In Malaysia there are many incredible social entrepreneurs and NGO and nonprofit leaders on a mission to create much needed social change. We hand-picked 10 women who are paving the way for the social entrepreneurship scene, NGOs and nonprofit organisations in Malaysia. Make sure to keep an eye on them and their work in 2019!

1. Faizeleen Mohamed

Faizeleen Mo NGO Leader Social Entrepreneur Malaysia 2019

Fai is the Social Impact Director Incitement. Armed with a degree in Sociology & Anthropology, she started out as Project Manager overseeing all of Incitement’s CSR programmes. Fai has an outstanding track record of working on the CSR programmes of some of the world’s largest consumer brands, such as Pepsico, FedEx, L’Oreal, and many more, and was also responsible for the VIP2017 programme, an NBOS initiative directly under the National Strategy Unit of the Ministry of Finance of Malaysia, carrying responsibility for the design and implementation of 10 social business frameworks in collaboration with nonprofit organisations and social enterprises throughout South East Asia

2. Rhonwyn Hagedorn

Rhonwyn Hagedorn NGO Leader Social Entrepreneur Malaysia 2019

The 25-year old “half-Chinese, half-Dutch, and 100% Malaysian embarked on an unusual path toward self-development. She took three gap years, and began interning with non-profit social enterprise eHomemakers before applying to university. After being a recipient of the Dana Belia grant, she founded Project WHEE!

Project WHEE! advocates for the sustainability of rural communities through entrepreneurial activities and youth volunteering programs. They do this by facilitating entrepreneurial activities and organising volunteering exchanges with the locals. In Bario, Sarawak, we currently run youth volunteering programs, ranging from eco-tourism to preservation of traditional rice farming methods. Volunteers shadow a farmer to carry out their missions and at the same time learn from the locals about a new way of life, a new language and the importance of agriculture. We also help out with the local community whenever they need us. WHEE has other project sites as well that are still in the development process.

3. Su Shern New

New Su Shern NGO Leader Social Entrepreneur Malaysia 2019

Su Shern is a a huge people-person and has spent years volunteering for nonprofits. At 19 years old, she was moved by a video about a human trafficking victim which inspired her to start a nonprofit organisation, Project Liber8, and never looked back since. Su Shern finds fulfillment in organising creative campaigns and spearheading talented young individuals to fight for the voiceless.

Her passion and drive towards social causes also led her to start a social enterprise, Ratio:Cause, an organisation that helps nonprofits to source opportunities and resources in collaboration with corporate companies, organisations, governments, and partners. On top of that she is a founding partner of a creative company at Pinnacle Avera embracing the role as Head of Special Projects, leading teams to drive business development and creative projects.

4. May Wong (Lydia)

May Wong (Lydia) NGO Leader Social Entrepreneur Malaysia 2019

Armed with more than 10 years of experience in marketing, communications and corporate social responsibility May Wong is quickly becoming an icon in the social entrepreneurship scene. Her bold vision, impeccable speed and execution, combined with an intense passion for social innovation is taking the social scene by storm. Currently she holds a position at Taylor’s Education Group, spearheading Group Communications & Corporate Social Responsibility. In 2018, together with CIMB Islamic, she successfully wrapped up the second year of Program Keusahawanan, funding 107 out of 126 B40 participants with a seed grant to kickstart a home-business, as a part of the Taylor Community initiative.

May stresses the importance of impact measurement, and together with Incitement developed an impact measurement tool called Hourglass, which is now used to run every project through to assess eligibility of funding and sustainability performance. May is a pioneer in the space of sustainability performance, an inspiring thinker, a role model in the implementation of sustainability programmes, and most certainly someone to look out for in 2019.

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5. Chia Wen Shin

Chia Wen Shin NGO Leader Social Entrepreneur Malaysia 2019

Chia is an impact-driven entrepreneur who seeks to apply her abilities to contributing to environmental related work and sustainability management. She is a recipient of the Queens Young Leader award and founder of Green Yards.

Green Yards is an impact driven enterprise that inspires to provide alternative and proper channel for local community to dispose of their used cooking oil which is subsequently reprocessed into eco-soaps that are able to clean and degrease effectively. The soaps are commercialised and part of the profits congregated will be donated to charitable organisation to help to combat environmental related issues. The “grease to soaps” program was also launched, which provides free pick up services and free eco-kitchen soaps to encourage the public to recycle their used cooking oil. Green Yards also conducts eco-soap workshops for free or at a very minimum fee to deliver cognisance and greater awareness among the local community and equip them with additional knowledge on how to reprocess used cooking oil into soap. Green Yards aims to highlight the danger of discarding used cooking oil into drains which will end up polluting rivers, a main source of water to millions.

