that improve the lives of all the beings that we share the world with. As long as you’re serving this universal interest, you can be sure you’re living well.
Nurul Azwa isn’t one to shy away from leadership positions from a young age. As a law student in Adelaide, Australia, Azwa led over 20,000 Malaysian students in Australia as the National Chairperson of the Malaysia Students’ Council of Australia (MASCA). Her commitment to the council was rewarded as she was awarded the Best International Student In Community Engagement by the Governor of South Australia.
Under the Perdana Fellow program in 2018, she worked with YB Khairy Jamaluddin during his stint at the Ministry of Youth and Sports. An adamant believer in youth empowerment and nation-building, Nurul Azwa co-founded the Malaysian Students’ Globe Alliance, a global organisation reaching and connecting Malaysian student councils worldwide.
Only 28 years old, Azwa is currently helming two royal-backed organisations; Selangor Youth Community (SAY) and Yayasan Raja Muda Selangor (YRMS). Azwa is the youngest leader in the history of the organisation Azwa powers through community development, entrepreneurship and TVET development for youths in Selangor, from its grass-roots execution to policy development at the state level.
Under her leadership, SAY has engaged and impacted over 300,000 youths in Selangor and beyond. One of her notable achievements includes the SAY Lead entrepreneurship programme targeting youth with disabilities. The programme has transformed the lives of over 120 entrepreneurs in Selangor and its neighbouring states; Negeri Sembilan, Kuala Lumpur, and Putrajaya.
More initiatives SAY is currently running under her guidance, including the Team Programme, an initiative with Prince’s Trust International to provide opportunities for at-risk youth to transform their lives with access to employment and personal development.
By empowering the youth, we empower a generation to make a change. Youth is the future. They have the power to break the cycles that have caused problems in the past and create a better world than it is today.
Anne Lasimbang is the Founder and Executive Director of PACOS Trust, which is a community-based organisation dedicated to supporting indigenous communities in Sabah. Since 1993, she has managed to set up 23 learning centres in the rural communities in Sabah, improving the chance for rural children to get an education. There are approximately 28 community learning centres throughout Sabah and Sarawak since the organisation initiated the project in 1993 with the mindset of introducing kindergartens to villages that didn’t have their own pre-schools.
PACOS Trust also focuses on capacity building among community members and providing opportunities for socio-economic growth via seed money for micro-enterprises. Additionally, they also educate and encourage villagers to manage their natural resources (eg. land, water, crops) well as these are crucial aspects for survival and income. With practical training and relevant programmes set in place, it allows the communities to generate their own income, which includes selling their traditional plants, fruits and vegetables, and so on.
To date, PACOS Trust has helped 3500 families, 3000 women, 3000 youth, 2000 students in primary and 47000 preschool and kindergarten since 1993.
For more info on PACOS Trust, click here.
All of us has the potential to create lasting and meaningful impacts on our society and environment. These impacts no matter how small, contribute to make this world a better place to live in.
Tham Hui Ying has always possessed a strong sense of justice, and that passion propelled her to pursue law at the University of Reading. However, in her fifth year of legal practice, the former president of the Association of Women Lawyers decided to be more involved in human rights advocacy.
The decision brought her to enrol in a Human Rights Master’s degree under the Chevening scholarship. With more than seven years of legal and human rights advocacy experience in Malaysia with an emphasis on women’s and children’s rights, Hui Ying joined Asylum Access in Malaysia in 2018, and now is the Director of Asylum Access Malaysia. As the Director, she oversees all programs, and operations and takes on the role of primary policy advocate at Asylum Access Malaysia, an organisation that provides legal aid to refugees and asylum seekers.
On top of providing legal assistance to refugee and asylum seekers, Asylum Access trains members of the community to become an advocate or a mouthpiece for their community through community empowerment programmes. The direct legal aid and the community empowerment programs provided by Asylum Access have benefitted 3,100 clients per year in Malaysia.
Hui Ying was listed as Prestige 40 Under 40 in 2021 and is currently Deputy Chair of Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) South East Asia Working Group. Hui Ying is also a board member of the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), an organisation focusing on women’s sexual and reproductive health and also an Executive Committee of Family Frontiers, an NGO advocating for equal nationality laws in Malaysia.
To find out more on Asylum Access Malaysia, click here.
Deborah Henry graces the headlines and newspaper articles for her role as Miss Malaysia World (2007), Miss Universe Malaysia (2011), a successful International model and as a host and moderator for international conferences.
However, today, her dedication and passion are for humanitarian work, such as championing the rights of refugee children in Malaysia. Her involvement in providing education to the refugees started in 2008 when Deborah and her university classmate, Shikeen Halibullah taught Somalian children English and Mathematics in Kuala Lumpur.
Words spread in the community and gained traction amongst the refugee families leading to the formation of Fugee School in 2009. Over a decade later, more than 500 refugee children’s lives were transformed through the non-profit organisation.
Being positioned as a public figure constantly in the local and international spotlight, Deborah uses her influence and voice to support her humanitarian work. In the last five years, she became a full-fledged socialpreneur through the creation of Fugeelah, a social enterprise offering conscious jewellery brands. The profits from Fugeelah are channelled to educate refugee children and currently provide four refugee girls with full-time jobs.
Deborah was listed in Forbes’ Asian Philanthropists and received the Golden Heart Award Tribute to Women in Malaysia in 2016. In 2018, Deborah was nominated by the US Embassy in Malaysia to represent the country at the International Visitor Leadership Programme (IVLP) organised by the US State Department. She has also been listed on Gen T.Malaysia in 2020 and as Asia’s Most Influential in 2021.
For more info on Fugee, click here.
Making an impact is providing equal access to education and livelihoods to all individuals. It is recognizing the potential in a child and equipping them with all the tools they need to succeed. It is also about looking at how to transform communities and mindsets to inculcate change across generations.
Sharifah Shakirah Husain was forced to flee the war-torn Rakhine State of Burma/Myanmar at the age of 5. Sharifah spent 21 years as a refugee in Malaysia.
Sharifah observed the lack of solidarity between the Rohingya refugee group and an avenue for women in the Rohingya community to share, express and heal from their traumas together.
In 2016 while living in Malaysia as a refugee she founded the first Rohingya and women refugee organisation called Rohingya Women Development Network (RWDN). RWDN was founded to help human trafficking victims regain their voices and independence so that they can lead normal lives.
Rohingya Women Development Network is an organisation focused on two important areas; action and advocacy. The grassroots work provides education programs for the community including literacy classes, reproductive awareness classes, and skills-building programs to provide livelihoods. On the advocacy part, RWDN educates refugee women on their human and basic rights such as education, protection and healthcare so they are aware of what they are eligible to.
In 2019, Sharifah Shakirah was nominated as Malaysia’s candidate for the US Department of State’s International Women of Courage award. The award is presented by the US Department of State to acknowledge women around the world who have shown courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment.
For more info on Rohingya Women Development, click here.
To provide a voice to the voiceless people, to build leadership in the community so that the people don’t live broken forever. To be able to unlock our wings that had been locked because of our hardship and fly high as others. To be able to stand up for ourselves and fight for another person at the same time so that when it’s time the other person can lead himself independently and lead others to lead others.
For Lai Chong Haur, what ignited his desire and passion to help the differently-abled was when he witnessed how difficult it was for someone with a disability to find a job, grow in their career and live a financially independent life.
Seven Tea one, which is also known as Kitchen For Good, first started in 2016 before Lai Chong Haur officially took over the social enterprise in 2018. Before that, he was working as a Human Resource practitioner for over 20 years and always had a passion and an eye for community work. Due to that, working for Seven Tea One wasn’t a world he wasn’t unfamiliar with.
The social enterprise is known for its cookies, handmade soaps, and fair-trade tea, which are all products made by differently-abled individuals. Seven Tea One provides a safe platform for differently-abled and marginalised communities to learn new skills and make products that actually sell.
Impact for me creating a purposeful and sustainable change to a social or environmental cause. It is beyond a charitable act of merely helping but also transforming.
The idea behind Havan Clothing was sparked after Hany Cheng and her partner, Ivan Eng, volunteered at a shelter home in Sentul during Christmas. At the time, Hany was pursuing her PhD. in counselling and expressed concern about the touch-and-go nature of charity as well as the children’s lack of emotional intelligence.
Bottling their intention, both Hany and Ivan came up with the idea of starting a social enterprise selling apparel designed by children at shelter homes, naming it Havan Clothing, a combination of their names. Through selling apparel, 10% of proceeds are channelled to sustaining their emotional intelligence learning programmes, buying stationeries for the children and funding field trips for shelter home children.
Hany, a counsellor by profession, is the Head Social Innovator at Havan Clothing and is in charge of Havan’s social outreach, lesson development, impact measurements, and teacher training.
To date, Havan Clothing has reached out to over 70 children in 4 different shelter homes. The social enterprise aims to impact 1,000 shelter home children by 2025.
At 18, Heidy Quah Gaik Li volunteered to work as an English teacher at Chin Children’s Education Centre (CCEC). However, after spending four months teaching there, the school was about to shut down due to a lack of funds.
Refuge for the Refugees (RFTR) first started as a funding project for the sake of the school so it wouldn’t have to shut down and was able to gather RM12,500 in three months. However, as time passed, it transformed into a non-governmental organisation and continued helping the refugee community in various ways.
The organisation was able to support 35 refugee schools, two halfway homes and a social business school across Malaysia and Myanmar, where thousands of children benefited from it. RFTR also fights and advocates for the rights of the refugees in Malaysia, providing entrepreneurship programmes to help them sustain themselves.
Heidy accumulated both local and international recognition for her work in helping the refugees. In 2017, recognised for her immense efforts, she was the first Malaysian woman to receive the Queen’s Young Leaders Award from Queen Elizabeth II. Heidy is listed on Gen.T Asia in 2018, and Asia’s Most Influential in 2021.
In addition to managing RFTR, Heidy is also an associate professor at Taylor’s University and associate supervisor at Australian Catholic University.
For more info on Refuge for the Refugees (RFTR), click here.
Note: Heidy’s images are via IG: @heidyquah
In 2006, Agnes Peter co-founded RC Deaf Missions Malaysia alongside her brother, Mario Peter. Although not part of the deaf community, her passion to help those with hearing disabilities led to the launch of RC. With a heart and a longing to serve the deaf community, she established RC Deaf Missions Malaysia as a gateway for Malaysia’s deaf community. By doing so, the deaf is able to make a living without restrictions. Agnes is also a big advocate of the deaf community, and for persons with disabilities.
She has 30 years of service as a Malaysian Sign Language (BIM) interpreter and holds a Diploma in a BIM Interpreting programme. She continues to raise awareness about the deaf community and has also launched Malaysian Sign Language (BIM) classes for anyone interested. To Agnes, learning sign language is not only for the deaf.
In 2018, she proceeded to launch RCDM Cafe, where deaf staff are welcomed to make a living. They provide their deaf staff with quantities of career opportunities, such as business co-op management, skill and leadership development, deaf mentoring and role modelling.
For more info on RC Deaf Missions Malaysia, click here.
Making an impact means being an agent that influences change for the better in society. For me, making an impact has taken several years in the area of Deaf Advocacy and Deaf empowerment. It’s not the immediate result of an action I look for. It’s what comes after. Making an impact takes time – like a crucible process. Since impact is life-changing, you have to be consistent in what you do if it’s something you clearly hold dear to, giving space and a voice to the minority community, and inviting hearing people at large to be part of this cause. If you want to make an impact for the betterment and service of others, then – I quote Gandhi’s words – be the change you wish to see in this world.
Mary Anne K. Baltazar grew up in Sabah surrounded by xenophobic sentiments against the undocumented and stateless community. Knowing she could do more to spur acceptance of the community, her first step in non-profit and human rights works started with Good Shepherd Services. The organisation works on issues of sexual gender-based violence, and human trafficking among others.
Her passion led to establish Advocates for Non-discrimination and Access to Knowledge (ANAK) in 2017, advocating for the rights of non-citizens children in Sabah.
Anne is also committed to conducting research and communicating her findings to support policy reforms. In 2014, She presented her paper on human trafficking for the Symposium of Young People against Slavery at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Vatican City. In 2017, she was awarded a research grant by SHAPE-SEA. The grant culminated in a research paper entitled Children at Risk of Statelessness and their Constraints to Citizenship.
She is currently a Fellow at the UMS-UNICEF Communications for Development Research Unit. Her fields of research include statelessness, legal identification documentation and migration, particularly among women and children.
