2 January 2019 - kualalumpur

Wow – what a year! Thank you for an amazingly eventful, inspiring 2018! 

2018 was the year we turned 3, and grew out of being a startup. Turning 3 made us really reflective — as you do when you’re growing up — and we took to asking our community how we could better serve them.

One of the things about being a changemaker is when you’re so busy doing the work that matters, you can sometimes forget your “why”. It’s always easy to celebrate the successful collaborations, new encounters and unprecedented opportunities we had. True, 2018 brought us closer to many like-minded changemakers across Malaysia, Southeast Asia and around the world. We experimented with new business models, sealed new partnerships and made bold decisions. We made wellbeing a priority. Not just for ourselves, but also for our community and the planet so much so that it became the foundation of our work in 2018. From our Wellbeing Accelerator, we created a Hub for Wellbeing as an experiment in building purpose, place, process and people, centred on happiness and wellbeing. But the fundamental question we asked ourselves throughout the year was: WHY a hub for impact?

In this first week of 2019, we reflect upon some of our achievements for 2018 in our 3 pillars of work, share 3 lessons we learnt, 3 inspirations and 3 things to look forward to in this New Year.



Pillar #1: Empowered Learners — Why? Because  learning is a fundamental right of every person. We are committed to empowering learners from every walk of life to change their lives and impact others.

Our Design For Change programme helped 50 eduheroes and 300 superheroes discover their ICAN spirit by design thinking and doing. The national ICAN Challenge supported two winning Malaysian student teams to Taiwan to join 1,000 students from 40 countries in showcasing their stories of change at the “Be The Change” Festival, designed to instil in children the belief and courage that they have the ability to take actions and make the world a better place.

We embarked on a new partnership with Sunway University & iLabs to create our first ever pop up hub experience — a Hub for Learning, with labs & hackathons, and networking events designed for the university students to inspire them to become social entrepreneurs!

We collaborated with the Malaysian Collective Impact Initiative and Education Funders Roundtable to build Gardens of Opportunities in 10 schools in Klang, Malaysia — taking placemaking and the creation of safe spaces to another level. 

— A lesson in Patience — 

One lesson we learnt was that patience was key, as was waiting for the right partners. Working with the right people is so important when you have big ambitions like ours, and finding those who share those ambitions and values is simply critical when you’re working with young people to positively impact their learning outcomes and futures. Education and learning is a long term investment. It’s a long play. The returns are huge when you invest in the right people, at the right time and with the right outcome intentions.

— Educators are our heroes — 

What really inspired us was seeing the efforts of the educators whom we had met to create good learning environments for their students despite really scarce resources so that they have the opportunity to learn and grow as individuals. Hats off to our educators — the true changemakers and Eduheroes of the world!!



Pillar #2: Impactful Enterprises — Why? Because we believe businesses are a force for good, and that to create impact is good for business.

We kicked off the year with the Investment Ready Programme, organised in partnership with Allianz & Impact Hub Munich. The programme provided two ventures with 6 months of specialised support to help bring them to the next level. Picha Project got to compete in the finals in Munich, Germany and won the Grand Prize!

We signed an MOU with fellow intermediaries in 10 countries to take the Global Goals Labs to innovators and intrapreneurs, and announced this during the United Nations General Assembly & Global Goals week.

ASEAN Impact Challenge grew stronger in Southeast Asia. For the first time this year, we partnered with Grab to create the inaugural Grab Impact Award to provide greater support for social innovators in the region. We counted 60 partnerships from across sectors and saw the results of our investments in Southeast Asia’s innovators over the years finally bear fruit. 

— A lesson in Persistence and Publicity — 

We learnt that to gain credibility and trust, one must be consistent and true to one’s vision and mission. This year — after 4 years of the ASEAN Impact Challenge programme, we saw how our persistence paid off in terms of the partnerships we struck and impact created, but we needed to tell others about our journey, and our biggest lesson was that it was OK to shout out loud about why we’re investing in the next generation of game changers. That we shouldn’t be shy about our intentions and impact. This was about getting others to be inspired to become game changers. Shout out loud and shout out proud!

