Social Enterprises – The Malaysian Story

Social entrepreneurs are basically businessmen who change the world one step at a time. Most social enterprises that are set around the globe borders on the need for better education, poverty alleviation, health, quality of living and environment management. They are usually the not-for-profit type of organisations or have very less interest in making big profit for their own needs. Most of the time, social entrepreneurs are like social workers and they fight for a mission that they find lacking in the social system. Want to know a gist of what is happening here in Malaysia? Read on.


Strategies - Malaysian Social Enterprise

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What is it?

The name speaks for itself. Social entrepreneurs are basically those who strive to create a better society by changing the way things work, innovating ideas or programmes that will help improve the social living conditions of the targeted societies.


Do we have successful social enterprises in Malaysia?

Yes we do. Based on our research, there are close to 70 listed or registered social enterprises in the country and most of them are successfully engaged with the community. Among these are consumer-based associations, publications, social upliftment initiatives, youth engagement programmes, animal protection and environment care bodies. Some of the popular ones are:


Sols 24/7

Era Consumer Malaysia

Social Enterprise Malaysia

The Zhariff Initiative

Epic Homes

Food Aid Foundation

Dialogue in the Dark Malaysia


Centre for Orang Asli Concerns

Wild Asia

Arus Academy


The difference between NGOs and Social Enterprises

Non-governmental organisations generally have the same target groups and concepts as social enterprises but their objectives and visions generally differ. Social enterprises are basically businesses that are set up to help the community while NGOs’ are non-profit groups set up to help or run a programme that helps the community. Social enterprises generally run a business model and employs commercial strategies that will earn them some profit but they would role that profit into their cause so their programmes become self-sustaining while NGOs run on donations that are solicited from the public or their own members.


Support for social entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurs are getting noticed as more people are getting exposed to the exciting world of entrepreneurism. Perhaps, the growth of social entrepreneurism is slow given its philanthropic nature but for those interested in setting up social enterprises, there are a number of agencies that have got your back here. They include agencies like Genovasi Malaysia, myHarapan and Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre.

The government launched the Malaysian Social Enterprise Blueprint 2015-2018 last year and allocated a RM20 million funding to support initiatives by social entrepreneurs. Among the benefits that are being discussed are tax reliefs and other employment benefits.


Criteria for social entrepreneurs

Social enterprises are actually the easiest to score provided you have a well-researched working module that has a high impact on the society. Considering that many are going into F&B, retail, technology and other forms of businesses, social entrepreneurism has less competition.

A social entrepreneur should be someone resourceful and self-driven. Yes, a social entrepreneur is an agent of change but in a fast-paced world, it takes time to convince people to come together for a social cause so most of the time, a social entrepreneur is alone in his journey. A social entrepreneur also feels very strongly or is passionate about the mission that he or she is driving.

They don’t give up on their objectives or visions regardless of the challenges thrown in their path. They are also extremely adaptable and convincing as social missions deal with a tough group – both in terms of right staff and target groups of the mission.


So, if you are looking into making a change through business and are passionate about a particular area that will benefit the society tremendously, give social entrepreneurism a try. The returns stretches beyond monetary value.