Anne is a member of the Southeast Asian Human Rights and Peace Studies Network (SEAHRN), an alumnus of the Community Solutions Programme (CSP), Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative (YSEALI) and the Institute of Statelessness and Inclusion (ISI). She also heads the Social Development Unit in the Sabah WWF office.
For more info on ANAK, click here.
Making an impact to me is being able to change the lives of the most vulnerable in our society for the better, and to be able to influence others to also play a part in that change. so that everyone regardless of background would be able to live a life of dignity.
Iskul Sama DiLaut Omadal was initiated in 2015 and recognised as a community-based school. Iskul was primarily set up for the stateless Bajau Laut children in Pulau Omadal, Sabah, with the aim of providing basic literacy. For instance, teaching them Bahasa Melayu and basic arithmetic.
Chuah Ee Chia, Iskul’s co-founder, learned about the Bajau Laut community while on a diving trip in 2013. The following year, Ee Chia pursued a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) at Central European University to widen her knowledge in policy-making. Intrigued and keen on helping Bajau Laut’s community, she began to study their marginalised status within the state and local economy in Semporna through her Master’s thesis.
In 2015, she co-founded Iskul, addressing the community’s needs using participatory and inclusive approaches. Ee Chia’s previous experiences and involvement with Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia and its Social Inclusion Agenda (SIA), Occupy Dataran, Malaysiakini and the ecumenical movement, were what shaped and inspired her.
Today, Iskul has successfully provided education to children without proper access. The school has recorded major improvements in Bahasa Malaysia and Mathematics. From a previous failing average of 33% in April 2021, students were achieving an average of 67% in September 2021. Currently, Iskul has expanded its efforts by initiating community healthcare and environment programmes. Aside from this, a leadership programme for children and youth is also being set up in Pulau Omada. Ee Chia’s continuous efforts are to change the fate of stateless children by providing equal opportunities in support of their growth.
For more info on Iskul Sama DiLaut Omadal, click here.
Impact for me means being a bridge that connects our networks and resources to those without.
A lawyer by practice, Prof. Dato’ Noor Aziah Binti Mohd Awal recently retired from her role as Professor of Law at the National University of Malaysia or Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia after 36 years of service.
With over 23 years of experience in human rights laws, especially those related to women and children, Prof. Dato’ Noor Aziah was appointed as the first Children’s Commissioner of Malaysia at SUHAKAM in 2019. She was reappointed for another five years in 2022.
In her capacity as a commissioner, Prof. Dato’ Noor Aziah has been vocal in fighting for the rights of marginalised children, such as providing temporary documentation for stateless children, child marriages, and children’s rights in the face of crime and child abuse cases in care homes.
Before she was appointed the commissioner, Prof. Dato’ Noor Aziah was part of the Malaysian Representative to Asean Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Right of Women and Children (ACWC) for three years 2016-2019 and a member of the National Advisory and Consultative Council for Children 2017-2019. Notably, she was the first female to be appointed as a member of the Islamic Religious Council of Negeri Sembilan (MAINS) in 2016.
In addition, Prof. Dato’ Noor Aziah is a member of the Complaint Committee of Suruhanjaya Pencegah Rasuah Malaysia (2021-2024). In her years of academia, she has written three books (i) Wanita dan Kepimpinan (ii) Wanita dan Undang-undang (iii) Pengenalan Kepada Sistem Perundangan di Malaysia (ILBS) and co-author : (i) Undang-undang Keluarga Sivi (DBP) (ii) Dilentur Patah (UKM) (iii) Hak Penjagaan Anak: HADANAH. Prof. Dato’ Noor Aziah has also graced television talk shows along with publishing numerous articles and chapters in books relating to family law, comparative family law, women and law and child law.
If I do something, I give my very best so that what I did, will have an impact on others. An impact means to give someone a chance to change their life or to lead a better life. Everyone deserves to be happy. Never give up.
Cindy Leong grew up having a deaf sister. In her household, the Deaf community are welcomed with a warm embrace, slowly planting the seeds in her to help the community from a young age.
Her more than 36 years of commitment to the Deaf community started with her involvement as a volunteer sign language instructor for the deaf with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Deaf Club in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur in the 1970s and later as a teaching staff at Selangor School for the Deaf (SSD). After being sent to train in Manila, Philippines, Cindy was appointed as the principal of SSD.
Despite most of her time being drawn towards attending school matters, she remained active in volunteering for causes close to her. Cindy was also the pioneering group that expanded sign language in Malaysia and had a short stint as a sign language interpreter for the Berita Ringkas on Selamat Pagi Malaysia over RTM on Fridays and Sundays in the 1980s.
However, Cindy’s heart is set on educating the Deaf community. In 1990, she founded The Society of Interpreters for the Deaf (SID). Soon it grew into a Community Service Centre for the Deaf in 1995, providing education and training for the community and it blossomed into a project where graduates run Silent Teddies bakery for a living. Over 100 bakers have been trained under its roof since its exception.
As an extension of the great work done by SID, Silent Teddies bakery was accredited as a social enterprise providing skill training and work in the F&B sector in 2017. The bakery won the MaGIC Amplify Awards in 2016.
Cindy was also nominated and selected by Royal Safety Marshal Club (RSMC) as a recipient of the Iron Lady Award 2019.
Impact for me means being a vehicle for changing the lives of Deaf persons, by providing them with skill training as well as providing them meaningful work in the food and beverage industry.
Datin Elya Lim Abdullah, a holder of a Bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Monash University Australia, dedicated more time to working with non-governmental organisations in 2008.
OrphanCare (OC) was initiated following the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, Datin Elya and her later husband Dato Adnan became orphan activists after witnessing many children left orphaned in Aceh, Indonesia.
However, seeing the response to the appeal for adoptive parents, Datin Elya and her late husband mobilised friends to serve the Malaysian orphans. Her late husband had previously founded Viva Palestina Malaysia (VPM), an NGO that advocates for a just,
equitable, prompt and sustainable resolution of the conflict in Palestine. In 2008, OrphanCare was founded with the mission to provide separated children and abandoned babies the opportunity to reunite with their biological families or extended families.
Since its establishment, Orphan Care has introduced the first baby hatch in Malaysia. To date, there are 12 baby hatches under the care of OC and its collaboration with KPJ Hospital Group.
From 2012 onwards, OC has been in partnership with Lumos, a UK-based NGO driving Deinstitutionalisation (DI) programme in Malaysia. OC is also committed to reintegrating families and reuniting children with their biological families.
As a trustee of OC and the Head of Deinstitutionalisation /Government Relations, Datin Elya spent most of her time promoting deinstitutionalisation in Malaysia. In 2016, OrphanCare reached a milestone with the amendment of the child’s law to support family-based care (FBC). With the law amended, the construction of new orphanages and RKKs (Rumah Kanak Kanak) are disallowed to emphasise more on family-based care (FBC).
For us, to make an impact of change is to give every institutionalised child and abandoned baby a new chance to have a home and family. That is our ultimate goal.
Dr Allen Teh Keat Beng’s passion for helping the Deaf stemmed from his time managing the first Deaf-operated KFC outlet in 1985 at Jalan Imbi. In 2011, using his life savings of RM500,000, Dr Allen founded a social enterprise restaurant cafe project called DIB (Deaf-in-Business) in Damansara Perdana. The purpose of DIB is to provide job training and employment to Deaf Malaysians.
The pioneering group of DIB includes the 5 KFC staff Dr Allen worked with, training them to become Coffee Baristas, cooking and baking.
However, running a social enterprise has its hiccups. Dr Allen expressed that there was a time when DIB was running at a loss. But, throughout 10 years of its establishment, Dr Allen has manoeuvred DIB through challenging times. So far, DIB has trained more than 30 Deaf and autistic Deaf. Under DIB’s training, few of its former employees have achieved financial independence.
Dr Allen harbours a bigger dream for DIB. He envisioned DIB becoming the largest employer of Deaf people in the Asia Pacific.
To restore hope and dignity to all deaf people by improving their livelihood, through skills training, unbiased employment and deaf business entrepreneurship.
Shahar Koyok, better known as Shaq Koyok is an activist and award-winning indigenous artist who paints and weaves. He hails from Pulau Kempas, Banting and is from the Temuan tribe.
A series of traumatic childhood events fueled Shaq Koyok’s passion to champion Orang Asli (OA) rights. He was close to being displaced by land developers when builders encroached into the jungle area close to his village. That incident left an indelible mark on his young mind, and he channelled those feelings into artistic impressions. Shaq is also a familiar face at protests that seek to restore justice for the OA people.
His art is a reflection of the OA people and their dependence on the rainforest and nature. It also captures the struggles that OA communities face – issues such as poverty and inequality.
With over 10 years of experience in the arts industry, his work has been showcased in over 40 venues throughout Malaysia. His hard work and dedication as an indigenous artist have led to deserved recognition. Shaq bagged the Indigenous People Icon Award and the indigenous People Excellence Award by Tourism Selangor in 2015, Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment (2017), and the Eco-Business A List Award in 2021.
To me making an impact is when my efforts finally materialize and especially fighting the indigenous rights in this melting pot country. Let’s hope I have enough space and energy to do more and inspire others to do the same.
In 1998, Petrina Shee and her husband, Rev. Elisha co-founded Dignity for Children Foundation providing holistic care and education to urban poor children and the refugee community in Kuala Lumpur. Petrina is passionate about transformative education, so that underprivileged children may be agents of change in their families, communities and society.
In providing care to the poor communities surrounding the New Covenant Community Church pioneered in 1995 by her and her husband, Rev. Elisha, Petrina’s heart became heavily burdened by the illiteracy and abject poverty of the children and their families: they seemed to be without hope and denied a future where they could realize their full potential and be valuable contributors to society.
Spurred on by their desperate needs, Petrina embarked on formal training herself and went on to develop quality educational programmes based not only on what she had learnt but also on what children who are left behind specifically need to catch up.
Petrina holds two Master’s degrees: a Master of Arts in Holistic Child Development from the Malaysian Baptist Seminary and a Master of Education with majors in Curriculum and Pedagogy from the University of Southern Queensland. She also has an International Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy from Montessori Centre International, UK, as well as Lower and Upper Elementary Montessori Teaching Diploma from the North America Montessori Center.
Dignity has impacted and transformed over 7,000 lives through education. The completion rates and passing rates have improved dramatically in 2020 as the organisation and its students ploughed through the global pandemic. Since 1998, Dignity has also bagged several awards in honour of its recognition. Some of these awards include the 3G Children Welfare Award 2021 and 3G Advocacy Award by the Global Good Governance Awards (3G Awards) organised by Cambridge IFA in 2021, the United Nations Malaysia Award 2019 for contributions to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for the Leaving No One Behind category, and The Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support 2018 by The Big Heart Foundation.
Petrina is far from being finished in enriching the lives of children all over Malaysia. Her only hope is that one day, these children will have stories of success to tell.
For more info on Dignity for Children Foundation, click here.
No child should ever have to say that “I didn’t make in life because I was born poor”. Where the world is heading, we need all hands on deck in solving issues of climate change, highly spreadable diseases, economic disaster, wars and more. We need to bring everyone on board and leave no one behind. We believe that each child’s success is connected to greater success of the community, the nation and mankind.
Having worked as an engineer for five years, Koggelavani Muniandy found no fulfilment in her job. After a year of soul-searching, Koggelavani discovered she had a knack for teaching while tutoring children from various shelter homes. With a desire to continue educating and helping children, she reached out to her uncle, Balasubramaniam Somasundram, and cousin, Naaraayini Balasubramaniam, both of whom were regular volunteers.
In 2016, the trio launched GoodKids Malaysia, a social enterprise transforming the lives of underprivileged youth through counselling and the arts. Koggelavani is the organisation’s director. The trio makes a dynamic and unique team with a mixed bag of expertise; Balasubramaniam is a counselling psychologist with over 30 years of experience, Naaraayini, a singer and musician, who also holds a Diploma in Psychology and Koggelavani, a passionate educator and teacher.
In 2021, GoodKids launched ‘Apa Pandang-Pandang’, a project to capture the expressions of B40 children who were disconnected from the ‘world’ due to a lack of digital access during the pandemic. There is also ‘GoodKids League’ an annual performing arts competition where students are trained to tell their stories using drum buckets and instruments made from recycled materials. A similar initiative called ‘When Bells Meet Buckets’ is a dance rendition where students perform the Bharatanatyam dance to bucket drum beats. The performance tells stories of children growing up in the B40 communities and the struggles they face.
