A Step-by-Step Guide for Making Sense of 2021 – A Year In Review!
20 January 2022 - Ralph Mpofu

A moment to reflect

The year 2021 was another challenging year for us, but unlike 2020, this time around we were better suited to deal with the ever changing landscape around us. What the COVID-19 pandemic taught us in 2020 was: the power of collaboration, investing in people, and how to navigate through ever-changing obstacles – whether you jump over them or go around.

So, what happened in 2021?!

To us, 2021 was a year of inspiration, a year of empowerment, but most importantly a year of continued progress towards our vision to be a Hub for business and people-driven impact. The central theme for 2021 was our belief in the power and responsibility of every individual and business to make a positive change. As an impact intermediary, we needed to ensure that our role as an enabler, catalyst and connector was aligned with our 3 pillars of work: Empowered Individuals, Impactful Enterprises, and Inclusive Communities.

The 3 pillars of work have not only been our “compass” through the rough waters, but also been our approach towards contributing to the wellbeing of people, and the planet. So, as we review and reflect on another milestone year, we invite you to reconnect with us – you can also do the same with yourself – as we share our highlights of 2021.

Imagine The World Anew

Imagine the World Anew: A Call for Youth Voices on COVID-19 in Malaysia, was an exciting collaboration with the World Health Organization – Western Pacific Region (WHO-WPRO), WHO Malaysia, and Social Entrepreneurship to Spur Health (SESH Global). This 4 month initiative mobilised Malaysian youths and young professionals (18 – 30 years) to contribute towards national and regional efforts to tackle COVID-19. The solutions/ideas from participants included: Social Innovations in Health, Youth messaging and Strategic planning (Futures Thinking). 

Successful innovations and projects were able to receive further support in the form of seed funding, mentorships, and the opportunity to inform national and regional health policies.

Inspiring Conversation Led by Youth

  • Learning is the fundamental right for every individual. This is one of the most important principles in our work to empower individuals from every walk of life.

In our mission to continue to inspire individuals of all ages, we launched MY x Change (Malaysian Youth Exchange) in November, 2020. This curated monthly dialogue series is designed specifically for children and youth to have a safe platform where they can discuss topics they care deeply about. In 2021, MYxChange grew significantly, and this was powered by the collective curiosity and enthusiasm of children from Malaysia and around the world. This unique platform adopts a simple methodology that promotes agency, awareness and action around key local and global themes.

Each monthly series showcases 2 to 3 interviews of 10 minute bit-sized conversations that provide valuable insights and information beneficial for any audience watching. In 2021, MYxChange featured 30 student hosts and 28 guest speakers discussing topics ranging from child and human rights, education, climate change and STEM, garnering over 50,000 views across social media.

I Can, You Can, We Can

For a 2nd year running, we virtually launched our flagship annual Design For Change: I CAN Schools Challenge in July. The 2021 edition featured over 25+ projects from 100+ students and 50 educators from 25+ schools around Malaysia. Projects submitted ranged from grassroot initiatives touching on issues prevalent in our communities today, and solutions for food waste, mental wellbeing, climate change and many more. 

A positive highlight from the I CAN Schools Challenge 2021 was the continued creativity, resilience and resourcefulness shown by young Malaysian students determined to take an active role in addressing social and environmental issues, despite the limitations imposed by the Movement Control Order (MCO) throughout the year.

4 years into running this challenge, we are continuously amazed and inspired by the contributions of these young “superheroes” and “edu-heroes” using this global platform to share their powerful ‘stories for change’.

Showcasing Stories for Change

What happens when a child opens a door and sees a world full of opportunities to make a change to save the planet? And what happens when this child tells his or her story of change on TV?

With the support of the Ministry of Education Malaysia and a partnership with Media Prima, one of the largest media organisations in Malaysia, Impact Hub Kuala Lumpur successfully launched ‘Majalah Didik’ – a TV programme that showcases the amazing journeys through the eyes of the brilliant children participating in the I CAN Schools Challenge. Majalah Didik’ which literally translates to ‘Educational Magazine’ features 25 social impact projects from schools across Malaysia.

