A Look Back At Some Of Our Favourite Stories And Moments Of 2020

By Lee Williamson

If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that it's important to be grateful for what you have. Gen.T editor Lee Williamson takes a look back at some of our favourite wins over the last year

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This won't come as an earth-shattering shock to anyone, but it's been a challenging year. In the malaise of 2020, it can be all too easy to live in a constant trance, playing the waiting game until all this is over and we can walk confidently into our inoculated future. But we all know that's at least a few months away.

Meaning it's still up to us to remain positive and resilient in this toughest of times. In that vein, I've spent some time taking a look back at 2020 and some of the great work done under the most difficult of circumstances by the editorial team and the wider team at Gen.T over the past year. 

Here are some of my standout stories and moments that have offered glimmers of positivity and hope in an otherwise dark cloud of a year. 

1. We built a library

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Above  A child reading in the Gen.T library, which is located in Trapaing Kroleung Primary School in Cambodia's Kampong Speu province

In Pictures: Gen.T Built A Library In Cambodia With Room To Read

We built a library! Since 2018, Gen.T has has a strategic partnership with global literacy charity Room to Read. As part of the collaboration, we raised US$35,000 to build a Gen.T Library in Cambodia, which we launched in April 2020. 

The money raised covered the cost of everything needed to establish and run a library, including filling it with 1,705 local-language books and 144 English books; training courses with teaching staff and librarians on how to build students’ literacy skills; and the cost of running it for a period of three to four years, until it is self-sustaining. We established the partnership with Room to Read because we subscribe to the charity’s driving force: “World change starts with educated children.”

At the very beginning of this year we also built a home for an indigenous family in rural Malaysia with our partner Epic Homes, founded by Gen.T honouree John-Son Oei. Having raised the money the previous year, the house was built over a weekend by members of the wider Gen.T community. 

See all our Connect to Change events. 

2. We experimented with fun formats to tell stories

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Above  Fave founder and Gen.T honouree Joel Neoh

Playlist: 10 Songs Tech Entrepreneur Joel Neoh Uses To Unwind After Work

For so many of us, 2020 was a year to try new things—whether voluntarily or through necessity. At Gen.T, we experimented with some fun media formats this year in an effort to offer some light relief during lockdowns.

The Gen.T Playlists we've been making throughout the year with people in our community are some of my favourites. I still listen to these "Post-Work Tunes" from Fave founder Joel Neoh at the end of a long day!


3. We hosted dozens of virtual events

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Above  The Gen.T team behind the scenes at the virtual list launch events

See Behind The Scenes At Our Virtual List Launch Events

The coronavirus meant we had to cancel the Gen.T Summit earlier this year, but like so many in the events world, we pivoted to virtual, hosting 25 virtual events in 2020, including editions of our webinar series Cloud Talk, our conference Gen.T Stream and list launch events. Key learning: no one looks good on Zoom. 


4. We upped our video game

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Above  Shopline founder and Gen.T honouree Fiona Lau

Samsung Innovators: How Fiona Lau Is Shaping The Future Of Retail

We produced some fantastic video content this year. Some of my favourites have to be the series covering the winners of the Gen.T x Credit Suisse Social Impact Awards, as well as the stories we told with Samsung of Gen.T honourees in Hong Kong who are using technology to disrupt their industry. 

See the Samsung Innovators series. 

5. We launched a podcast

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Above  Noor Mastura

Crazy Smart Asia: Noor Mastura—Empowering Communities to Make Change

We launched a podcast! In the first season of Crazy Smart Asia, we spoke to entrepreneurs and other young change-makers to learn the unexpected stories of Asia's disruptors. All of the episodes offered a candid, smart look into how some of Asia's brightest got to where they are today. 

My standout episode was with Singaporean social activist Noor Mastura, who told the story of how she battled hunger, homelessness and depression before building two non-profits that help some of the country's most marginalised, winning Singaporean of the Year along the way.

Discover Season One and subscribe via your preferred podcast provider. 


