PUTRAJAYA: It all started with a simple bookshelf-building project 10 years ago by three college mates.
They scoured the alleyways and dump sites around Chow Kit and collected wooden pallets and other waste materials to build their furniture.
Today, Rashvin Pal Singh, Azam Hisham and Gurpreet Dhillon’s vision has turned into a profit-making social enterprise called Biji-Biji Initiative, which promotes sustainable living by reusing waste and craftsmanship.
Within two years, Biji-Biji Initiative has since grown and sold enough furniture and crafts to fund its business and has passed down its knowledge to nearly 1,000 youths at its workshops.
“None of us had experience or the skills when we had this idea. But we were determined to do something meaningful,” said Rashvin, 28.
The group has created tables, chairs, shelves, bags and more using discarded items such as pallets, diesel drums, bamboo and even used seat belts.
“You can easily find waste materials. They are cheap. But we ensure quality through good craftsmanship. My advice is action is power. If you have an idea, get a team and just do it,” he said.
Biji-Biji Initiative has been selected as “mentors” under the newly-revamped Rakan Muda programme and its work is showcased at the annual Putrajaya Youth Festival 2015, which ends today.
Other Rakan Muda mentors featured at the three-day festival include traditional dancer January Low, skateboarder Joe Ipoh, sape player Alena Murang and house builders Epic Homes.
“Under the previous Rakan Muda programme, everything is set up by the government and youths will just attend.
“Our new concept encourages youths with talents, be it in arts, crafts or sports, to come to us with their ideas. We can help fund them but they must also demonstrate how their projects can change the society for the better,” said Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, after launching the new Rakan Muda website.
Khairy said about RM10mil had been set aside as funding and successful applicants could get about RM5,000, depending on the size of their project, for youths aged between 15 and 30.
The Putrajaya Youth Festival is an annual event and is organised in conjunction with the Youth Day celebrations.