MK Curtain Group managing director Datuk Calvin Khiu Fu Siang’s approach to corporate social responsibility (CSR) is inspired by his grandmother.
Life, she told him, was not all about making money.
“She said it was fine to make money, so long as it wasn’t achieved by cheating or stealing.
“But one thing she said, that I remember clearly, was that it is not about how much money we make, but about how much we contribute to society that matters,” he says.
And now that he has achieved success as an entrepreneur, his grandmother’s words of wisdom have guided Khiu to make a positive contribution to the various communities surrounding his business.
Khiu knows that money is not everything. So when MK Curtain carries out its CSR efforts, they do not just write out big cheques for charity homes.
Instead, Khiu sends his staff to interview people in old folks’ homes and orphanages to understand what they need.
“We start with beautifying their environment with our curtains. This is followed by our pillow cases and blankets. But we also realise that we have to do more,” he says.
After providing homes with their own products, MK Curtain takes it a step further to provide the homes with things that they need such as mattresses, clothes and electrical items like a television.
“There are children who, instead of toys, requested for books and we are happy to give them what they want,” he adds.
MK Curtain also provides schools with curtains as some of them do not have the budget to buy curtains.
Since 2010, the company has made it a point to contribute their resources to make the life of old folks, orphans and students better in their own little way.
Sometimes, it is not just about getting the things you need, says Khiu, but rather about knowing that you are cared for.
Khiu understands what it is like to be in need. He was born into a poor, single-parent family. However, the 36-year-old received a lot of motivation and love from his grandmother.
“I was poor but happy. My grandmother gave me everything that I needed. I remember I would get to eat chicken rice for lunch while she would eat plain rice, and during Chinese New Year, I would have new clothes to wear whereas she continues to wear old clothes,” he says.
Khiu says that gave him the motivation he needed to be number one in the school of life even though he never came out on top for anything during his schooling days.
The curtain manufacturer was the Platinum winner in the Best in CSR category at last year’s Star Outstanding Business Awards.
Khiu also believes in empowering the youths of today to become entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship has given Khiu a leap out of his challenging circumstances and he hopes to inspire between 2,000 and 3,000 youths a year with his sharing about the importance of starting small.
Khiu was aware of his limitations when he first started work.
“I didn’t receive much of a formal education, so I considered a few options such as automobile or air-conditioning system repair. I even thought about running my own char kuey teow stall,” he says.
Instead of trying to follow what others were doing, he worked within his means. After his secondary school, he did peddling jobs, worked at night markets and delivered gas tanks from door to door.
Eventually, he found that he had a skill – talking.
“That’s when I decided to venture into sales. And I thought to myself, whichever industry was looking to hire for sales, I’d do it,” he remembers.
When the opportunity to join a textile company came knocking, he took it.
And when the opportunity came for him to start his own company, he did not shy away.
“When I had no capital, I selected Nilai for two reasons. One was because it provided me with free rental for seven months and secondly, for the location,” he says.
And that has put MK Curtain on a steady growth path. The company, which started with two workers and zero capital, has grown to 300 workers today and RM40mil in sales for 2016.
An optimist, Khiu says it is important to strive to achieve your dreams within your limitations as it was pointless to dwell on the more unfortunate circumstances of your life.
“I believe God is fair, since everyone is granted the same 24 hours every day to design their own destiny. You’ll never achieve anything if you continue to blame fate,” he says.
He hopes to impress upon the younger generation the values and philosophy which he has learned from being an entrepreneur.