6. We told stories from unconventional angles

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Above  Chope founder Arrif Ziaudeen

Parenting And Startup Life Are Basically The Same Thing. Here's Why

At Gen.T, part of our DNA is to not retread the same tired stories about entrepreneurship. We try to tell stories from unexpected, provocative and sometimes even quirky angles. This story from Gen.T's Southeast Asia editor Chong Seow Wei fully encapsulates the latter. The takeaway that rings most true for me: both your children and your team will always do as you do, not as you say. 

See also: How Playing Poker Can Make You A Better Entrepreneur

7. We covered the entrepreneurs in our community on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis

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Above  Getty Images

Malaysia’s Youngest Hospital CEO On Fighting Coronavirus On The Front Lines

It's been inspiring to see how many Gen.T honourees have risen to the challenge of our lifetime. From the medical frontlines to food banks, entrepreneurs in our community have been doing incredible work in the face of adversity. We did our best to cover some of those stories over the last 12 months. 

See also: How The Gen.T Community Is Helping In The Fight Against Covid-19

See also: Scientists Use AI To Find Optimal Coronavirus Treatments

See all our coronavirus coverage.

8. And the young leaders helping to build the next normal

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Above  Getty Images

The Next Normal: Life After Coronavirus

As well as the people on the frontline, a lot of our content this year has been focused on young leaders working on the next chapter, after coronavirus. We told stories of the leaders helping to build a more equitable, sustainable future post-pandemic. Put simply: "next normal". 

See also: This Entrepreneur Has Helped More Than 5 Million Children Get An Education During The Pandemic

9. We unpacked the trends shaping the future of Asia

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Southeast Asian Cinema Is Still Lagging Behind. Why?

As well as covering the young leaders at the heart of change in Asia, we also covered the ideas and industry trends of consequence in the region, including this piece on the future of Southeast Asian cinema. 

See also: How Beauty Start-Ups Are Transforming The Industry

See also: Are Comics The Art Form Of The People?

10. We told the stories of the change-makers in our community

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Above  PichaEats co-founders Lim Yuet Kim, Suzanne Ling and Lee Swee Lin

How A Malaysian Food Startup Is Helping Refugees Rebuild Their Lives

Pandemic or not, Gen.T's mission has always been to shine a light on the disruptive young leaders shaping Asia's future with their leadership and ideas. Here are some of our stories that did just that this year. 

See also: Comic Sakdiyah Ma’ruf On Battling Gender Inequality With Humour

See also: Singapore's Youngest Ever Nominated Member Of Parliament On Fighting Sexual Harassment On Campus

11. Our in-depth coverage of gender issues

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Above  Iza Calzado

“I Felt Like I Wasn’t Enough”: Actress Iza Calzado On The Fight For Realistic Beauty Standards In Entertainment

It's about to be 2021, and still the world's more-than 250 million female entrepreneurs face institutional biases and roadblocks at every step of the startup journey. Gen.T's digital editor Samantha Topp reported on some of the most pressing issues facing female founders in 2020. Here are some of the highlights. 

See also: “I'm Not Investing In Female Founders Again": Women Entrepreneurs Continue To Face Bias Despite Growth Of Female-Led VC Firms

See also: Is Tech Still Forgetting About Women?

12. Content to keep us safe and sane while WFH

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Above  Gianni Melwani

Try This WFH Yoga Workout For Beginners

This certainly wasn't a content pillar we were planning for at the beginning of 2020. Nonetheless, when lockdowns struck we tried to put together content that people would find useful while trying to remain productive and healthy at home.

See also: How Remote Working Can Actually Make Us Better Collaborators

See also: 5 Easy Breathing Techniques For Instant Calm

13. Actionable advice and insights for early-stage entrepreneurs

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Above  Jill Tang, co-founder of Ladies Who Tech

5 Tips For Finding The Right Co-Founder

For our readers in the wider Gen.T community who are early-stage entrepreneurs, we put together a number of pieces that offer an introduction on the fundamentals of startup life. Here are some of those guides. 

See also: Pitching Your Startup? Here Are 5 Red Flags VCs Look Out For

See also: 5 Lessons for First-Time CEOs From The Founder Of Goxip, Juliette Gimenez

See all 400 Leaders of Tomorrow on the Gen.T List 2020.

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