TTI given grant to develop, preserve Orang Ulu culture

The Tuyang Initiative co-founder Juvita Tatan Wan

MIRI: The Tuyang Initiative (TTI), a social enterprise under Tabung Ekonomi Gagasan Anak Bumiputera Sarawak (Tegas) incubation, has been awarded a financial grant to undertake a sustainable project that focuses on the development and preservation of indigenous Dayak cultural heritage.

The project, called The Tuyang Artistry Programme, intends to develop training modules to equip the Orang Ulu community with tools in order to better practise and promote the vast aspects of their cultural heritage ranging from music to crafts.

In popularising the knowledge and art forms, it is hoped that not only will Orang Ulu culture and heritage be preserved, but open up more economic and employment opportunities for both general practitioners and experienced artisans across the cultural economy value chain.

TTI co-founder Juvita Tatan Wan said that they aim to build a strong and dynamic programme in crafts and performance arts to meet collective goals and vision for the communities, while working closely with industry experts from around the region.

“It must be inclusive and caters to both artistry leaders as well as general practitioners in order to have meaningful long-term and scaled impact for the community and our cultural heritage,” she said, adding that they are proud and grateful to be one of the recipients of the 2018 Shell Sustainable Development Grant.

“This will go a long way in helping us take the necessary steps to create sustainable alternative income opportunities through cultural heritage, but which will also lead to the development and preservation of our tradition, art and culture.”

According to Sabah Shell Petroleum Company general manager Prithipal Singh, the Shell Sustainable Development Grants was introduced in 2008 and has since disbursed almost RM4 million to 96 different projects across the nation.

“Essentially, these grants serve as a catalyst to jump-start sustainable development projects undertaken by NGOs and community-based organisations.

“Grants are awarded to specific projects, based on the direct benefits to the community and the commitment shown towards sustainability,” said Prithipal.

The idea to kickstart TTI was sparked in 2016 by Kenyah father-daughter team, John Wan Usang and Juvita, from Long San, upper Baram.

As the “lucky ones” who had a chance at tertiary education and opportunities to work in various multinationals across industries in Kuala Lumpur, they felt that it was their responsibility to utilise their experience to find ways to ensure that the community and its cultural identity thrived.

TTI is currently a participant of Tegas Startup Lab (TSL), a one-year structured incubation programme that aims to equip Sarawak entrepreneurs with the tools to sustain and accelerate their business growth and builds on the Sarawak government’s digital economy blueprint.

Participants selected for TSL enjoy access to Tegas Digital Innovation Hub (TDIH) facilities and network, business coaching and mentoring, facilitation and knowledge-sharing sessions by industry and subject matter experts.

Topics covered in the business coaching and knowledge-sharing component of the programme include strategic management, financial management, sales and marketing and intellectual property, among others.

Apart from TTI, four outstanding startups selected for Tegas Startup Lab are Trifold X, Menur, Thirst Milkshake and Digital Curve.

“We believe that all five have the talent, skills and ambition to succeed in today’s digital economy. TSL is our investment to produce potential startups for the Digital Village, and towards empowering young entrepreneurs in Sarawak,” says Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh, who is also Tegas chairman.

Formed in 2012, Tegas is a charitable trust dedicated to promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and entrepreneurship amongst Sarawakian youths.

For more information on Tegas, visit www.tegas.org.my. For more information on TDIH, visit www.innovatesarawak.com.

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