Aside from the arts, GoodKids Academy provides mental health awareness, emotional management, and coping skills for students from various backgrounds to learn how to deal with the challenges they are facing. Over the span of 6 years, GoodKids Malaysia has impacted over 800 youth from the B40 community.
To know that the work that I do speaks for itself in years to come, without me being there to explain. The students we work with will be the future ambassadors championing mental health awareness!
Kai Song Eer was only 18 when she built CollegeLAH, a non-profit social project helping underprivileged communities access tertiary education. The online platform reached over 200 youth in 2014. While pursuing her Master’s in Information Engineering with a focus on Machine Learning, Kai Song co-founded Rakan Tutor, a non-profit organisation offering free one-to-one tutoring to secondary school students from low-income households at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. Rakan Tutor currently has over 500 volunteer tutors assisting students in 50 schools nationwide.
In the past, Kai Song worked at the top-tier management consulting firm McKinsey & Company in London where she helped clients with growth strategies in the UK, US, Middle East and Europe. She was also the Chief of Staff and the CEO of an Advanced Analytics startup in London. But with her technical foundation and passion for solving education inequalities in Malaysia, Kai Song returned home after spending many years in the UK.
Kai Song took it up a notch and harnessed data science to solve education inequalities with the creation of GuruLab in early 2022. The platform aims to improve the English proficiency of learners and seeks to address the shortcomings of teaching English in schools and tuition centres.
GuruLab recently secured a US$ 1 million (RM 4.3million) seed round investment from an investor who saw value in the initiative. Currently, GuruLab caters to roughly 200 students within the age range of 13 to 17 years old.
For more info on Rakan Tutor, click here.
My desire to drive change arises when I experience first-hand the issues that our community faces and see a gap that I can personally fill within my means. In the case of Rakan Tutor, I worked with many teachers over the pandemic and was disheartened to hear about the learning loss and the lack of access to remedial programs. I thought about the network I have and decided that we can collectively make a small impact on the wider problem.
Chan Soon Seng joined the inaugural Teach For Malaysia (TFM) Cohort in 2012 after quitting corporate. In the back of his mind, Soon Seng thought it would be a two-year stint at the independent, not-for-profit organisation with a vision to see a quality education accessible and available for all in Malaysia.
However, like many other TFM fellows and alumni, the experience changed him. Inspired and driven to change after seeing the challenges faced by the students, Soon Seng continued as a staff member at Teach For Malaysia for six years.
He is the current Chief Executive Offer (CEO) of TFM and he envisions the holistic development of children through education in order for them to thrive in the 21st century. He is also committed to addressing the inequalities of students from low-income households by providing laptops and free online lessons.
Soon Seng holds a Degree in Management and Marketing from Murdoch University, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education from Universiti Utara Malaysia and he was appointed a member of the Teacher Professionalism Special Task Force under the National Education Advisory Council 2018-2020. He was also a recipient of the Malaysian Australian Alumni Council’s Community Achievement Award in 2021 and listed on Tatler’s Asia’s Most Influential list.
TFM recently won the 2022 Merdeka Award for its outstanding contribution to education
For more info on Teach For Malaysia, click here.
To me, making an impact is when we enable others to shape a better future for themselves – in order to live lives that they truly love. In order to make a meaningful, lasting impact, I believe that we need to prioritise our relationships with those we serve, and work collectively. We cannot truly move forward as a society unless we move together.
As an environmental consultant, opportunities were plenty for Dr Mohamed Yunus Bin Mohamed Yasin in the UK where he completed his PhD. in Chemical Engineering. However, he returned to Malaysia and worked for SIRIM Berhad, followed by Khazanah Nasional. From a young age, Dr Mohamed Yunus had seen his father helping the underserved such as the rubber estate workers, in the early 1970s.
Dr Mohamed Yunus kicked off The Young Scientific Explorer (YSE) project aimed to get more local schools involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The project was launched in nine schools with 40 pupils per school in 2001.
By the end of 2003, YSE was gaining momentum. Together with his friends, the idea for a school-level science fair or the Science Fair for Young Children (SFYC) came about. The science fair had about a quarter of a million participants in the last 13 years, and in 2021, the project conducted an average of 1 science fair a day.
He is the Founding President of ASTI or the Association of Science, Technology and Innovation. The formation of ASTI also includes more start-up projects to promote science and scientific thinking such as the Young Inventors Challenge (YIC) and Creative and Critical Thinking (CCT).
Dr Mohamed Yunus was the keynote speaker for a Youth Conference in Singapore officiated by Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and was invited by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the US State Department, to participate in its premier professional exchange program, the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). Recently he served in the National Education Review Committee in charge of STEM education for the Ministry of Education.
My idea of making an impact is best summed up by Lao Tzu who said “A leader is best when people barely know he exists when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” This is the only real long-term impact one can create for another person.
After winning the Miss Malaysian Indian in 2003, Danutcha Catriona Singh switched from the pageantry realm to social activities and humanitarian efforts. Being involved in the pageantry gave her a leg-up, Danutcha was presented with the opportunity to participate in a cultural exchange program in Cambodia. In Cambodia, she met the Malaysian Ambassador to Cambodia, the Minister of Woman And Community Affairs and various NGOs inspiring Danutcha to get involved in several NGOs where she now has over ten years of experience.
In 2004, she was part of a week-long recce mission to Banda Aceh, Indonesia, after the tsunami disaster in 2004, where she assisted in translation for foreign aid workers.
With a Degree in Communications from Murdoch University, she worked as an editor with RTM and a journalist with the New Straits Times before taking a bold step to join SOLS 24/7, a leading in-person and online education provider for the poor in Timor Leste as a volunteer. Danutcha is currently the Managing Director and oversees fundraising activities for SOLS 24/7 Malaysia.
To date, SOLS 247/7 Malaysia has trained 33,000 students through its community centres, provided over 800 scholarships under SOLS Solar Academy and recruited more than 4963 volunteers under its NGOhub. SOLS 247/7 is the recipient of multiple accolades including the Golden Globe Tigers Summit NGO Leader Award in 2015, the UNESCO Wenhui Award for Educational Innovation in 2016 and the Social Entrepreneur of the Year, SME & Entrepreneurship Business Awards in 2017.
For more info on SOLS24/7, click here.
It’s taking actions, whether big or small, with a sincere intention to make life better for people within your circle of influence. I believe that if those who have more can help those who have less, that positive impact will help to elevate us as a community, society and nation.
Being born deaf did not stop Dr Anthony Alexander Chong Vee Yee from reaching for the stars. He was the University of Malaya’s first Deaf doctorate recipient in 2021. He graduated with a PhD degree in Sociology and two masters, namely in Linguistics and Deaf Studies, with a focus on Cultural Studies. His second master’s degree was funded through the Nippon Foundation’s World Deaf Leadership Scholarship
The challenges he went through during his academic journey, namely the discrepancy in sign language taught and used by the Deaf, spurred Anthony to do more for the Deaf community. Anthony and his colleagues established MyBIM (Malaysian Sign Language and Deaf Studies Association) in 2014.
Dr Anthony has been an activist for the Deaf and a BIM educator for more than 20 years. He has spoken about the improvements to be made for the Deaf community at various conferences. Being a researcher at its core, Dr Anthony published written articles and organised programmes highlighting the Malaysian Sign Language (BIM) and the barriers faced by the Deaf.
In 2021, Dr Anthony was the recipient of the Krishen Jit fund and currently working with Deaf communities to create a bank of literature utilising BIM.
An impact means meaningful influence and effect. All advocacy work needs to be impactful enough to create an opening for the Deaf community to go through to make themselves known. Continuous work is important to keep the opening intact and wide so that we can sustain our existence and importance in society.
With a Masters in Biomedical Engineering from Imperial College London and his passion for education, Nigel Sim decided to combine the two. In 2015, he co-founded Chumbaka, a social enterprise to inspire children to create with technology.
Prior to this, Nigel was attached to Teach For Malaysia and taught English in a high-need secondary school in Sekinchan, Selangor for 2 years. His passion for education never dimmed his interest and knowledge in engineering.
During his teaching career, he coached students in STEM and innovation-related competitions. To date, Chumbaka has impacted over 35,000 students directly, and over 1,000 schools have participated in Chumbaka’s programs.
For more info on Chumbaka, click here.
From an educator’s point of view, making an impact means helping students to be better versions of themselves. To see them grow and achieve their fullest potential, knowing that you have left a mark in their lives.
For 37 years, Lucy Lim has been a freelance sign language interpreter, having worked with the Malaysian Deaf community. She obtained her MA in Special Needs and Certificate Interpreting Training Programme at Grant MacEwan College in 1985.
She’s also an advocate for the deaf community and has taken full advantage of sign language, known as BIM (Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia), and turned it into a full-fledged career. Although her career isn’t the typical 9-5, Lucy’s career has seen her serving the deaf community in tremendous ways. For instance, offering her services to the police force and interpreting for the launch of sports at Selangor’s Deaf ceremony.
Going a step further, she’s interpreted for the Deaf Olympics in Taipei. Currently, Lucy is attached to the Malaysian Deaf Sports Association (MSDeaf) and freelance interpreter serving the Malaysian Deaf community and serves as a resource person to various organisations in the country. Her achievements truly deserve applause as she continues to inspire us all.
Making an impact is to ensure information accessibility for all and to make a positive difference in the lives of those in the Deaf community. I/We Can’t to I/ We can! Let’s be on this journey together.
Melissa Tanya Gomes is a former management consultant, teacher and mother of 2; she holds a degree in Economics and a postgraduate diploma in Education with distinction.
When she was deciding on a career pathway, her heart was set on social work. But relenting to societal pressures, Melissa landed a job as a management consultant longing to contribute to the marginalised communities. Her time came after she heard a radio advertisement by Teach For Malaysia.
Melissa took up the challenge, and her journey to solve education inequality in Malaysia began. Being posted to a high-need national school only made her passion for education grow stronger, having tasted the full benefits education can bring.
Through her teaching journey, Melissa discerned that there is a strong need for teachers to be empowered, and given the appropriate support to change the classroom and inspire their students.
This led her to form Edvolution Enterprise in 2016 with her best friend, Janice Chong. The organisation is built on the premise of cultivating competent education leaders at all levels of the education system. Edvolution provides end-to-end support for capacity building in educators and curriculum development for teachers and students.
Edvolution’s flagship programme, Teacher Empowerment for School Transformation’, (TEST), continues to reduce teacher absenteeism by 6% in five months. The programme was shortlisted as one of the top 150 innovations in education by HundrEd Global.
Edvolution has reached 14 schools and 8918 students in its first two years. Melissa is also a proud recipient of the 2020 Prestige 40 Under 40 young women leaders award and currently sits on a global Advisory Council to review Teacher Leadership across the globe.
For more info on Edvolution Enterprise, click here.
Being generous with your resources (time, money, skills) to make small changes in someone’s life. Efficient impact is achieved when you continuously strive to make today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today.
Notably, one of the most highly regarded teachers in Malaysia, teaching, however, was not Samuel Isaiah’s first choice of profession. Torn between his love for music and the expectation to do medicine, Samuel enrolled on a TESL (Teaching of English as a Second Language) Degree and trained at the Teachers Training College in Penang.
It was at SK Runchang, Pahang, where his love for the profession blossomed. As a recent graduate, his dream was to serve in an urban school. But when he was deployed to the rural school, he found his calling, travelling close to 200km daily for eight years. Samuel built lasting connections with the indigenous students and embraced them for who they were, witnessing the amount of potential they had.
As an English teacher at SK Runchang, he embarked on a project to create a fully equipped English classroom with computers and tablets. He continued to accelerate the students’ English learning through training the teachers. As a result, the pass rate among indigenous children increased.
He has been recognised for his efforts locally through the bestowment Best Teacher Award 2018, Best Innovative Teacher 2018, Star Golden Hearts Award (2019) and the National Hero Teacher Award 2019. He was also one of 10 finalists for the Varkey Foundation and Unesco Global Teacher Prize in 2020 for his contribution to his profession, selected from over 12,000 nominations worldwide. In 2020, he received an award and was recognised as the Global Teacher Prize top 10 Best Teachers in the world, being the first Malaysian teacher to earn it.
Currently, he is the Program Director of Pemimpin GSL, an organisation that focuses on providing professional development programmers to equip school leaders to facilitate high-quality learning for students.
With years of experience accumulated, Samuel received the 2022 Merdeka Award for his continuous commitment to improving and uplifting the standard of education among the Orang Asli children. Samuel completed his master’s degree in Educational Policy and Leadership at the State University of New York under a Fullbright scholarship.