— Be Inspired By The Results, Not The People — 

There’s something about the world of entrepreneurship that always makes heroes out of the entrepreneur. This year we were inspired to see how some of the entrepreneurs we had supported over the years were themselves creating results for others — supporting them to embark on their own entrepreneurship journeys. Now that’s what we call a cycle of growth and an inspiration!



Pillar #3: Inclusive Cities & Communities — Why? Because we believe society can only progress when we include the most marginalised and provide everyone with a platform to thrive. 

Six human books representing some of Malaysia’s most marginalised communities were featured among 240+ readers at the 9th World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur. We ran Human Libraries almost every other month-in universities, hospitals, corporate offices and parks. All thanks to a growing number of Human Books and supporters!

— Getting It Right Takes Time — 

Inclue — our programme providing micro-jobs for the homeless had a redesign — based on inputs and feedback from our partners and communities. It’s now called IncluED with a focus on Entrepreneurship & (Personal) Development. When we launched it in 2016, we were so focused on finding a dignified way for the homeless to have access to income that we overlooked that some of them didn’t want to become job seekers — they wanted to become job creators! We’re now shaping a programme based on our lessons learnt and are looking for partners who will help us make this happen! 

— I am Human. I am Malaysia — 

We closed the year with a campaign, Sama-Sama, to promote togetherness, build empathy, acceptance and a more inclusive Malaysia by featuring stories of 10 extraordinary Malaysians, who despite the odds and challenges life threw at them, have found ways to live their lives to the fullest and inspire others to do the same.

These Human Books are our biggest inspirations for the year because they have grounded us, reminded us that being a hub for impact is not about a cool space or yet another accelerator, it’s about being a platform to give voice to the marginalised and empower their work, to create programmes that can build more inclusive cities and communities and to go where the impact needs to happen. 



2019 is here! So what are we looking forward to in this New Year?

— Doing Good Is Great For Business — 

2019 will see more new entrants into the field of business creating impact. This is because the traditional investors are coming into the impact space in full force. Impact Funds by the global private equity firms are going to grow in numbers and quantum, and with that, the incentives for businesses to tap into those funds. This means that social enterprises will now need to compete with traditional enterprises and we believe that’s a good thing. A rising tide lifts all boats. Nowhere is this more important than when you’re trying to create impact and be financially sustainable! 

— The Future of Learning is Here — 

In 2019, we will see a growing trend of alternative Iearning environments and service providers emerging. Young people will not only learn from the real world, their learning will take place outside of classrooms — in the real world and in the digital world! We look forward to working with the educators and policymakers in Malaysia to empower learners!

— Co-Working is dead. Long Live co-working! — 

2019 will see a paradoxical growth in numbers of co-working spaces but a reduction in numbers of companies that actually make it a profitable business. Yes, the gold rush is still there but soon they will discover there’s no real gold to be found.

There will be a few brands that have hacked the business model and execution and they tend to have the backing of large investors or have been around long enough that they’re selling the promise of the brand, not the experience. The moment you see brands like Regus rebrand as a co-working space, you know it’s a game not worth playing. When you see WeWork struggling to be profitable, you know for sure that a real estate play only works when you’re the one leasing to co-working spaces, whilst the gold rush is still there.

What we are excited about is the new collaborations that are taking place between companies of different sizes and life stages — partnerships that work on the basis of what makes good business & impact sense! That’s what WE call co-working! And we believe this model of collaboration and inclusive business is the closest we will get to building truly inclusive communities! 



Thank you for being part of our 2018. As we step into 2019, let us remind ourselves why we are doing what we are doing and make it a year that makes that difference! Here’s to more partnerships that can empower learners, create impactful enterprises and build inclusive cities & communities!

Hello 2019! We’ve been waiting for you!

With purpose and passion