Learning in Malaysia

Colleen Fakalogotoa reports back from her business trip to Kuala Lumpar

I and my chairperson Roine were blessed to go to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in November to visit the Peoples Systems Consultancy (PSC) and its key Director Raymond Gabriel. Raymond developed the programme called Empowering Entrepreneurs, designed to eradicate poverty through starting a micro-business. This programme is run in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, very successfully.

Malaysia doesn’t have the welfare benefits that New Zealand has, and people have to find a way to earn income for their family. Raymond and his amazing team of young people work with ordinary people trying to start micro-businesses or who want to increase the scale of their micro-business. Raymond and PSC have collected the stories of thousands of individuals including those who are disabled, to prove the increase in their income. Truly inspiring.

When speaking to Raymond, not surprisingly a man of passion and drive, he is very clear that the purpose is to make an impact in people’s lives, otherwise it is a waste of time.  Being able to reduce stress, stand proud, and have a better standard of living is the impact that passes onto their immediate family and into their communities.

So who pays for this? Raymond approaches large corporates, banks and government departments and tailor makes a programme where the donor will receive some benefit, particularly in the same geography where the donor runs their business, or to their target population. Then asks bank/corporates to pay for that programme, their logo and brand will be printed on the materials, on the final report, and the goodwill is noted by the community. The corporate/bank/government department will have full bragging rights to the difference that is made in that community.

It is a model that I’ve wondered might work in New Zealand, in Manukau in particular. We work with families who struggle, who want the best for children, and it is so hard. Maybe we could experience that impact in our own communities, maybe it could lift the living standards for our children too. When jobs are scarce, we can create our own job. It takes passion, some skill and some know how.

I met Raymond’s team, a really diverse lot, Malay, Indian and Chinese, and also the participants old and young. We had such a great time. Roine and I sang them a waiata Pokare kare ana and they really loved it. We arrived in time for the durian fruit festival but durian is an acquired taste. Roine loved it, while I could only taste blue cheese, onions and garlic! Urgh.

We were so impressed with the calibre of the team, their passion and lovely way with people. We will take small steps to see how well we could do to provide the programme in association with PSC starting with a pilot. We are at the stage of seeking funding for the pilot, which will require someone to go to Malaysia to train. So watch this space.

Raymond writes books and a notable one is The Money Quotient, written for children.