Saturday November 6, 2010
Push needed for social entrepreneurship
By EUGENE MAHALINGAM
The Star will be featuring a series of articles in conjunction with the StarBiz-ICRM Corporate Responsibility Awards. The awards is the result of a partnership between The Star and Institute of Corporate Responsibility Malaysia, supported by the Securities Commission and Bursa Malaysia Bhd. Its working partners are PricewaterhouseCoopers and Securities Industry Development Corp, while the official sponsor is Canon Marketing (M) Sdn Bhd.
PETALING JAYA: Just like how entrepreneurs are changing the face of business, social entrepreneurs are similarly becoming the agents of change for society.
However, the concept of social entrepreneurship is still new in Malaysia, and needs a bit of a “push” to become widespread.
Young Corporate Malaysians (YCM) co-founder Chris Tock says the biggest stumbling block for social entrepreneurship is the lack of support.
“I believe social entrepreneurship could be bigger in Malaysia, purely because we (Malaysians) care about each other more than other countries would, despite what people may say.
“The thing is that we have very little support, and most initiatives are not backed by established policies,” he told StarBizWeek.
According to ashoka.org, social entrepreneurs are defined as individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are considered ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change.
Tock said a network of social entrepreneurs should be created to support such activities.
By having such a network, there would be more people to push for such worthy causes, he said.
“This way, the effect can be amplified and its reach goes far and wide into different communities with different needs.”
YCM is a group of young professionals that organise corporate development programmes specifically targeting people of age 21-35 in order to develop their soft skills.
The organisation holds free monthly talks by reputable chief executive officers (CEO), who share information on their personal life and corporate experiences.
Tock said the monthly CEO events were aimed at helping young entrepreneurs hone their skills at an early start so that they could move on to bigger challenges.
YCM also “develops” from within. According to Tock, organisers, or “conveners” of its events were replaced on a regular basis by younger, fresh social entrepreneurs.
“Our motto is that we should move on when we’re around 30 years old and YCM should be able to run without its founding members. It’s a challenge because we all have full-time jobs too!”
Dzameer Dzulkifli and Keeran Sivarajah, co-founders of a local not-for-profit organisation, work with individuals from both the public and private sectors to establish a social enterprise that focuses on expanding educational opportunities for disadvantaged communities in Malaysia.
“We’re working with individuals and corporations to initiate a leadership development programme in Malaysia for graduates and young professionals.
“We aspire to create a different class of leaders through this programme that would be able solve one of our nation’s greatest challenges – that where a child is born today, determines his or her education and hence life outcomes,” said Dzameer.
Keeran said social entrepreneurship had helped them to tackle that issue. “Many of us have this urge to make a difference in the lives of others, this limitless capacity for abundance and kindness. Social entrepreneurship enables us to dedicate ourselves, our ideals, skills and intelligence toward directly addressing some of the most urgent issues affecting our world,” he said.
Social entrepreneurship was something that was gaining momentum and that communities around the world were “self-organising” to directly address issues that affected them, Keeran said, adding: “Perhaps the best thing that can be done in Malaysia is to reinvigorate this sense of possibility that change can happen – pessimism never won any battles!
“Societies at large – parents, teachers, corporations – need to immerse themselves in this sense of possibility and optimism in our pursuit for betterment and encourage themselves and others to act.”
>Submissions for the StarBiz-ICRM Corporate Responsibility Awards 2010 is now closed. For more information please visit http://www.thestar.com.my/starbizicrm/