For more info on Pemimpin GSL, click here.
To me making an impact is about not focusing on my own ideals. I believe it’s all about defining, executing, nurturing and sustaining what we want together.
Felicia Yoon is the co-founder and financial controller of Arus Academy, a social enterprise making learning a lifelong journey for its students with sustainable education. Not only did Felicia obtain her Degree in Actuarial Science from the London School of Economics, but she also got a teaching Diploma specialising in Bahasa Melayu. Felicia’s passion for education has led to years of impactful work along with 10 years of experience within the education sector.
Her experience as a Teach For Malaysia fellow for two years opened her eyes to the education gaps and their flaws. This inspired the launch of Arus Academy in 2014, alongside educators who seek to ensure that all students get an equal shot at education.
Previously, Felicia was on the core team to develop Global Citizenship Education (GCED) learning modules with UNICEF through Project-based Learning aligned with the national KSSM syllabus. Aside from leading Arus Academy, she now heads the school at Buku Jalanan Chow Kit and is passionate about bringing quality education to the children of Chow Kit.
For more information on Arus Academy, click here.
When I think about impact, I think about meaningful impact. Without meaning, impact can either be positive or negative. Meaningful impact is when people find the change important, useful, and relevant.
Assoc Prof Dr Amer Siddiq is the director at Universiti Malaya Community Engagement Centre (UM Cares), specialising in the department of Psychological Medicine. He is also the Chief Coordinator at the Universiti Malaya of Addiction Sciences, having been involved in the Nicotine Addiction Research Group, investigating gaps in upscaling existing smoking cessation services in Malaysia.
Dr Amer was also the technical and expert advisor to the Ministry of Health for policy documents including the Tobacco Control National Strategic Plan 2015-2020 document and mQuit Services project which is involved in strengthening the “O” of MPOWER.
He now leads the team at UM Cares, a central centre to connect the university and external stakeholders to engage in community-related activities. Aside from this, Dr Amer works on support activities. He also seeks to secure external grants for the university, while also building a social innovation platform for Universiti Malaya. Additionally, he also oversees the impact team, where he plans impact activities.
Larger than life and titles, Tan Sri Tunku Puteri Intan Safinaz Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, is the daughter of the 28th Sultan of Kedah, Al-Sultan Tuanku Al-Haj Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah. The royal princess lives life purposefully and champions causes that concern the people and our environment.
Elected as Chairperson of the Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS) in 2018, she is currently serving her second term. Prior to the election, Tunku Puteri Intan Safinaz has been faithfully serving the MRCS Kedah Chapter since 1998.
Being the first female Chairperson of MRCS in its 70-year history, she is committed to promoting women’s leadership at all levels and addressing issues of gender equality and inclusivity.
Aside from MRCS, she is also the chair of Yayasan Sultanah Bahiyah (YSB), a civil society organisation, for the past 25 years. YSB focuses on the needs of the local community; with emphasis on health, education and youth-based activities.
Tunku Puteri Intan Safinaz is a firm believer in an integrated ground-up, top-down approach when it comes to transforming lives and communities. In all her efforts she emphasises local action and encourages direct participation from the local community.
She is the Royal Patron and adviser of the Langkawi UNESCO Global Geopark, which is a UNESCO program that recognises the island of Langkawi in Kedah as having unique geographical qualities. The status gives recognition to the island for being able to balance the development and preservation of its natural resources.
The princess is also the Pro Chancellor of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and of Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM). As a commissioned officer of the Royal Malaysian Armed Forces, she is the only female ranked as the Brigadier General and serves as a commander of the volunteer unit Regiment 509 Askar Wataniah In Penang.
I feel that if anyone is blessed by privilege of any sort, whether it is of position in society, a gift of writing or the arts, of intellect or creativity; one is almost obliged to apply oneself to serve society so as to make the most impact and be a source of positive change.
Befrienders is a non-profit organisation providing free emotional support continuously, day and night. The organisation came to be following the communal riots that took place in May 1969 when the citizens of Kuala Lumpur had nowhere to turn to if they needed to speak about their worries or empty out their feelings, having no choice but to carry their restlessness on their backs. Worried about their mental and emotional states, however, a group of Malaysians consisting of psychiatrists and psychologists from University Hospital banded together to start Befrienders Kuala Lumpur.
Kenny Lim is the executive director of Befrienders Kuala Lumpur. Callers are given the option of staying anonymous for privacy reasons. He plays a pivotal role at Befrienders as a trained volunteer in providing emotional support via telephone, e-mail and face-to-face to those who are feeling depressed and suicidal. He also facilitates support for suicide loss survivors. Kenny also trains and supervises new volunteers, ensuring they provide the best possible care to anyone calling in. He frequently gives talks and runs workshops for various groups on topics such as active listening and suicide prevention. Within a time span of 2015 until 2021, calls to the Befrienders hotline have doubled from 21,256 to 44,408.
Impact for me is working together in sharing knowledge and information to reduce the stigma on mental health issues and suicide. This is with the hope that anyone who is struggling emotionally will be able to reach out for help without the fear of being judged.
Dato Dr Musa Mohd Nordin holds a few impressive roles. A renowned paediatrician and neonatologist at the KPJ Damansara Specialist Hospital also lead several impact organisations.
In 2014, Dr Musa founded IMARET (IMAM Response & Relief Team), powered by the Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (IMAM), providing humanitarian aid relief to any disaster and outreach programs to marginalised communities. Dr Musa also founded Rumah Solehah, a shelter for women and children living with HIV/AIDS and is an on-call paediatrician to OrphanCare, an NGO that set up Malaysia’s first baby hatch. In 2020, IMARET won the Star Golden Hearts Award.
He was also Honoured with the Outstanding Asian Paediatrician Award in 2012 by Asia Pacific Paediatric Association (APPA). Additionally, Dr Musa received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Federation of Islamic Medical Associations (FIMA) in Turkey. Currently, he remains IMARET’s advisor while actively involved in social work.
Impact for me means a few things. Firstly, to unflinchingly advocate for evidence-based public health at all times, pandemic or otherwise. It’s also to inspire young healthcare workers (HCW) and volunteers to be champions of sustainable change. It also means access to basic healthcare services, vaccinations and safe water supply to the underserved and impoverished communities and empowering them with health education.
Sarah Ann Chou is a mental health activity manager at Doctors Without Borders (MSF). Ever since she was a teenager, Sarah was exposed to the reality of migrants and refugees. During her time at The International Organization for Migration, she was further exposed to the mental health vulnerabilities of this population.
The desire to serve refugees and the marginalised community came after witnessing countless injustice incidents refugees went through. Sarah then left her previous job of eight years and pursued her Master’s in Clinical Psychology. She found the perfect fit when she discovered Doctors Without Borders, an organisation providing healthcare services to the stateless Rohingya and refugee communities in Penang.
Sarah felt like she hit the jackpot by being able to work with MSF, a platform giving her the opportunity to support the mental well-being of refugees. Working with MSF for almost five years, she now works with a team of 16 amazing people to provide mental health and psychosocial support to refugees and migrants in Penang.
Impact for me is affecting change through action. It’s about being aware and recognizing an issue and then doing something about it.
Dr Siti Noraida Habibullah had three dreams when she was growing up: a career in medicine, being a good wife and mother and serving orphaned children. Her first dream was achieved with her graduating as a Medical Doctor (MBBS, Malaya) with an MBA (MBA, Ballarat).
With her daughter in steady positions in their lives, the practising doctor quit her job at a private hospital in Shah Alam and set on pursuing her third dream in 2015.
She founded Little Steps Charity Organisation, an umbrella brand for her charity endeavours in 2017. This includes Haneen Firdous, a home for girls in Klang focusing on providing wholesome upbringing and education to at-risk girls. Haneen Firdous currently shelters 12 girls and provides individualised focus to each.
Dr Siti Noraida’s work is also notable outside of Malaysia, she founded a free clinic for the poor in the Kg Chhnang province in Cambodia in collaboration with other NGOs; Angkatan Sukarelawan Asas Sejahtera and Hope Spring Welfare Foundation. She received an award from the Government of Cambodia for the National Reconstruction of Cambodia for her role in developing and providing free healthcare in 2016.
The Senior Lecturer at the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University’s current project is the Klinik Amal Muhajir. The clinic caters to the medical needs of numerous refugees in the city. The offered services include Obstetrics, Paediatrics, Surgery, Orthopaedics, Mental Health & Psychology, Dietary Counselling and Post-Partum Counselling.
Her next step includes the opening of Klinik Pergigian Amal Muhajir, a dental clinic for the migrant population.
For more info on Klinik Amal Muhajir, click here.
To me, impact means providing solutions, long-term solutions or making a significant difference in the lives of those in need. This is so that they don’t need to depend on charity, are self-sufficient, have self-esteem and are able to hold their heads up high just like the rest of us. Impact to me also means you’re able to inspire people around you to do good for others and start a positive ripple effect.
In 2016, Pam Guneratnam founded Humankind, a social impact organisation with a vision of a world where everyone recognizes themselves as valuable, needed and connected and with the ability to make a positive difference. Humankind operates with the aim to advance mental health and well-being through creative evidence-based community mental health programs and professional services.
Humankind’s prominent projects include KitaReka, a safe creative space for people from all walks of life to express themselves. Kitareka has been implemented in schools, open studios, and even in the work field where employers and employees can relieve their stress.
The organisation also practices an asset-based community development approach in building collaboratively with our partners. Pam was also the 2019 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from Richmont Graduate University, USA and a 2020 Acumen Fellow.
Kindness is a powerful tool that is available to everyone. When our abilities are used in service of others, everyone benefits including ourselves. Impact for me is when mental health care is grounded in community life and the social and emotional well-being of vulnerable individuals improves as a result of care from community members who have been empowered and enabled.
Thila Laxshman, a Tamil songbird, began the Love Autism Society of Malaysia (Persama) in 2012 to raise awareness regarding autism and help parents who have children under the spectrum.
Her inspiration behind founding it was her son, Danvi, who is also autistic. He was diagnosed after they noticed changes in his behaviour at the age of three, which was around the same time she secured her dream job and chose to quit after a short while.
The organisation currently has 300 parents as members nationwide. Persama works to help other families with autistic children understand the specific needs of their children. However, their focus is to assist low-income families to gain specialised healthcare and awareness services.
Thila organises Jananam through Persama, an event held to generate funds for the NGO annually. In 2022, Persama collaborated with JKFashion, a designer, for the Autism Rules Fashion 2022 event. The event became a platform for Danvi and other autistic children to showcase their art paintings using clothing as a medium. The profits from the event were channelled to families of autistic artists.
Making an impact overall gives me a deep meaning, love is the key to everything in this world. Reaching out to those in need with love is all about myself. I see and feel love in every little thing that I do. It keeps me going and keeps me lifted.
Rafidah@Rafizah Ahmad is a mother of two children, her daughter, Janna is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy(CP). As a former engineer turned community builder, she’s also an advocate for CP, willing and determined to create opportunities for the CP community. Rafidah is also a Meta-certified community manager.
With a need to help other parents whose children live with CP and the need to educate the public on matters concerning CP, she founded Cerebral Palsy Malaysia or Gabungan Anak-Anak Palsi Serebrum (GAPS) in 2016. GAPS is a non-profit organisation with a mission to create possibilities for those diagnosed with CP, in order to improve their quality of living.
Rafidah also initiated the Adaptive Dikir Barat group and Asia’s first Frame Football team (in collaboration with Pan-Disability Football Malaysia). In 2021, GAPS was selected as one of the top 1% community leaders of the most impactful communities globally from more than 14,000 applicants for a Facebook Community Accelerator Program.
For me, making an impact is more than just giving a helping hand, but also empowering the people I am helping and enabling them to be a changemaker
As a trained psychologist in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Adlerian Psychology, Ellisha Othman explored the corporate finance realm before making the switch to a clinical psychologist. While completing her undergraduate studies in Australia, her experience overseas made Ellisha realise the lack of mental health resources in Malaysia. As a mental health advocate, she was determined to make a change. Elisha felt convicted to pursue a career as a clinical psychologist. Today, she’s a clinical psychologist and the managing director at Thrive Well, a trauma-informed community mental health social enterprise.
As the Managing Director of Thrive Well, she leads the organisation to provide sustainable and accessible trauma-informed mental health research, advocacy, consulting, community development and clinical services to serve the organisations and communities in need. She has also extended her services to other organisations providing mental health consultancy and services focusing on workplace well-being strategy.
