Turning the unbankable into bankable

Shahril Azuar Jimin speaks at length about Maybank Foundation’s R.I.S.E.

29 Nov 2019 / 10:56 H.

ONE of the key flagship programmes of Maybank Foundation, the Reach Independence and Sustainable Entrepreneurship (R.I.S.E.) recently saw its second phase launched at the end of September. Since its conception in 2014, the economic empowerment programme sought to support those from disadvantaged communities within Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos and the Philippines.

Now expanded to Myanmar and Singapore, R.I.S.E. 2.0 is expected to further improve the lives of more than 17,000 communities by 2023. But Maybank Foundation CEO Shahril Azuar Jimin (pix) stresses that compared to other programmes, R.I.S.E. does not give out money in any form.

“We don’t want to give them money even to start their business. The idea is capacity building through the three days of training and six months mentorship, where they are built up so that they are able to become independent and stable enough to apply for financial facilities,” he said.

“This is us giving them the fishing rod.”

Looking at the gaps and what could be done to positively impact the communities in a way that would create the most difference, the Maybank Foundation saw that there was a lack of opportunities for the disabled in the region.

The initial programme was then developed on the premise that participants had to work hard and change their lives based on their own perseverance.

“The three-day training is not simply a motivation camp but also teaches aspects such as business strategies, marketing, customer value proposition, Blue Ocean Strategy and even internet marketing,” Shahril elaborated.

What truly differentiates R.I.S.E. from other entrepreneurship programmes is the mentoring period that goes up to six months. It is done individually for each of the participants by a consultancy partner and local Maybank units.

“This is key because often people will drop out. We sensed this from other entrepreneurship programmes, that they don’t last long. This mentoring process ensures that longevity. Finally, we have validation at every stage of R.I.S.E.”

Reaping the harvest

In R.I.S.E., the Maybank Foundation wants to ensure quick income increase. According to Shahril, if the programme only sees an income increase after three to four years, they suspect that interest will wane. Thus they expect to see significant increases in income after three months, which has become a KPI for this programme.

“After three months, the top 40% of our participants must experience an increase in their monthly income by 100%. After the first phase of R.I.S.E., we saw that the top 40% out of our 6,358 participants experienced an income increase in 390% per person, while those below showed encouraging numbers as well, with an increase of 149%,” he said.

Out of the four countries in the first R.I.S.E., it was reported that the Philippines did the best, charting an impressive 646% income increase within the top 40% of participants.

In Malaysia, Afiq Barni who became physically disabled due to an accident, saw a monumental increase in income after completing the R.I.S.E. programme, from RM3,000 to RM20,000 as he transitioned into designing automobile parts for the disabled as a business.

Including more countries

With R.I.S.E. 2.0, the programme is now effectively running across six countries. Questioned on whether the programmes are different in each country, Shahril explained that the challenges faced by their target audience is largely uniform.

“Our communities are mostly the same, with a few differences here and there. The methodology of the programme that we roll out is the same. The only customisation is the language and how the trainers teach the participants, along with the modules and documents.

“It’s a big investment for Maybank as well. It directly supports the aspiration of the group and for Maybank Foundation to positively impact communities in the markets that Maybank operates in.” Shahril explains that the foundation has seen the improvement experienced by those that go through the programme, where results go beyond merely changing their lives.

“The words that keep coming up are ‘self-worth’ and ‘dignity’. For us at Maybank and for me personally, it has been a humbling and enriching experience, especially when you see people who are struggling to survive. What we’re doing is very much an extension of Maybank’s mission. We’re not going to get rich off this, but it has certainly enriched us.”

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