Be the Catalyst for Sustainability

by Kim Lim

At this moment that I type, there are approximately 65 million people displaced around the world due to war and persecutions which is of no fault of their own and we’ve come to call them refugees. In Malaysia alone, there are 154,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers. Considering a population of 30 million and the fact that there are countless others who are not registered, this is not a number you can ignore.

Among these are the ones who are part of the Picha family, around 60. Just a small number, but a number that will be growing as the refugee crisis worsens in our country. They are among those who fled their country in search of a safe place to simply survive. Although Malaysia is only a transit point, it takes an average of 8-10 years for resettlement to happen, if at all. As one of my dear refugee friend described it, “a life on PAUSE”.

2 years ago, myself , Swee Lin and Suzanne were volunteering in a refugee learning centre without any clue as to the magnitude of this crisis. We only saw a glimpse of its ugly head when we realized the children couldn’t afford to go to school. It was unthinkable. But it was enough to get our attention which led us to understand that this wasn’t a small isolated incident, but something much larger that needed urgent attention. It was during this time we founded The Picha Project to address the cycle of poverty that was threatening the education of children and the livelihood of families. It was most definitely a challenging task we had set out to do. We worked extremely hard for these families, and sure, for ourselves too. To prove that a sustainable solution existed despite working against all odds with such a vulnerable community.

Along our journey, we were fortunate enough to find people and corporations who understood our vision, who saw the possibilities in Picha, who believed in us, which in turn gave us a boost to never give up on what we were trying to achieve. And this January,  we won the national title for Chivas Venture. This means, we will be pitching our venture from Malaysia on a global stage in Amsterdam this May to show that sustainable solutions exist for world-scale problems such as the refugee crisis. A golden opportunity was given to us, to learn at the Skoll Center in Oxford in collaboration with Chivas Regal in an intensive social entrepreneurship course and to be present internationally.

Now, this is where YOU come in. There is a pot of USD 1 Million to be distributed in this global competition.  In 2 days time, the voting for us to get a share of USD 200,000 to scale and grow our business opens.

The higher the votes, the bigger the slice of the pie.

To Picha, this is something really really important. While we work to present and prove our concept and business in Amsterdam for a share of the remaining USD 800,000 , every single one of your vote counts in helping us make a deeper impact to the community around us. This is your chance to be part of a larger cause Picha is working on, to bring our society and community forward. And we believe that together, we can make this happen.

With what we get from the share of prize money, these are the core activities Picha will be investing in:

1. Research & Development for non perishable products.

We are looking to swiftly expand our range of non-perishable products. Despite having two on the shelves (Dry Sambal & Pichacotti), we know that our families are capable of so much more. However the right research and tests are required to bring more complicated items to market (i.e. liquid based sauces,  frozen goods) and these require a tremendous amount of resources. Your vote, your ONE click, will allow us to channel funds into the R&D required to bring these delicious products to market and simultaneously bringing in new revenue streams for the existing families and to bring more families into Picha.

2. Community Outreach through Picha Kiosks.

We have been asked a lot of times to open restaurants, centralized kitchens and as much as we would love to do it, we believe that it will not be cost effective. The goal in Picha is to make sure that resources are used to achieve maximum impact while connecting to as many Picha Heroes as possible. This is where the Picha Kiosks come in.

Imagine a kiosk in your company’s lobby and shopping centers. This would allow Picha to be more accessible and to create more jobs and training opportunities for those that need it. While we train them to manage a booth/kiosk, they will be learning about customer service, management, finance which empowers the less fortunate to stand on their own feet. Not only that, this way we will be able to grow Picha to serve more communities and families around us.

3. Creating an effective operating system.

For a team to be able to reach its potential, an effective system has to be in place. In a book I read once, it said that creating and managing systems in a company is far more important than managing people. Sure, that sounds slightly controversial…but it made sense. When the systems in place work effectively, it will enable people to naturally live up to their fullest potential.

Having families situated in different areas of the map is another crucial reason we need an effective system in place urgently.  Without this, a lot of our operations will be exposed to human error, plagues by inefficiencies which in turn will affect the quality of our service to Picha Heroes. Effective systems will also make the experience of our customers that much better and seamless when interacting with us.

Without well functioning system in place, it would be impossible to scale to a level we know is possible. A place where the team can work on areas which will bring a larger impact to our communities and bring in new families onboard easily. Now, imagine this being replicated to different cities and countries. And this is why we need your vote, your ONE CLICK to help us create a larger impact in the world.

4. To be the face of a sustainable solution for an URGENT humanitarian crisis.

We believe that Picha’s framework can be a proven sustainable solution for many other vulnerable communities in need of a voice across the globe. The refugee crisis has been going on for far too many years, and as each day goes by, the conflict is getting more intense. 65 million refugees, is a number which is DOUBLE the population of our country and this worries us immensely. It haunts us to know that many of these people have had their dignity and voice stripped away and it’s about time we came together to give it back to them.

For a very long time, there were many solutions created to assist or alleviate these issues, but we truly believe that Picha can be far more effective and sustainable. It allows for an inclusive economy and society to take place, teaching us to share our resources, talents and wealth together with those in need, without losing anything on our end.

Photo Credit: Chivas Venture

Dear Picha Heroes,

allow us to make Malaysia proud, to put our talents on the world map, proving to people that we are a country of true warmth and love, embracing everyone and choosing to go through the ups and downs with those who need it the most. One of our families shared during an open house session that “true love is not easy, because it means going through troubles and hard times together. But, it is not impossible either”.

Picha looks to embody these words as it is the foundation that we are built upon.

I promise that I will strive to present my very best in Amsterdam this May to give refugees a voice at an international stage. Will you join me and my team to make these goals a reality?

Voting starts HERE on 4th April (Wednesday) - share it with your friends & family too!

1 Comment

  1. 1
    Chua Chai Ping

    Go for it!