Nini Daing of Malaysia is changing lives with her commitment to develop the next generation of sustainable entrepreneurs. Environmentally and socially conscious entrepreneurs provide a vast array of benefits to the globe. They create new markets leading to job creation and consciously run their businesses in ways that aim to protect and preserve the earth’s resources, all while addressing and resolving customer pain points. Nini Daing is the Co-founder of the Youth Trust Foundation, myHarapan, an organization that trains environmentally and socially conscious entrepreneurs.
Located partially on the southeast Asian peninsula and partially on the island of Borneo, is the country of Malaysia. With the sixth-largest economy in Southeast Asia and 39th largest in the world, Malaysia is dynamic with new markets being created regularly by entrepreneurs. This economy has been further stimulated by well-equipped young entrepreneurs from the Youth Trust Foundation. myHarapan provides them the tools they need to create a business from startup to the execution stage receiving comprehensive training and mentorship along the way.
[Photo: courtesy of The Youth Trust Foundation] Youth at myHarapan being coached on how to problem-solve in teams, a cornerstone skill in entrepreneurship.
Eleven years ago, Daing noticed some of the youth in her town wanted to address the problems their community was facing by proposing entrepreneurial solutions that could contribute to the country’s social well being. When these young people sought out governmental support, they were turned away because of their age. Daing knew she wanted to help them by listening to their ideas and providing resources to help bring their solutions to life. Helping young people has always been a passion for Daing, and co-founding myHarapan has allowed her to develop strong relationships and aid them in their personal development and entrepreneurial pursuits.
“The youth needed someone who was nonpartisan, who would be able to provide them with this platform to not only voice out what it is that they needed or what it is that they had in mind. We wanted to help them take action so that’s where we came in.”
How it Works
Through mentorship and coaching, myHarapan develops the entrepreneurial skillset of passionate youth in Malaysia seeking to start their own businesses or social initiatives. From as early as 12 years old, they can join the foundation and be trained through engaging in social projects that interest them and ideating solutions to the problems that arise. As they reach their final years of high school and enter college, the foundation helps youth consider turning one of their solutions into a business. Mentors help walk them through conducting market research, developing a business plan, and finding investors.
As a result of the partnership between the foundation and the hard-working youth, many success stories have developed. For example, EATS, SHOOTS & ROOTS, a social enterprise that offers products and services for permaculture and edible gardens to empower people to grow their own food, began as an idea at myHarapan and has now contributed to the creation of 46+ gardens being built in Malaysia. This work is especially impactful when thinking about climate change, as food systems, mainly those of livestock production, farming, and waste treatment make up 34% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions according to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
[Photo: courtesy of The Youth Trust Foundation] EATS, SHOOTS, AND ROOTS, a myHarapan founded social enterprise that provides products and services that help empower people to grow their own food.
The Foundation subscribes to Mohammed Yunus’ 7 Principles of Social Business. It’s the idea that though there is nothing wrong with having a profitable business, one must also be mindful of the environmental and communal impact a business has on the world. The foundation focuses on teaching and training students on how to develop environmentally-conscious solutions. Daing shared that the foundation teaches the youth that it is their responsibility to provide zero net carbon solutions as frequently as possible in the entrepreneurial world.
As Daing discussed being environmentally conscious, she noted “I think it’s a mindset. I think the young people are so receptive from 12 and above. It’s something that we talk about a lot.”
[Photo: courtesy of The Youth Trust Foundation] The TYTF (myHarapan) Team. Co-founder, Nini Daing is pictured in white.
In addition to the mentorship and training, myHarapan also works with environmental professionals to provide the youth with data and metrics regarding climate change to help them make the most informed sustainable decisions when creating their business models.
She shared how providing evidence to potential investors about why these socially and environmentally conscious businesses should be supported can be challenging since it often involves trying to change the way people typically think about business and making a profit. Though having these conversations with investors can be tough, Daing has remained committed and hopeful about the future of entrepreneurship and how it can be used to cultivate a more environmentally and socially conscious world.
“This is such a great thing. It’s something any business should consider. We are starting to see Malaysia seriously consider real solutions and make changes that are more sustainable” Daing said.
I left my conversation with Daing feeling very inspired. I was moved by her passion for helping youth realize their own potential and by the entrepreneurial wisdom she shared with me during our conversation. I learned from her to start small, and with a solution oriented idea that I am passionate about. To not worry so much about how I’m going to impact the globe but rather to keep my gaze on affecting positive change in my local community. Then day by day, I can make change happen that helps others and our planet.
A huge thank you to Nini Daing for having this conversation with me. You can stay up to date with myHarapan by visiting their website:
Nini Daing, The Youth Trust Foundation, 2021.
Malaysia’s economy: https://www.asiafundmanagers.com/int/malaysia-economy/
Carbon Foodprint of Food Systems: https://www.carbonbrief.org/food-systems-responsible-for-one-third-of-human-caused-emissions