Workshop in Malaysia: Journalism for Social Good

Just back from a quick trip to Malaysia, delivering a workshop and training for social enterprises, organised by The British Council.

Videographer Dan Jones and I had the pleasure of working with 14 social entrepreneurs, students and journalists through the Journalism for Social Good programme.

Safwan Siddiq

Safwan Siddiq at Ecocentric Transitions

Our three day workshop covered visual and audio storytelling, interviewing techniques, impact measurement, technicalities of film-making, engaging journalists, and getting content seen.

We visited a social enterprise in Kuala Lumpur, Ecocentric Transistions, where we and our students interviewed founders Firdaus Nisha Muhammad Faizal and Ly Mun Loo.

And thanks to the generous hospitality of several of our students we enjoyed feasts of the streetfood that this vibrant city is so famous for.

Manju Appathurai filming an interview at Fur KIds Farm

Manju Appathurai filming an interview at Fur KIds Farm

After the workshop, two of the participants invited me to visit their project, and you can listen to an interview soon with Manju Appathurai and Dennis Lee of Fur Kids Farm, on my business and social enterprise radio show (see below for details).

Manju and Dennis, like the other workshop participants, are also making a film about their social enterprise – I’m really looking forward to it. Meanwhile there are some superb short films, made by last year’s Journalism for Social Good participants, which can be viewed here to get a further flavour of social enterprise in Malaysia.

I was struck by both the parallels and the differences between social enterprise in Malaysia and the UK. Several students commented that bandwagon-jumping by traditional businesses pretending to be social enterprises is becoming problematic in Malaysia. It’s therefore crucial for social enterprises to be able to demonstrate and prove their social impact there – as they are (or should be!) in the UK. Part of our workshop covered social impact measurement.

Students also raised the issues of structure and governance: some were envious that in the UK we have accepted structures such as community interest companies which provide transparency that an organisation is constituted as a social enterprise.

And several felt that social enterprises aren’t yet accepted or understood in Malaysia: that they are dealing with a lack of awareness or perception of social enterprises and that people are confused by the concept of business for good. This, of course, is being addressed thanks to the Journalism for Social Good Programme of The British Council, through which we ran this workshop.

Things are changing fast, and as public perception of social enterprises increases, government support is developing too. Our trip coincided (accidentally!) with a Malaysian Government-organised three-day event – the International Conference for Young Leaders – with the theme Changing Communities through Social Entrepreneurship.

During this event Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak called for more young people to venture into social entrepreneurship:

“I believe that given the opportunity, young people with the desire to change the world will use the social business model to have deep positive and lasting impacts on social and environmental issues.

“We need more outstanding young Malaysians who have the initiative, perseverance and a sense of idealism who are roles models to look up to, and to encourage more social entrepreneurs to come forward.”
It’s going to be fascinating to watch how Malaysia’s Government follows through from this positive announcement.

On BFM - independent radio in Malaysia - with presenter Maya Tan Abdullah, recording 2 interviews about social enterprise, impact measurement, strategy, and communications and marketing

On BFM radio in Malaysia with presenter Maya Tan, recording 2 interviews about social enterprise, impact measurement, strategy, and communications and marketing

During the trip I was also interviewed by BFM – Malaysia’s only independent radio station – for two radio programmes: one covering social enterprise finance, fundraising, and social impact measurement; and one specifically about marketing for social enterprises.

Presenter Maya Tan quizzed me for BFM Enterprise’s Resource Centre, described on their website as “Where industry experts, business owners and hands-on entrepreneurs compare useful notes on conceptualizing, creating, managing, and growing their businesses. The signature show of BFM features the interviews that equip the enterprise to boldly go forth and prosper” and the podcast of the first interview is here.

On the subject of radio: on my own radio show, Business Live on Sheffield Live radio (93.2 FM and online), the 3rd April programme featured two interviews with social enterprises in Malaysia which were recorded during this trip. You can listen to the two interviews here:

Nisha Firdaus of Ecocentric Transitions:


Manju Appathurai of Fur Kids Farm:


I’ll be watching with great interest the progress of the social entrepreneurs we worked with and met on the trip. We made our delegates work hard on this workshop – and they made us work hard too! And if social enterprise isn’t as widely known, at the moment, in Malaysia as in the UK, then that is changing – and changing fast.

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