‘Social entrepreneurship skills good for youths’

Participants and ETAs pose for a group photo with (third row, from third left) Aldrino, Sernovitz, Evelyn, Choo and Cheong.

KUCHING: Social entrepreneurship skills should be adopted by the younger generation, especially students.

LifeChamp’s chief executive officer Choo Choon Sian made this call when met by reporters after the closing ceremony of the three-day ‘Click! Camp 4.0’ held at 360 Hotel recently.

“This camp is a programme under the Embassy of the United States of America in Kuala Lumpur. The embassy feels it is important to inculcate social entrepreneurship skills in teenagers because they feel if they are taught this at an early age they can then do something that will be more impactful for the community when they grow up,” said Choo.

“They feel that these skills are relevant, thus they want to teach more of these skills to youths in the rural areas so they will be equipped with the skills to solve some of the more critical issues in their own community.”

Meanwhile, camp deputy project director Carolyn Cheong echoed Choo’s sentiments, adding that as they had a chance to go abroad and receive different exposures it would be an eye-opening moment for them.

“We realise that these are things that students can actually do, but this sort of thing is something new in Malaysia. So, what we wanted to highlight in this camp is that as youths, as individuals and as Malaysians, we have the power to make a change as well.

“All we need is some guidance, especially since our target group is so young. But nothing is impossible, and we want to teach them that they too can make a change in their community,” Cheong said, adding that Malaysians, especially youths, should not solely rely on the government for help.

Choo explained that the three-day camp was targeted at underprivileged communities in Perak, Penang, Kedah, Johor, Pahang, Terengganu and Sarawak, and it included students from schools participating in the Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETA) Programme, Teach For Malaysia (TFM) programme, English Access Microscholarship Programme and Madarasah schools.

“In this camp, we brought 10 Fulbright ETAs from America, and we had a 100 per cent attendance from them. These teachers have been put in schools where the English levels are not so good,” Choo said, while Cheong added that each teacher could bring five students who had an interest on entrepreneurship as well as an interest to improve the communities.

Choo added that the camp was centred on the two pillars of social entrepreneurship and improving English. The participants were also taught leadership and communication skills.

“Under social entrepreneurship skills, we first teach them how to identify a problem in their community, which we then brainstorm and test.

“After that, we help to build a business model around their idea and then we equip them with the skills to do fundraising, how to collaborate with other people and how to make these social projects successful,” he said, adding that they were to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges and then receive seed funding to execute the project.

Cheong said each team would receive RM200 as seed funding, while the top three teams would receive an additional RM100 seed funding.

“We want to motivate them because they need a level of competitiveness, but it doesn’t mean that the top three teams who receive the additional RM100 seed funding would necessarily go to Kuala Lumpur for the grand finale, but each team has an equal opportunity to go.

“It is also equally important that they retain some sustainability from this camp, because there would be no point if we gave them all the knowledge and skills required but they don’t put it into practice.”

This was the first time that the camp was held in Sarawak, and the schools that participated were SMK Kota Samarahan, SMK Taee, SMK Serian, SMK Bandar Samariang, SMK Tarat, SMK Semerah Padi, SMK Siburan, SMK Muara Tuang, SMK Simanggang and SMK St Luke.

Also present at the closing ceremony were US Embassy press and information officer Harvey Sernovitz, Institute of Engineers Malaysia Sarawak Branch (Young Graduate Section) chairman Ron Aldrino and Sarawak Education Department principal assistant director Evelyn Ritikos Jaul.

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