Currently, she’s the Vice President of the recently formed National Alliance of Mental Health. While juggling her career as a clinical psychologist, Ellisha is active in various mental health and advocacy groups and advises universities on trauma-informed mental health curriculum and practices.
For more info on Thrive Well, click here.
Impact is when we successfully include the social determinants of mental health such as health, education, and occupation in the delivery of all mental health services that will ultimately improve the individual, family, community and organisational resilience and quality of life.
For over 30 years, Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood has contributed greatly to the health sector in Malaysia. She graduated with a Doctor of Medicine (MD), has a Masters in Obstetrics and Gynaecology from the same university and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and the Gynaecologists United Kingdom. She also completed executive education at the International Management and Development Centre, IMD Lausanne and Berkeley Law.
Aside from her role as full-time Professor and Executive Director of the newly established Sunway Centre for Planetary Health at Sunway University in Malaysia, she holds several other titles. Some of these titles include being a member of the Malaysian Climate Action Council and ConsultativeCouncil for Foreign Policy the government of Malaysia, a Senior Fellow of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Centre and the Pro-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University Malaysia.
She has paved the way medically through several initiatives such as the Under Secretary General for Partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Chief of the World Humanitarian Summit secretariat at the United Nations, and Chief of the HumanitarianResponse Branch at UNFP. In 1999, Dr Jemilah founded MERCY Malaysia, a non-profit organisation offering medical services recognized globally.
Dr Jemilah has also bagged several deserved awards locally and internationally and her work in the medical field has seen a tremendous impact. In 2019, she bagged The Malaysian Merdeka Award in 2015 and the ASEAN Prize in 2019, the InauguralIsa Award for Humanity in 2013 from the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Gandhi-King-Ikeda Award for community development and peacebuilding from Morehouse College, USA.
For more info on Sunway Centre for Planetary Health at Sunway University, click here.
For me, making an impact is about actions that result in positive, powerful and transformative changes to society and people’s lives.
Arissa Jemaima Ikram, who has over three years of experience in humanitarian and fieldwork, saw that there is more to be done in the health scene for the marginalised communities in Malaysia. In 2021, Doctors on Ground (DnG), came into the scene. The organisation may be a newcomer but it has assisted in medical funding and medical aid to over 700 families across eight states in Malaysia.
Keep an eye out for what Arissa has in store as the recent Law graduate aspires to redesign the future of healthcare for marginalised communities.
For more info on Doctors on Ground (DnG), click here.
Impact is to engage in solutions that are identified, implemented and sustained by communities. It is to encourage stronger governance among themselves, but also decrease dependency on external aid – that’s how I would define impact, and it is how I have designed DnG to develop its programmes and other initiatives.
On top of his regular 9-to-5 profession as the Consultant Dermatologist at the Pantai Hospital, Kuala Lumpur, Dr Steven Kim-Weng Chow devotes his time to growing the medical profession landscape in Malaysia and answering the call to serve local communities. He served a full term as an elected member of the Malaysian Medical Council.
As the serving president of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Association (FPMPAM) in Malaysia, his notable contributions include declaring the 10th of October as Malaysia’s Doctors’ Day in 2014.
On top of that, Dr Steven was the founding President of the Addiction Medicine Association of Malaysia (AMAM). During his tenure, a medical community-based treatment program was in place treating more than 30,000 patients with opioid addiction since 2002.
Dr Steven initiated the FPMPAM/CARE program in 2006, providing medical outreach camps to remote and underserved communities from Kedah to East Malaysia, among his other duties.
Committed to improving the lives of the marginalised, Dr Steven chaired DRsforALL of the FPMPAM in 2018, a private-public partnership program together with the Ministry of Health to provide sustainable basic medical aid for the Orang Asli in Pos Lenjang and Pos Titom. The output of the program includes the formation of the nation’s first Orang Asli Medical Post in Kampung Dayok, Pos Lenjang.
The clinic currently runs on solar power but has been serving 4,000 residents from scattered villages. Further, 22 youths from the Orang Asli community in first responder treatment and basic first aid. In 2021, the DRSforALL ran vocational training for 33 Orang Asli volunteers to become paramedics in the long run through the MEDIK OAs initiative.
The impact of our DRSforALL MedikOA initiative is to build community self-reliance and empowerment in healthcare for the Orang Asli living in remote and difficult to access areas in Malaysia. This game-changer approach is to develop a self-sustaining vocational program for OA youths as paramedics and allied healthcare professionals who are able to cater for their community needs as well as their own career advancement.
Ganesh Muren is the founder and CEO of Saora Industries, a social enterprise established in 2014. Saora Industries operates with a mission to change the world one step at a time through safe drinking water and sustainable energy. Ganesh also oversees Saora Plus, the philanthropic arm of Saora Industries, established to bring carefully designed community development initiatives to life. Aside from providing safe drinking water, they build communal toilets, light up villages with solar lights and reach out to underserved communities through empowerment and socioeconomic programs.
His desire to aid the people began when he embarked on a backpacking trip to India and saw people obtaining water to drink from slum areas, where they washed their clothes and even passed motion all within the same place. He then visited a town near his university in Malaysia, only to find out the situation there was similar. After recognising such issues, he decided it was time to do something about it and began working on a solar-powered system that would purify the water and provide the villagers with electricity.
To date, Saora Plus has impacted thousands of beneficiaries across 7 different locations – Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Pahang and Sarawak. With the use of solar lighting, they have lighted up 344 homes, provided 2.6 million litres of clean water and implemented 103 water and sanitation projects. Recognised for their immense impact, Saora Industries was awarded the Here For Group award in 2016 by Laureate Group Chicago, the Force For Good award in 2017 by Malaysia Tatler, and the Cemex Tec Award in 2018 in Monterrey, Mexico.
Having trained as an Architect-Urbanist in Australia and Malaysia for two decades, Joanne is a Creative Community Advocate who focuses on the fields of education, volunteerism and urban farming with two NGOs; Kebun-Kebun Bangsar, as well YWCA KL.
Kebun-Kebun Bangsar is a green garden which is designed, built and maintained by the communities and the volunteers. As its chairperson, Joanne is involved with the management and the operation of the urban farms, which is where they ensure they provide education to the underprivileged communities in KL to improve their access to healthy food.
In YWCA KL, she is the 2nd Vice President and there she co-leads the Youth Wing Creative Programme, which was designed for the students of YWCA VTOC (Vocational Training Opportunity Centre). It concentrates on providing vocational skills training for young women and girls regardless of their backgrounds who come from economically disadvantaged communities.
The ability to inspire others to act upon a common goal that benefits the society and planet.
Roots & Shoots Malaysia is part of a worldwide youth programme founded by Dr Jane Goodall. Jane initiated the youth-led programme as she sought to inspire through youth empowerment and volunteerism. Roots & Shoots was launched to involve young people to make positive changes for people, animals and the environment.
In 2015, TP Lim established Roots & Shoots Malaysia, placing service projects at its forefront. The organisation believes that youth have the power to change the future when they are inspired, equipped and well informed about the issues around them. With the launch of the Roots & Shoots Malaysia Awards (RASMA), youths are encouraged to volunteer with local NGO partners through impactful activities. Some of the amazing work done by the NGO partners include the protection of tigers, sun bears and turtles; rainforest and biodiversity conservation and many others.
In 2021, RASMA ran for five months, involving 83 volunteers who completed the program, with nearly 7,000 hours of volunteer work clocked in.
As the president of Roots & Shoots Malaysia, TP Lim works with a dedicated team of staff and volunteers to ensure that Malaysian youth are given the opportunity to make their voices heard and their ideas tested – to create a sustainable future for humans and animals alike.
Celine Lim, a member of the Kayan tribe from Long Pilah, was formerly an educator for eight years. Being an indigenous woman, Celine is well-versed with the struggles of her community, especially in regard to land rights, cultural identity and the diminishing way of life of the indigenous community.
Since 2019, Celine is the managing director at SAVE Rivers, a Miri-based CSO that advocates for indigenous people’s rights and environmental issues. SAVE Rivers have joined hands with different NGOs and government bodies to address the plights of Baram communities. Current projects include the Baram Heritage Survey, an initiative to document wildlife, land use and social data at Baram River Basin.
Celine feels a great sense of responsibility to raise awareness among the public and local community on the importance of conserving the environment because of her love for nature and her people. Her current contribution at SAVE Rivers may only scratch the surface but she hopes that her presence in the space would encourage more marginalised communities to participate and make decisions that affect their lives and communities.
Impact is when real changes happen that include marginalised and discriminated voices building towards a reality of equal opportunity and treatment. A reality that is not based on race, gender or economic background but on the character and capability of the individual.
A former marine biologist and researcher at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) in seaweed cultivation projects, Japson Wong Vun Hueng’s interest in arts have been limited. But that changed when he created his car using unwanted styrofoam and some red cloth for his wedding ceremony. Soon he was repurposing scrap for decoration and furnishing his first house.
In 2014, Japson gathered a team of engineers, photographers, and teachers and founded JF-Productions KK. The aim was to gather materials from construction sites, and factories and transform the collected junk into interesting, functional items for sale.
Soon, Japson’s creations are gracing public spaces such as shopping malls in Sabah, Sabah Art Gallery, and the acclaimed Sunda Pangolin sculpture made out of recycled polycarbonate advertising boards and used bottles at Sandakan airport.
Recently, with the support from National Art Gallery, Sabah Art Gallery, CENDANA, and Sabah Tourism Board, Japson crafted a 3D installation art using polycarbonate and fibreglass at SAG Art Space with the title Wonders of Wilderness – the ocean, WOW1.0. Wow1.0 is currently the biggest installation of its kind in Malaysia.
Jason is also actively involved in teaching others to upcycle items through his enterprise to spread awareness of the environmental agenda to the young generation. In 2020, the Tanjung Aru Marine Ecosystem (TAME) Center was built at Tanjung Aru with the involvement of 20 other NGOs highlighting five pillars: marine, wildlife, recycle/upcycle, green technology and heritage to educate the general public.
Making an impact in upcycle and conservation is very important for me. When it’s not impactful, the general public wouldn’t understand the seriousness of environmental issues. My creations are often in large-scale and requires the collaboration with other NGOs. The collaboration synergy makes everything even more impactful.
While working as a Manager at the Advisory Division of PwC Malaysia, Rashvin Pal Singh realised that we have the resources, capital, human skills and talents to solve pressing social and environmental issues – only that we lack the political and human will. It was then that Rashvin decided to be part of the solution instead of sitting on the sidelines.
With his team of co-founders, they came up with a solution in the form Biji-biji initiative in 2013 when sustainability was still a new thing. The team at Biji-biji sowed the seeds of a better tomorrow by repurposing and reusing trash in the market. Now, it comprises subsidiaries across a few teams across Impact Accelerators, Circular Economy Solutions, and Mereka which is a talent development academy to build 21st century skills and mindsets.
Today, Biji-biji and Mereka have grown into a leading and award-winning group of social enterprises. In 2015, Biji-biji was the first and only social enterprise to win the SME Innovation Challenge by Alliance Bank. In 2018, Mereka completed its equity-funding round to raise impact investment from 121 investors.
Rashvin was listed on Prestige 40 Under 40 and has spoken at various local and global events including the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) 2019 in Addis Ababa. He was selected as an Obama Leader in the Asia Pacific inaugural cohort.
For more info on Biji-biji Initiative, click here.
Making an impact to me really comes from our ability to create social innovation by unlocking social, human, financial and technological capital. Through a lens of opportunity, we are able to transcend a world whereby scarcity of resources dominates our decision-making, towards a more inclusive and sustainable future.
A marine scientist by training, Alvin Chelliah has been diving since he was in high school after a family trip to Perhentian Island. An eye-opening trip that led him to learn more about the coral reefs and marine ecosystem. Alvin joined Reef Check Malaysia in 2011 and started as a trainee volunteer diver. His role evolved into Reef Check Course Director and Green Fins Assessor Trainer providing training and assessment for dive centres and government agencies.
In 2014, Alvin settled in Tioman to helm the Cintai Tioman programme aiming to reduce impacts on the reefs and engage with the local community in coral reef conservation and management. Together, the local communities and the founding members are collectively known as the Tioman Marine Conservation Group (TMCG). Now, the group has 65 members spanning from 7 different villages on Tioman island.
As part of the conservation programme, TMCG runs a recycling programme. In 2020, TMCG removed 37 ghost nets that weighed over 4,000kg and more than 700 crown-of-thorns starfish, a known threat to coral reefs.
