From tea to takeaways, has SE Asia lost its appetite for business that does good?
When Malaysian entrepreneur Majidah Hashim quit her corporate job and set up a business two years ago helping people with autism make handcrafted teas with local herbs and flowers, the government stepped in to assist.
Majidah was one of dozens of social entrepreneurs who received grants from Malaysia’s government as part of a 2015 national plan to boost the number of businesses with a mission to help people or the environment to 1,000 by 2018 from 100.
This assistance let her get SevenTeaOne up and running, one of many social enterprises started in Malaysia in recent years. The country was ranked the ninth best country to be a social entrepreneur in a 2016 poll of 45 nations conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and funded by Deutsche Bank.
But Majidah said the help was short-lived, fuelling concerns in Malaysia as well as elsewhere in Southeast Asia that official encouragement of the sector was stumbling as businesses were found to need more guidance and time than expected to succeed.
Photo courtesy of Adam Rozanas.