A Look Back At Some Of Our Favourite Stories And Moments Of 2020
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
7. We covered the entrepreneurs in our community on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis
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.
8. And the young leaders helping to build the next normal
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".
9. We unpacked the trends shaping the future of Asia
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: Are Comics The Art Form Of The People?
10. We told the stories of the change-makers in our community
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.
11. Our in-depth coverage of gender issues
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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: Is Tech Still Forgetting About Women?
12. Content to keep us safe and sane while WFH
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.
13. Actionable advice and insights for early-stage entrepreneurs
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 all 400 Leaders of Tomorrow on the Gen.T List 2020.