TMCG has also introduced Responsible Tourism programmes to reduce the impacts of diving, snorkelling and day-to-day resort operations to ensure the local island remains pristine. TMCG now works in tandem with the Department of Fisheries Malaysia (DOF) under the DOF’s Reef Care programme.
At the same time, Alvin continues to run various research programmes to better understand the nation’s ocean ecosystem, from being the lead scientist for Biosphere Expeditions in Malaysia to monitoring annual bleaching, coral spawning and coral reef health.
For more info on Reef Check Malaysia, click here.
To me, anyone that has identified a serious issue affecting people’s lives, and is working towards making long-term, institutionalised change to overcome this issue is making an impact.
Growing up in the 90s, Ili Nadiah Dzulfakar witnessed a fair share of biodiversity collapses in Malaysia. Her first step was to embark on an environmental science degree programme at Nottingham University.
But Ili Nadiah was no idle environmentalist. In 2019, Ili Nadiah and her friends founded Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY), a climate justice and feminist organisation led by young people in Malaysia. Four months later, the pressure group took to the road and rallied a 1000-strong crowd intending to highlight the climate crisis to the then-government.
The demonstration sparked international media attention. KAMY has matured as an organisation that works to strengthen the ecosystem of climate justice and climate governance in Malaysia through research and lobbying. Over the years, KAMY strengthened engagement with civil societies and vulnerable groups such as the indigenous communities to join hands to take action against climate change.
Ili Nadiah also co-founded Weaving Hopes for the Future, a programme to cultivate leadership and organisational skills amongst Malaysian indigenous communities, especially women and the youth. By using art, she hopes the indigenous communities in Malaysia will add value to the existing discussion on climate change.
She is also a consultant working in climate policy and risk, and business and human rights (BHR) with experience in several local think tanks and international institutions like the ISIS Malaysia, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, European Climate Foundation, Climate Tracker, Stanley Center for Peace and Security, INGKA group’s Young Leaders Council and the Swedish MFA international advisory group for the environment, climate and biodiversity.
For more info on Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY), click here.
A good impact should be inclusive, diverse and non-discriminating and must be felt by the most vulnerable in our society. In my work, I believe that good impacts should be life-changing for generations to come. It rewires our behaviour and our relationship with each other and with nature. And to do that, we must reimagine what a good world this could be and how we can collectively play a part in being in that good world.
Dr Yasmin Rasyid is a marine biologist by profession, she started her journey as an environmentalist in 1998 by volunteering at WWF-Malaysia. That first step resulted in her being part of the organisation as a science officer between 1997 to 2002 and was responsible for its outreach programmes.
Despite multiple paper publications, Malaysia lacks environmental audio materials. Recognising the gap, EcoKnights was established in 2005 producing audiovisual materials to generate more awareness of environmental issues in the country.
Through their dedication, the organisation planted 510 trees in degraded areas, cleaned three polluted urban rivers, engaged with 43 corporates and 115 stakeholders, and removed almost 10 tons of waste, among many other achievements the planet benefits.
The International Kuala Lumpur Eco Festival (KLEF), initiated in 2008, is Yasmin’s brainchild to reach more Malaysians through screening environmental-focused films and programmes.
Yasmin also founded PopTani, a social enterprise making urban farming mainstream in Malaysia and Asia. PopTani offers different-sized Aquaponics kits for growing organic herbs, fruits and vegetables making home farming more accessible. Yasmin is the recipient of the 2022 Prestige Women For Power award and the BrandLaureate CSR Leadership Awards 2018. EcoKnights earned the NGO Leadership Award during The Golden Globe Tiger Awards 2019.
For more info on EcoKnights, click here.
Impact means making a positive change, be it in society, or for an industry. Impact, to me, means a positive and continuous state of advancement for the betterment of all.
After graduating with a degree in environmental science and technology from Universiti Putra Malaysia, Wen Shin Chia worked for five months in a multinational agrochemical company. Although, deep down, she longed to do more for the environment.
Since finding environment-related work isn’t an easy feat in Malaysia, she opted to turn one of her university projects into a full-fledged business to cut down on water pollution.
Shin Chia established Green Yards, an enterprise that turns used cooking oil into eco soap and candles. Through Green Yards, Shin Chia aims to reduce water pollution by providing a channel for the public to dispose of cooking oil. Green Yards managed to stop 4.7 tonnes of cooking oil from being dumped.
An environmentalist at heart is the recipient of numerous honours and awards, including the prestigious Queen’s Young Leaders Award in 2018 and Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia. Shin Chia is currently working together with the indigenous community for a new product range and hopes the growth of Green Yards can be replicated regionally.
For more info on Green Yards, click here.
Making small contributions that directly or indirectly impacting the life and environment to a better future, one at a time.
The works of Nagarajan Rengasamy as the manager of The Forest and Coastal Programme at the Global Environment Centre (GEC) have been crucial to restoring and conserving Malaysia’s green lungs. The NGO established over 24 years ago has plenty of achievements to boast about, including more than 150 projects in over 15 countries on environmental issues. Furthermore, they have planted more than 550,000 mangrove and peat swamp forest trees with the assistance of 50,000 volunteers.
Nagarajan sharp eyes oversee the community-based natural resource management projects in Malaysia and have partnered with other NGOs to halt developmental projects that could harm the pristine environment such as the degazettement of Kuala Langat forest reserve.
He led more than 40 projects related to community-based forest conservation and rehabilitation management. In addition, he also introduced the concept of sustainability as a paradigm shift for community-based forest conservation and rehabilitation management.
Recently GEC was awarded the 2022 Merdeka Award for its extensive work on conserving and protecting the natural resources along with the environment in Malaysia.
For more info on Global Environment Centre, click here.
Making an impact by means of environmental conservation and protection at the local level bring multitude benefits by increasing the resilience of the ecosystem to heal from both natural and man-made disturbances and provide its essential services for the smooth functioning of the whole system.
Mat Luthfi is a Malaysian Youtuber and content creator residing in Kuala Lumpur. Aside from establishing his personal Youtube account, Mat is the co-founder of ML Studios where he shares a blend of information and entertainment, better known as infotainment. For instance, informational videos on breaking free from debt, history of different places and topics and fun facts.
Established in 2017, ML Studios has garnered 1.38 million subscribers and Mat continues to educate the public on different topics, promoting the acceptance of different cultures. He is also an author of four books and actively participates in charitable initiatives, social activism and grassroots movements.
Mat received several recognitions and awards including the ASEAN Top 50 Social Media Influencer Award 2019 by ASEAN Outstanding Business Awards 2019 and the Shout! Aloud Award in 2012 and 2013. In 2016, Mat represented Malaysia in London for the YouTube Social Change Summit by Google.
Making an impact for me means democratising public narratives and promoting the exchange of information and opinions that come from diverse backgrounds so that we will not be trapped in our own echo chambers.
A journalist with more than 15 years of experience working in news media—newswires, print, online, radio, and television—Melisa is currently Assistant Vice President & Senior Editor at Astro AWANI, where she anchors of several talk shows including ‘Consider This’ & ‘The Future Is Female’.
Prior to her foray into television, she was the Executive Producer & Anchor of the morning drive-time show for the business radio station, BFM89.9.
Throughout her career, Melisa has interviewed international thought-leaders and newsmakers including Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, theoretical physicist Professor Michio Kaku, the world’s first humanoid Artificial Intelligence SOPHIA the Robot, and former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed.
Melisa holds a Master’s in Journalism from New South Wales University, Sydney, and is an Economics & Public Administration graduate from Universiti Malaya. In 2017, she was a Wolfson Press Fellow with Cambridge University, researching news media in the era of Post-Truth & Disinformation.
Making an impact can sometimes be so incremental that it’s imperceptible. Effecting change can feel so slow until suddenly it’s instantaneous. In my job, making an impact can be as simple—and as profound—as having someone say, “I hadn’t thought about it that way”.
A dynamic communicator, Freda Liu wears many hats. She’s a highly sought-after speaker, emcee and moderator. She’s also a journalist and a published author of six books – ‘Life’s a Stage – Stories Of An Empowered Life’, ‘PR Yourself’, ‘Shake & Spear Your Business: The Romeo & Juliet Way’, ‘Everybody Loves Ray’ (biography), ‘Bursting Fixed Mindsets’ and ‘In Your Skin’. Her writing imparts wisdom on personal branding, business insights, female entrepreneurship and more.
She majored in Marketing with a Bachelor of Business from the University of Southern Queensland, completed her Postgraduate Diploma in Design Thinking and is certified as a Futurist by The Futurist Institute.
Freda is an inspirational spokesperson for sustainability, an advocate for WASH (clean water and sanitation) for World Vision Malaysia, an ambassador for the Women of Global Change KL Chapter and Ocean Hero Conservation and a business mentor for the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.
Her career as a journalist has brought her far, interviewing prominent figures such as Simon Sinek, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank, Former Prime Minister of Finland Alexander Stubb, author Stephen Covey to the late former GE CEO Jack Welch. Some of Freda’s awards include the ASEAN Rice Bowl Awards for Malaysia Startup Journalist Of The Year and the Kanebo Exceptional Award for Voice and Outstanding Graduate by the Malaysian Australian Alumni Council.
We are all given a platform to make a change. I believe our words and actions no matter how small can have a ripple effect. Right now in the areas of sustainability, gender equality and quality education I believe are basic human rights that we can all help to chip in our own way.
Melissa Tan rose to stardom after appearing in Asia’s Next Top Model Cycle 3 and The Apartment. But Melissa harnesses her influence in mainstream and social media by promoting sustainable living and fashion, climate action and other areas of environmentalism. Her interest in sustainable living started earlier as she developed a habit of recycling as a little girl growing up in Kuala Lumpur.
Melissa wears multiple hats; as a TV host, actress, climate activist and zero waste advocate. She also devotes her time to speaking at events and organised community events such as The Conscious Market and clothes swaps to engage the public in sustainable living. Firm in her commitment as a climate activist, she champions grassroots efforts and impact-driven businesses and joins forces with major brands and organisations on local and regional campaigns.
Melissa is slowly transitioning into advocacy work through her role as the Country Coordinator for the Malaysia office of Fashion Revolution, the world’s largest fashion activism movement. Melissa has also been named as an ambassador for EARTHDAY.ORG. The trained Climate Reality Leader also serves on the committee of Free Tree Society, a local NGO that gives out free trees while advocating the importance of taking care of the environment.
I believe the effects of our actions reverberate through society, and it doesn’t matter how big or small that impact is. Continuous, collective action and initiative is an active protest against the injustice we see today and is what will change our world for the better.
Mahi Ramakrishnan is a migration specialist and runs a non-profit organisation, Beyond Borders Malaysia, which works to promote and protect the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons, who are fleeing internal conflicts and persecution in their home countries.
She has been working with the forced migration communities for 17 years now: connecting refugees and migrant workers with the Malaysian society through performing arts; creating platforms for them to speak up; creating awareness about forced migration through her investigative documentaries and lobbying the Malaysian government for comprehensive policies, including the right to work for refugees.
Working with women refugees who have experienced conflict, she creates opportunities for them to speak up about their experiences and the need for peace and reconciliation through the annual refugee festival, which Mahi founded seven years ago. She also uses this festival as a platform to connect refugee artists with the larger Malaysian society.
A multiple award-winning filmmaker and investigative journalist, Mahi explores issues such as trafficking, displacement, child sex trade, child brides, forced labour, hate speech and violent extremism through her documentaries.
Mahi is currently pursuing her MA in Refugee Protection And Forced Migration Studies at the University of London.
To me, making an impact is about empowering vulnerable, marginalised and disenfranchised communities to stand up and speak out about their rights, dreams and aspirations. My job is to continue to create platforms and opportunities for them to do so.
Suriani Kempe is an intersectional feminist activist. Throughout the years, she has been actively championing several causes in Malaysia related to gender and inclusion. Suriani heads Family Frontiers, an organisation fighting for equal citizenship rights for Malaysian women.
Currently, Family Frontiers is actively fighting back against the Court of Appeal’s decision which reversed the High Court’s ruling that allowed women to confer citizenship by operation of law.
Suriani is also the co-founder of Queer Lapis, a local NGO serving the LGBTQ+ community through an online site that presents queer views, voices and resources that promotes inclusivity and equality.
Previously, Suriani held the Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment portfolio at the United Nations Development Programme in Malaysia and worked on Parliamentary Affairs with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development in Malaysia.
Suriani’s effort to promote gender equality doesn’t stop with the Family Frontiers fight; she recently set up a feminist consulting firm, Kemban Kolektif.