Each episode follows the journey of each school project team, and how they bring to the table their own ideas and approach refined through FIDS methodology – FEEL, IMAGINE, DO & SHARE to create an impact within their own communities. With this show, all the impact projects from our young change makers will reach every television in our nation, scaling up the impact the students have created, and empowering others that they too CAN bring change to their communities!

Majalah Didik will air live every week on DidikTV throughout January to February 2022. Follow ‘Majalah Didik’ on Facebook and Instagram to catch the latest updates!

Human Library – A Space to ‘UnjudgeSomeone’

How often do we take a moment to truly get to know someone? And how often do we actually approach and seek to understand those in marginalised and underserved groups?

Now what is a ‘Human Library’ you may ask? Well, to put it simply, instead of having multiple shelves filled with books, it is instead a safe open platform for individuals like us to hear the stories and livelihoods of those that face stigma or discrimination as a result of their diverse professions, backgrounds, and life experiences. To date, we have over 40+ human books in our Depot who share their personal stories to raise awareness, and fight prejudice through these engaging conversations.

Hence, the books found in the Human Library are real humans themselves with titles that are short and straight to the point. Book titles range from ‘Homeless’, ‘Disabled’, ‘Teen Mom’, ‘Victim of abuse’ and even ‘Transgender’, each book challenges a stereotype through dialogue, whilst celebrating individual differences and diversity.

In 2021, we were able to feature some of our human books in local and regional virtual Human Library sessions. We are grateful to our partners for supporting us in driving more conversations for diversity and inclusion.

In 2022, we are looking towards a future where our Human Libraries will be able to reach a wider audience in our ever diverse communities. Aiming to challenge the assumptions, stereotypes, and prejudice present to this day, by providing a safe and open space to connect and inspire people of what beauty our differences can make.

Building More for Impact

A key motto under our Impactful enterprise pillar of work is the belief that ‘businesses are a force for good’. As a member of the world’s largest impact entrepreneur network building communities for impact at scale, Impact Hubs are strategically positioned to continue to provide the ideal playground and support for entrepreneurs, innovators and businesses looking to scale their impact. 

In 2021, our strategic focus centred around our combined efforts to provide local innovators and entrepreneurs with the tools and resources to adapt to the ‘new normal’, and towards building more for impact. The key common themes across our initiatives were: youth, climate change, digitalisation, and SDGs. Our participants ranged from concept/idea stage solutions to scale stage ventures seeking to scale beyond Malaysia.

Following up on our approach over the last 3 years, we ran 2 capacity building programmes specifically for youth initiatives. We partnered with WWF to provide 50 youth food changemakers with tools and processes to incorporate social innovation, design thinking and innovative business models towards building sustainable food systems. 

For a 2nd year running, we partnered with Bank of America and Impact Hub Asia-Pacific, to run a 9 month long Accelerate Membership enterprise recovery programme for 12 young entrepreneurs in Malaysia (100 across APAC). This programme is designed to up-skill, re-tool and digitally connect youth-driven enterprises to thrive post COVID-19.

In our efforts to support local entrepreneurs to scale to new regional and global markets, we ran the Accelerate2030 programme for 5 scale-stage ventures in Malaysia. Over a 3 month programme, local entrepreneurs were connected to scale readiness knowledge and skill sets, a global network of impact ventures, innovators, and investors, as well as mentorships support to accelerate their scaling journey. 

“It always seems impossible until it’s done”

Nelson Mandela

Towards Building A Better World

2021 was definitely a year full of challenges, and wonderful wins. Our team was able to build better relationships within and with our communities. We were able to review and reflect on what went well, and what did not go very well. Learning is an integral part of our DNA, and it’s through such experiences that we become better versions of ourselves.

Towards 2022 and beyond, we believe the world needs a little bit more ‘love’. If we can love ourselves, we sure can go a step further towards being more compassionate, show empathy to those around us, and to our planet. The year 2022, will mark 7 years of our existence, and we intend to redesign our work to incorporate ‘love’ in everything we do.

Let’s Make Impact Happen!

With love

Impact Hub Kuala Lumpur team

If you would like to collaborate with us on activities and programmes, do drop us an email at [email protected]