6. Shyam Priah

Shyam Priah NGO Leader Social Entrepreneur Malaysia 2019

Shyam is an accomplished CSR Strategist with experience in establishing government, community and NGO relationships in the CSR industry. She is a recognised expert in the fields of CSR & Sustainable Event Management. She has spearheaded numerous triple bottom line initiatives to help businesses grow more predictably and sustainably in complex operating environments.

Shyam is the founder of Sampah Masyarakat, a volunteer based movement with the aim to foster awareness on creating a litter free society and founder of The Yellow House KL, the first ‘voluntour’ (volunteer – tourists) hostel in Kuala Lumpur. Shyam also created the progressive social concept that is Unseen Tours of KL, an initiative that empowers homeless people to get back on their feet through education in tourism and training as a tour guide to act as a tourist guide through KL bringing you to the ‘unseen’ places of the city.

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7. Nur Azlyn Abu Bakar

Nur Azlyn NGO Leader Social Entrepreneur Malaysia 2019

Nur Azlyn is one of the cofounders of ROCKA Atelier, a social enterprise that was established to produce a quality and ethical women fashion clothing lines, empowering girls and young women to engage in a meaningful career development through apprenticeship programme, and to create income generating activities for YPVWM; the foundation for Women’s Education & Vocational Malaysia.

ROCKA Atelier is a socially conscious lifestyle brand whose purpose is to design and produce a quality and affordable clothing lines for women. At the same time, it provides opportunities for underprivileged women and girls to learn and experience the world of fashion and entrepreneurship through its apprenticeship program.

8. Caroline Fong

Caroline Fong NGO Leader Social Entrepreneur Malaysia 2019

Caroline is the Founder and Director of Coffeezone Malaysia, which started out from the desire of its founders to bring high-quality coffee at affordable prices to students and everybody who appreciates a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee. But Coffeezone is no ordinary coffeeshop. The company has a social cause to which it is highly dedicated. It hires differently-abled persons to work for them, after providing them with the necessary training, giving people with various disabilities, like deaf people and even the mentally challenged ones, a chance to get a job and fit into society better.

All the necessary training is done by Coffeezone. They have modified the training programme for regular baristas, so that differently-abled persons will be able to get trained and work as a barista as well. When buying a cup of coffee from CoffeeZone, you also decide to support a social cause, granting differently-abled persons a change to a normal life as much as possible.

9. Yasmin Rasyid

Yasmin Rashid NGO Leader Social Entrepreneur Malaysia 2019

Who doesn’t know Yasmin Rasyid?! Founder of EcoKnights, an environmental organisation that supports all national and international environmental programmes with the emphasis of promoting sustainable development amongst key business players and communities, recipient of a wide range of awards and recognitions such as most recently the BrandLaureate CSR Leadership Awards 2018, Yasmin is a biologist by profession, environmentalist by passion, and with over 20 years of experience and knowledge in environmental management, community development, and social responsibility in Malaysia, one the best-armed individuals to attack social issues in Malaysia and beyond.

Aside from her already deep involvement and commitment to social innovation, she also volunteers regularly for local environmental and social NGOs. She founded EcoKnights in 2005 with the aim of assisting communities in the areas of sustainable development, and annum 2019 is still pioneering the social entrepreneurial landscape in Malaysia.

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10. Marisha Naz Shakil

Marisha Naz NGO Leader Social Entrepreneur Malaysia 2019

Marisha has had an international career in policy and technology, specialising in emerging markets. An economist by training, her early career was rooted in policy design and implementation at the Malaysian Central Bank. In addition to the public sector, she has also done strategy and implementation work in the private sector, specialising in tech companies scaling in Asia. Marisha has had over 15 years of experience in the social impact sector – beginning at the age of 9 when she was a national TV show host levering media as platform to highlight youth development issues in Malaysia. Since then, she has worked with grass root organisations and international NGOs from UNICEF to the Oxford Development Consultancy.

Most recently, she led a 3-year corporate volunteer program which focuses on financial literacy for urban poor women entrepreneurs. Marisha holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University College of London (UCL) and an MBA from the University of Oxford.

Currently Marisha focuses on her social enterprise, Butterfly FX, which empowers micro-entrepreneurs to become more financially literate and move up the value chain by providing personalised, action-oriented tools that allow them to apply practical learnings to their everyday lives.