For more info on Family Frontiers, click here.
To me, making an impact means seeing a proposed solution manifest into reality, and then positively affecting those who are the most vulnerable and in need of assistance both immediately and in a lasting way. All of us have the capacity to make an impact on those around us–one could make an impact in small and yet significant and meaningful ways, or advance change that will affect the lives of many–but it is up to us to decide whether that impact is going to be positive or negative.
Dr Abigail Rembui Anak Jerip is an obstetrician and gynaecologist by practice. Through her research and cases she addresses at Sarawak General Hospital, as a mother, she knows more needs to be done to reduce high cervical and breast cancer prevalence in Sarawak.
Dr Abigail Rembui founded Pink & Teal EmpowHer, a non-governmental charity organisation established to increase awareness and screen women in rural Sarawak for breast and cervical cancer. Offering a one-stop solution, Pink & Teal EmpowHer has been able to screen more than a thousand women which was said to be 10 times more than the KPI of health clinics since 2018.
The NGO is moving forward with the support of Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, soon, a one-stop solution bus providing health care services to rural women in Sarawak is set to operate. Dr Abigail has also collaborated with Unimas to carry out cervical and breast cancer screening in the rural areas of Sarawak.
It’s not so much of what it means to me, but what it means for the women we reach with our good work. Imagine being able to prevent cancer is a woman who otherwise never ever even thinks of getting a simple test. And it’s not a simple mathematical output of preventing one case of cancer in one woman in=one life but we prevent cancer in all the person’s this one woman is as a wife, mother, daughter and contributor to the workforce.
There were many opportunities when Loh Cheng Kooi, a graduate of the University of Nottingham, could work with multinational corporations. But for good reasons, she has devoted her time and effort to working with nonprofits.
Cheng Kooi joined the Women’s Centre for Change Penang (WCC) as an executive director in July 1997, a position she holds until today. Before her involvement in WCC, Cheng Kooi worked in several Asia Pacific nonprofits in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and her hometown Penang.
For the past 25 years, Cheng Kooi helmed the expansion at WCC in work areas of counselling services, community outreach and advocacy. Since the non-profit establishment in 1985, WCC has been recognised as a women’s and child’s rights organisation nationwide with the mission to end violence against women and children and promote gender equality. WCC also provides legal support for domestic violence and abuse cases. Before the pandemic, the organisation supported up to 70 court cases and the team counselled over 1,200 cases via face-to-face and tele-counselling sessions per year.
In order to ramp up the prevention of sexual violence amongst children and youth, WCC runs outreach activities and publishes guided materials for girls and boys. WCC is also part of the Joint Action for Gender Equality, a coalition of 14 women’s rights organisations in Malaysia lobbying for legal reforms and better policies for women and children.
Making an impact means empowering a woman or child so that she/he can make a better-informed decision to change in her/his life. When she/he is able to change her/his mindset and attitude, she/he can act to free herself/himself from gender violence and discrimination and actualise her/his potential.
Since a young age, Pang Khee Teik has been trying to find clarity on his sexuality. A realisation that brought him to express and embrace his individuality.
In 2008, he co-founded Seksualiti Merdeka while running an art space in Kuala Lumpur to allow expressions of the marginalised LGBTQ communities. Pang, was eventually arrested under the Sedition Act in 2016 during an arts and activism bazaar he organised – Arts For Grabs.
But, there is no stopping Pang, he co-founded QueerLapis.com, a website for and by LGBTQ communities in Malaysia. Since 2018, Pang is also the Programme Manager at Innovation for Change-East Asia. Pang wants to use event organising as a broader platform; combining arts and activism for the greater good.
I spent a major part of my youth hating myself for being gay, feeling constantly unloveable and lonely. When I finally decided to be happy being gay — around age 26 — I started telling my story everywhere I could. My hope is that I could show it is possible to be gay and Malaysian so that others would know we are not alone and that our stories can shine a rainbow for each other.
A talk by Zainah Anwar, a women’s rights activist ignited a spark in young Yu Ren Chung who at that time was an engineering student in the United States. The flicker turned into a stronger flame and Ren Chung engaged in activism instead of becoming a full-fledged engineer.
His involvement in the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) has transformed the landscape of women’s rights and gender equality. Ren Chung believes the involvement of men is crucial for fairness, as overall men enjoy unfair privileges from their gender, and additionally some men may still unfortunately respond better to other men.
As a Deputy Executive Director with the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), his work has been mainly on advocacy and policy-making. Ren Chung has led and co-led initiatives with larger civil society movements, resulting in policy reforms.
With over a decade of experience in women’s rights, Ren Chung has overseen policy reforms relating to domestic violence and gender equality, including amendments to the Domestic Violence Act, increased public funding for gender-based violence response services, the establishment of the National Domestic Violence Committee, creation of paternity leave and tabling of anti-stalking laws.
Ren Chung who has completed a Master of Public Policy at the University of Oxford has worked on initiatives resulting in the passing of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act, and improved implementation of gender-responsive budgeting in the national budget process.
For more info on the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), click here.
Being part of a larger movement to close inequalities, seek justice, and ultimately improve lives.
Glorene Amala Das is the executive director at Tenaganita. Established in 1991, Tenaganita is a human rights and non-profit organisation dedicated to helping, building and protecting migrants, refugees, women and children from exploitation, discrimination, slavery and human trafficking.
Glorene has a background in Liberal Studies, Human Rights and Social Science. With 10 years of corporate experience, Glorene joined Tenaganita in 1999 as a program officer at the Migrant Rights Desk. Ever since, she’s been an advocate for human rights, migration, gender and human trafficking issues.
Her years at Tenaganita have revolved around such issues, as she tries to make an impact for those without a voice. Her career advancements at Tenaganita have seen Glorene helping the marginalised in different ways. In 2010, she became the program director and one of the board directors of the organisation. She was responsible for the conceptualization and implementation of the programs in Tenaganita.
Glorene has worked on a variety of platforms to represent migrants, refugees, women and children at national, regional and international levels. Since March of 2014, Glorene has been appointed as Tenaganita’s executive director, replacing the organisation’s late founder Dr Irene Fernandez.
Tenaganita has sheltered over 300 trafficked women and children survivors and provided legal aid and healthcare for refugees. This is just a snippet of the impact that Glorene has been a part of. She aims to lead Tenaganita with a vision for a just, free and democratic society where all are equal human beings with dignity and rights
For more info on Tenaganita, click here.
Making an impact simply means creating spaces for communities who are vulnerable and at margin collectively, so they are able to reach their full potential in all ways possible.
More than 20 years ago, Anja Juliah Abu Bakar was a college dropout who was always on the lookout for innovative business ideas. The start of Athena Holdings was also based on her interest in staying ahead of the market. In 2006, while going through online forums, she stumbled upon a thread by an American housewife.
The trailblazing idea struck her and Anja was off researching and learning more about washable sanitary pads for the next nine months. With reviews from her friends and families, Anja continued improving her novel product before commercialising it in the market.
But in 2015, Athena Empower’s goal was renewed from just being sustainable sanitary pads in the market. Anja was approached to sponsor struggling girls, a proposition that took her to Sabah and opened a new horizon for Anja.
Together with her friends, Hasnur Hanafiah and Fazlina Ahmad Fuad (business development director), spreading awareness to marginalised girls on feminine health. Athena Empowers distributed more than 2,700 sanitary pads to almost 1500 women in Malaysia since 2015. On top of that, Athena Holdings are actively involved in providing feminine health awareness workshops to the affected girls.
For her work in minimising period poverty amongst the marginalised, Anja was listed as Malaysia’s Top 10 Female Social Entrepreneurs in 2016, awarded the Outstanding ASEAN Women Entrepreneur in Hanoi, a recipient of STAR Malaysia Golden Heart Awards in 2017 and was invited to the White House in Washington DC in 2019 for her work in women economics empowerment by Ivanka Trump, Advisor to the former President of the United State of America.
Anja is always onto the next big thing to contribute to the community and has set up Sisterhood Alliance, an organisation seeking to empower women and girls.
For more info on Athena Empowers, click here.
Making an impact means I have empowered myself to empower others.
One of her fondest memories is when she participated in a fancy dress competition as a ballerina wearing a black dress and a wig. It was at that moment, that she realised that was the real Nisha Ayub. But her small happiness of realising her sexuality came at a cost, especially in a country where the stigma is pervasive against LGBTQ+.
Nisha was imprisoned for 3 months, under the Sharia law that governs Malaysia punishing a male person who dresses or behaves like a woman and appears in public that way.
But her brush with the law only spurred her to speak out against Malaysia’s discriminatory law and hostility towards the transgender community. Nisha established Seed Foundation and Justice for Sisters (JFS). The two organisations are the first that encourages and fights for the rights of transgender individuals residing in Malaysia.
With 16 years of experience under her belt. Nisha has received multiple awards over the years both from international and regional entities. She was awarded the Human Rights Watch‘s Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism and the Asia LGBT Milestone Awards Alma in Bangkok in 2015.
In 2016, Nisha became the first openly transgender woman to receive the International Women of Courage Award and San Diego declared April 5th as Nisha Ayub Day.
In 2019, she was the only Malaysian listed on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 100 Women of 2019 and one of the 25 Amazing Women by Marie Claire.
Making an impact is when I’m able to see more people brave enough to come forward to speak up for their rights towards the betterment of the community within the society at large.
Nurfarini Daing has always been committed to harnessing youths in marginalised communities through volunteering in her free time. During her work stint at MDEC, Nurfarini observed that the majority of youth have brilliant ideas that could help solve urgent social issues but they are faced with insufficient funding.
Understanding this gap, in 2010, Nurfarini and her colleagues founded a non-profit foundation serving youths with social impact initiatives known as myHarapan or Youth Trust Foundation.
Through my Harapan, 85,000 youth were reached with 26 social initiatives and were given the necessary funding and support to grow further as of 2021. One of the accomplishments achieved by myHarapan and Nurfarini is the establishment of the first sports social business – Discover Muay Thai.
The social enterprise started as an internal programme of myHarapan and ran by three myHarapan employees. The venture has grown and now has a total of three gyms running, accommodating youth at risk and providing underserved communities with job opportunities as a trainer. With over 23 years of start-up experience, Nurfarini continues to devote her time and effort to developing independent and wholesome youth through myHarapan.
For more info on myHarapan, click here.
Impact to me is making significant and positive changes in the lives of young people so they can gain the courage to lead a life that is kind, and creates a meaningful difference in the lives of others and the planet.
As a student at Princeton University, Jason Wee was part of the United World College Short Course in 2018. The course brought 31 students from all over the country for a week and insinuated discussions on identity, discrimination and conflict. Jason was astounded by the close friendships and understanding between participants of different backgrounds in the course.
After graduating from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs specialising in Race, Ethnicity and Discrimination, Jason and his two colleagues were on full-force growing Architects of Diversity (AOD).
AOD is a non-profit that advocates for a more equitable Malaysia and seeks to bridge communities for justice, peace and a sustainable future.
Since 2018, AOD has partnered with various local and international organisations, including the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, to design and execute opportunities for intergroup contact. Additionally, AOD spearheads diversity, equity and inclusion education and anti-discrimination advocacy. AOD has empowered over 500 youths through various workshops and camps to become agents that would advocate for more tolerance in society.
AOD remains a pioneer in diversity, equity and inclusion education in Malaysia through producing teaching materials and empowering educators to champion prejudices. One of the notable events for Jason was a camp run with Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia and Dong Zong, bringing students from different education streams together.
Jason has led various programmes and research projects on racial and religious misunderstanding, prejudice and conflict, focusing on strengthening structures and systems to mend Malaysia’s growing divide.
For more info on Architects of Diversity (AOD), click here.
In AOD’s work, we plant the seeds of change by empowering and investing in youth and individuals that are placed in various positions of power to challenge inequities and advance ideas for greater inclusion. To me, the impact is about breaking social cycles that manufacture prejudice and fundamentally distributing power to a diversity of people.
Ever since she was a student, law graduate Raudhah Nazran has been an advocate for youth unemployment. In 2018, she spoke on the issue in the UK parliament and claimed the International Student of the Year Award. After setting foot back in her homeland, Raudhah founded Accelerate Global in 2019, a youth-led social enterprise aimed at reducing youth unemployment.
Together with her team, Raudhah conducts upskilling programs to equip the youth with the hands-on skills needed to create their own enterprises and thus, be able to stand on their own two feet. Her classes do not only shed light on the technical aspects of being an entrepreneur, but they also highlight the importance of confidence, emotional resilience and grit. To cultivate a responsible generation of leaders, Raudhah emphasizes social and environmental aspects in her programs to ensure that ethical concerns and externalities are given their rightful weightage.
