Seed money for social innovators

The ones with the best ideas: The 12 finalists and their teammates posing for a photo with Rozario (standing, seventh from left) and Eddie (ninth from left) at the award presentation in Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort.

TWELVE finalists with innovative ideas to help transform the lives of disadvantaged communities have been selected for the Berbudi Berganda — Social Impact Innovative Challenge.

The challenge, which was launched in October last year by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mah Siew Keong, seeks new ideas on homelessness, youth unemployment and caring for the elderly.

Prior to the challenge, the National Innovation Agency Malaysia (AIM) had conducted three rounds of focus group discussions with more than 45 NGOs and social enterprises.

“We discovered that though many NGOs were doing incredible work, many could not sustain their operations due to the lack of funding and skilled staff,” said AIM executive vice-president for social innovation Eddie Razak.

“The absence of a structure and framework also affected their credibility in the eyes of funding institutions,” he said.

In December, after going through 300 ideas, AIM chose 25 of the best ideas which were presented to a panel of judges.

A total of 12 were selected as finalists because they were innovative, original, sustainable, cost effective and replicable.

The finalists are Ahamad Emran Anwarudin (Be the Change Resources), Low Ngai Yuen (WOMENgirls, Pertubuhan Pembangunan Kendiri Wanita dan Gadis), Datuk Anusha Santhirasthipam (Soroptimist International Club of Petaling Jaya), Mahalingam Chelliah (Pertubuhan Prihatin Social Malaysia),Katy Lee (Persatuan Kebajikan HOPE Worldwide), Sue Seau Yeen (Kiddies Joy Centre), Dick Lim Yew Teck (Foodabox Enterprise), Chan Teck Keng (L.H Learning Group Sdn Bhd), Jamaluddin Wahab, Abbie Hosanna Anak Ruang, Mohd Effuan Aswadi and Mastura M. Rashid.

Each finalist was given seed money of RM25,000 to test their ideas over a four-month period.

Mastura M. Rasid has been involved with the Nasi Lemak Project which feeds the homeless,

“We have a database of 200 people and we deliver food three times a week to selected areas,” she said.

Mastura now wants to use the funding given to provide employment and shelter for the homeless.

“I plan to convert five budget hotel rooms into dormitory-style accommodation where the homeless will be provided free shelter in exchange for working with The Nasi Lemak Project. They will be able to gain new skills and will also be given allowances,” she said, adding that she planned to get 16 homeless off the streets in two months.

The problem of securing good jobs in Padawan, Kuching led Abbie Hosanna to mobilise local unemployed youths to become eco-tourist guides.

“Padawan is an untapped location and who better to guide tourists than those from the kampung,” she said.

Abbie said she hoped to recruit 25 youths for her “backyard tour guide” project and would seek the help of homestays to market the eco-tours.

The 12 finalists were presented with certificates of achievement by AIM chief executive officer Mark Rozario at a ceremony at Dewan Perdana, Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort.

They will receive professional guidance and support from established social impact consultant, Shujog.

At the end of the four-month period, the finalist with the best outcome will win a grant of RM30,000 sponsored by Credit Suisse, to further expand their ideas.

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