Tien Chew and Bryna Kaur spend time with seven local social enterprises to learn how a new wave of businesses are mushrooming to address public welfare and environmental issues.

Most, if not all of us have heard about social enterprises, but what and how much do we really know about them?

Briefly explained, a social enterprise is an organisation that does business with a social impact in mind, where the profit made in running these businesses is to be invested back to further improve the social problem it tries to tackle.

Despite championing different causes, these unsung heroes are linked via a common purpose: to promote the well-being of others through a sustainable commercial model.

Eat, Shoots & Roots

Shao-Lyn Low, co-founder and creative director together with Beatrice Yong, the strategy director at Eat, Shoots & Roots, are a team of urbanites who feel strongly about reconnecting people with nature through growing food in various spaces. Believing that food and gardens are the perfect escape city folks need—allowing them to interact with nature—Eat, Shoots & Roots aims to create change for the environment and communities by using their skills and knowledge. With a background in the design and advertising industry, “my current involvement at Eat, Shoots & Roots means I get to put my skills to good use for a cause that I believe is important,” says Low. “I am always looking for ways to make a change in people’s lives. I’ve had a strong interest in the environment and its issues since high school, which grew into a passion and thankfully also full-time job,” says Yong who studied law and worked as a strategic planner in advertising before joining Eat, Shoots & Roots.

Hair: Godwin Yap from A Cut Above; Makeup: Clé de Peau Beauté

Do Something Good

Siti Nur Khaleeda Jamaludin, better known as Lily is the project manager at Do Something Good, an organisation that seeks to create socially conscious Malaysian leaders, primarily through volunteerism. At Do Something Good, Lily works on creating initiatives that funnel volunteers strategically into non-governmental organisations and runs leadership programmes that foster a deep understanding and empathy on social issues in Malaysia among other things. Despite being in her early twenties, Lily has an extensive background and experience in the industry. When in America, she invested time in racial and economic justice and worked with an organisation called LIFT, where they only hired college undergraduates to help low-income community members find jobs, access welfare benefits and handle evictions. Apart from working with LIFT, Lily also spent a summer doing research for SUARAM, a Malaysian-based human rights organisation, and taught at a juvenile home for a semester.

Hair: Anita Tang from A Cut Above; Makeup: Clé de Peau Beauté

MaGIC Social Entrepreneurship

MaGIC Social Entrepreneurship (SE), an arm of government-linked MaGIC organisation, has a plan to foster a community of social entrepreneurs to succeed on a national and global scale. Ehon Chan, the executive director, has had extensive experience in the industry during his time in Australia, co-finding the Youth Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation (YES) program in Brisbane, along with TeacherTime, a company that built collaborative tech for educators. Ever the entrepreneur, he was also involved with fundraising campaigns and community development projects that included a male suicide prevention campaign.

“Growing up, my family was rather poor but I had a great childhood. From an early age, I was taught the importance of being part of the society and building that sense of community. The people become our safety net and support network through tough times, and also create the camaraderie during good times,” Chan expresses.

Hair: Kay Tuan from Centro; Grooming: Clé de Peau Beauté


Tandemic is a social innovation firm of about 25 individuals across Malaysia and Singapore that focuses on building a society of creators addressing tough social challenges. The firm concentrates on consultancy, venture building, along with training and development of organisations relating to the social sector. 

Tandemic’s CEO is a passionate man named Kal Joffres, a Canadian who initially came to Malaysia to work with an investment fund and eventually saw potential. “It’s not about helping Malaysians, Cambodians or the Burmese. It’s about helping people. We won’t solve the world’s challenges by throwing more money at them. We’ll solve them by getting more people invested in and capable of addressing them,” says Joffres.

Hair: Kay Tuan from Centro; Grooming: Clé de Peau Beauté

Global Shapers Community

Initiated by the World Economic Forum, Global Shapers Community is a dedicated NGO and network of young and talented individuals that seek to make a contribution to their communities. With over 453 city-based hubs, it is an organisation of like-minded individuals that undertake a variety of activities and projects that align with their pursuits, which are non-political, non-partisan and prioritise the greater good of the public. 

As the treasurer of Global Shapers Community KL, Rebekah Yeoh’s main responsibilities revolve around balancing the organisation’s books on a monthly basis, keeping an eye on the budget, sourcing for more funding and also making sure people get paid on time. Despite her busy schedule as YTL Corporation’s corporate finance manager and Global Shapers’ treasurer, she also actively takes part in implementing projects to benefit the less fortunate. “Global Shapers was an outlet to let my inner creativity run wild when it came to community projects. There are infinite things you can do, and what better way to do it than with other shapers who contribute manpower, knowledge, experience, and support,” remarks Yeoh.

Hair: Kay Tuan from Centro; Makeup: Clé de Peau Beauté ; Skirt: Dior

Saora Industries

Although young, Ganesh Muren’s mission is anything but juvenile. Named after the Sun, Saora Industries aims to be the very image of life and hope by embarking on a noble quest: to provide clean drinking water to communities in need of it. Partly inspired by his voyage to Mumbai, India as a teenager, Ganesh fount it ironic that a bustling city with a high GDP lacked a basic necessity—clean water. A mechanical engineering student, he sought to seek a solution to this conundrum and uncovered that certain communities in Malaysia also suffered from the same issue. A visit to a village in Negeri Sembilan further fuelled his desire to find a solution in providing a sustainable and cost effective way to provide clean water, as he realised that many families lacked the resource.

Hair: Anita Tang from A Cut Above; Grooming: Clé de Peau Beauté

Arus Academy

Alina Amir, Daniel Russel, Felicia Yoon and David Chak are the founders of Arus Academy, an organisation that works towards encouraging the love of learning amongst students through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. With a goal to make learning interesting and relatable for students to grow into life-long independent learners, they offer students a curriculum that revolves around the Maker Education philosophy where students learn based on projects and challenges. Founders Alina and Yoon graduated with an actuarial science degree from University of Illinois and London School of Economics respectively while Russel holds an engineering degree from MMU and Chak, a psychology degree from McGill University. They all taught at Teach For Malaysia, before starting Arus Academy. 

Hair: Anita Tang from A Cut Above; Grooming: Clé de Peau Beauté

Click here for exclusive behind the scenes photos of the photoshoot to this spread and to read the full feature story, get a copy of Malaysia Tatler December 2015 issue, available on newsstands now or click here to purchase the digital version.

Photography: Morven Koh; Styling: Tan Xi Voon; Creative Director: Allan Casal

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