When her social enterprise was selected as one of the top 3 in the UK, Raudhah was called to the UK Parliament by Lord Michael Hastings to speak on the issue of youth unemployment. She has also spoken on children’s rights to education during a United Nations Humans Rights Conference. A staunch advocate for self-development, Raudhah often reminds the youth to not let fear of failure become a deterrence to achieving one’s dreams. To date, the organisation has impacted over 7,000 youths through its programs and entrepreneurship boot camps.
Raudhah was also recognised by Tatler Asia as Gen T’s Honouree, Top 400 Asian Young Leaders (2020) and was shortlisted for the Women of The Future Southeast Asia Awards 2021. Just recently, Raudhah was listed on Forbes 30 Under 30 (2022) list for her social impact efforts.
Making an impact to me means unleashing the best in humanity. I believe we are all created to empower one another and to be there for each other. Impact is not just about big lofty ideas, it is about touching people’s lives meaningfully and sincerely.
Dr Wong Ee Phin has been involved in Malaysia’s wildlife conservation field for almost two decades. As the Principal Investigator of Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME), she is currently working with plantations and partners on the ground to manage human-elephant conflict via a landscape approach and to promote coexistence with wild elephants. MEME is a research project focusing on science-based research to support evidence-based decisions on managing and conserving wild elephants in Peninsular Malaysia.
Ee Phin works in areas of biodiversity conservation, wildlife behaviour, and engages closely with stakeholders affected by Human-Elephant Conflict. She enjoys exploring new techniques for non-invasive monitoring of wild elephant populations and the usage of technology for elephant research. Another area of research interest in MEME is to study the impact of linear transportation infrastructures on elephant movement within Peninsular Malaysia. Ee Phin believes that working together with traditional and non-traditional conservation stakeholders is key to saving wild elephants in Malaysia.
She has a background rooted in science – a Bachelor of Science, a Master of Applied Science in Wildlife Biology and Management, and a PhD on non-invasive monitoring of stress among Asian elephants. She is the Deputy Chair of the IUCN SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group and an active member of the IUCN Asian Elephant Transport Working Group and the IUCN Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence Specialist Group.
Impact for me covers both positive outcomes for the people and the environment. I want to support my stakeholders in a tangible and meaningful way, and at the same time help conserve wild elephants – that is the goal that I am aiming for. It is not easy to balance both as there are often clashes in interest. That is why it is important for us to work past the differences and find common goals to align our approaches. It is possible to create a win-win situation for the parties involved. At the end of the day, we all want a safe and beautiful future for our loved ones, not a dying world full of disasters. That is why we need to put aside working in a silo, and work together.
Christine Chin first stepped into Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Selangor intending to make a difference before her 30th birthday in 1990. After her volunteering experience, Christine was determined to assist SPCA Selangor in any way possible, be it through in-kind donations or spending her hours volunteering.
Her determination saw her being elected as the Chairman of SPCA Selangor in 2004. A role she has held for more than 18 years. The change was imminent once she took the position, one of her first adjustments included enhancing the facilities at SPCA. Another was the establishment of Klinik Kembiri, the first permanent and designated spay clinic in Asia. Over 100,000 animals have been neutered in the first ten years of the clinic’s operation. Through SPCA Selangor, 2,650 animals were adopted.
Her milestones as an SPCA chairman include a transformation on a large scale through SPCA’s push for an Animal Welfare Act 2015 in Malaysia. The former successful stockbroker is setting her eyes on a bigger prize, promoting humane education on responsible pet ownership and for more Malaysians to implement a cruelty-free lifestyle.
Christine was listed on Prestige’s Women Of Power 2022.
For more info on the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Selangor, click here.
Prof Dr Chan Eng Heng, Malaysia’s “Turtle Lady;” UNEP’s Global 500 Laureate; recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sea Turtle Society and listed in UNEP’s Who’s Who of Women and the Environment, has dedicated almost her entire working life to the conservation of turtles.
She co-founded the Sea Turtle Research Unit (SEATRU) in UPM in 1985 to bring focus to her research on leatherback turtles. Her findings have provided the basis for intensified conservation measures undertaken at the state level, with this work also earning her a PhD from Kagoshima University.
In 1993, Chan initiated the first Malaysian in-situ egg protection programme for green and hawksbill turtles on Redang Island. This effort which was sustained and intensified till her retirement in 2009 resulted in half a million turtle eggs saved from human consumption for incubation, with 400,000 hatchlings making their way to the ocean. This would later prove to be her most impactful contribution as the nesting population in Redang has now recovered, with numbers doubling those of the early years.
Chan had to raise funds to buy turtle eggs from licensed egg collectors for incubation. She did this by involving the public through turtle volunteer programmes, along with nest and turtle adoption schemes. These innovative measures not only raised much-needed funds but brought turtle awareness to the hearts and minds of the general public. Her pioneering turtle volunteer programme, where volunteers pay to spend a week on the nesting beach to help in the hands-on work, is now being replicated by other organisations on other nesting beaches.
She also lobbied tirelessly for major nesting beaches in Redang to be converted to sanctuaries, and her efforts came to fruition in 2005 when Terengganu set aside three beaches for this purpose.
A firm believer in educating young children, she conducted annual turtle camps for children living on Redang Island and wrote two books in order to educate them on turtle conservation.
As an academic staff in the university, she did extensive research on turtles and published her findings in peer-reviewed journals, paving the way for her promotion to a professorship. Some of the post-graduate students she has supervised now hold key turtle conservation positions.
Her work on turtles did not end when she retired from the university. In 2011, she co-founded the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia to also cover non-marine species, and the Society’s core project now involves the critically endangered river terrapins of the Kemaman River.
In her retirement, Chan used art to further create awareness by working with volunteers to create Turtle Alley in Kuala Terengganu’s Chinatown – an alley now adorned with over 60 turtle mosaics on its walls and path to serve as an inspiration for current and future turtle conservationists.
For more info on the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCS), click here.
Dr (Hon) Wong Siew Te, D.J.N. is a Malaysian wildlife biologist and tropical forest ecologist. He doesn’t recall a day in his life when animals were a second priority. His love for animals was instilled at a young age and it became his passion to protect wildlife no matter the cost. Like many young children, this love for animals shaped his ambition of becoming a wildlife expert and protector.
He completed a Diploma in Veterinary and Animal Science from the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Pingtung, Taiwan, and a B. Sc., M. Sc., and doctorate majoring in Wildlife Biology at the University of Montana, Montana, USA. While he was a student, Dr Wong assisted in an ecological study on sun bears. He learned about the history of sun bears, the threats they faced and the dwindling numbers left.
In 2008, he founded the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sabah and is the CEO today. Committed to the cause, Dr Wong actively engages in conservation activities and sun bear research. As a result of his focused work about and for sun bears, Dr Wong has been locally and globally recognised. He was featured in the book Wildlife Heroes in 2012; conferred “Member-Order of the Defender of State” (Darjah Johan Negeri, D.J.N) by the governor of Penang State, Malaysia in 2014; awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Sunshine Coast, Australia, in 2016; bestowed the title “My Country Hero” or “Wira Negaraku” by the Government of Malaysia, and “CNN Hero” in 2017. He was also featured as an Everyday Hero” in the March and April issues of Readers’ Digest in 2019.
As a wildlife biologist and a tropical forest ecologist, impact to me is the number of sun bears I can help and save in the world, how many people I can educate so that they are aware of the environmental and wildlife crisis; and how many forests I can protect from the destruction from humans.
From a conservation officer to its president, Chun Xing Wong has been with 1StopBorneo Wildlife since 2016. 1StopBorneo Wildlife was founded in 2012 with the aim to conserve Malaysia’s rainforests by specialising in the 4Es- Education, Enforcement, Enrichment of Habitat, and Economy.
Chun Xing grew up in Sabah where nature played a heavy influence, shaping him into the person he is today. He majored in Biogeography and credits his university lessons for his deepened appreciation of nature. Curious and eager to do more for wildlife, he began working at 1StopBorneo Wildlife. Throughout his time at 1StopBorneo Wildlife, Chun Xing has been involved in several wildlife conservation projects in project sites across Borneo – wildlife corridor reforestation projects, wildlife surveys, local wildlife educational programs, sustainable conservation tourism development and wildlife awareness campaigns.
To heighten the awareness about wildlife, 1StopBorneo Wildlife also organises movie nights to showcase nature documentaries. There’s also a monthly nature book club and they even organise school workshops which place an emphasis on interactive activities. It is without a doubt that 1StopBorneo Wildlife is committed to its cause of teaching us all how we can love and appreciate the wonders of wildlife and nature.
You may not get much money or recognition from helping wildlife and the environment. However, society will one day feel the benefits from the nature you have saved. And that to me is the true IMPACT!
Since 2020, animal lover Amy Wong has been the social media manager for My Forever Doggo (MFD). She holds a Degree in Economics having graduated from UNIMAS, Sarawak. MFD is a shelter-neutral and free service platform, operating to help dogs find forever homes. MFD was conceptualised after discovering shelters and independent rescuers suffered both from low adoption rates and the resources needed for adoption.
MFD photographs the cute furry friends and proceeds to post their pictures on social media, where those interested to adopt are connected with respective shelters. As social media is MFD’s number one used platform to get the word out, Amy carries the responsibility of ensuring their social media is at its best. What started out as an internship turned into a full-time career for Amy. Her love for dogs ignites the passion for her work. MFD has helped numerous stray dogs find forever homes and also makes it a point to check up on all successful adoptions.
For more info on My Forever Doggo, click here.
Making an impact simply means making a positive change in something, or someone’s life, for a better future. To me, it means consciously advocating for kindness and love towards our homeless dogs with like-minded individuals as we strive to create a safe space while encouraging others to learn to live harmoniously with the dogs, or any other animals for that matter. It also means that by the end of any of our (like-minded individuals and I) lives here, we know we have done our best and have left the dogs in a much kinder world than the one we came into.
Dr Adam Lim Chee Ooi is the Chairperson of Save Our Seahorses (SOS) Malaysia. SOS Malaysia was established in 2005, as a non-government organisation (NGO) working to conserve seahorses and other vital marine habitats. Aside from conservation, SOS contributes towards other areas such as research, awareness, information dissemination and collaboration.
In 2017, Dr Adam completed his Doctoral studies at Universiti Malaya (UM) and studied syngnathid fishes extensively in Malaysian waters, focusing on various aspects of their biology and ecology, which provides a basis for their conservation. Since its launch, Dr Adam has overseen several volunteer programs.
In 2020, a “Trace Our Seahorses” programme was launched to study why seahorses were being harvested for use in Peninsular Malaysia. Aside from his involvement with SOS, Dr Adam is currently attached with the Regional Focal Point for Southeast Asia under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) Seahorse, Pipefish & Seadragon Specialist Group.
Additionally, he is also a Business Director with RISE Advisory, a business partner of Manulife Insurance Berhad, applying his expertise in advocating the importance of the Critical Illness Fund (CIF) to Malaysians from all walks of life. He recently published a children’s storybook, A Seahorse Story, continuing his quest to merge science, storytelling, and environmental advocacy.
Making an impact to me means making a marked difference(s) that can be scaled through our actions. Though it may be small, it is able to make progress towards a solution and, in doing so, influence others to do the same.
Andy Koh Chun Hoh has been harnessing technology to promote change. One such example is a pet adoption platform initiated after rescuing a pup, Chanelle, in 2008. At that time, with no social media to help, he relied on newspaper classifieds to put up pet adoption. A month after Chanelle was adopted, Andy built the site by taking pictures of dogs in shelters and putting up profiles on PetFinder.my. The site continues to grow as a platform that gathers pet-loving communities to help thousands of animals.
Since 2008, PetFinder.my has found new families for over 61,000 stray animals, with 22,000 pets available for adoption. His continued love and compassion for doing his part for the environment landed him to create KindMeal.my in 2014. KindMeal.my is a site that collaborates with restaurants to encourage a meat-free lifestyle, saving farm animals, the environment, health and money.
But his journey to better animal welfare and wildlife conservation doesn’t end there, Andy is continuously embarking on and crafting innovations to assist global non-profit organisations.
I consider impact from both quantitative and qualitative aspects — how many human and animal lives directly benefit from our platforms; and more importantly, how much happiness, compassion and altruism we can help nurture within the society, which are fundamental ingredients for peace and harmony.
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