By ANGELIN YEOH
IT’S HARD to believe that Muhammad Faiz Effendi is only 22 years old, as the lad has already set his sights on improving the lives of the underserved in Malaysia through a unique social venture.
Faiz led team X-Change from Universiti Tun Abdul Razak to emerge second-runner up in the third instalment of DiGi’s Challenge for Change (C4C) programme. His team’s idea to make Malaysia a better place was to encourage youth to take up volunteering causes through his portal (x-change.com.my) and subsequently be rewarded for it.
“Our venture is different because we incentify volunteerism. For volunteers who undergo a programme that has been accredited by our company, we give incentives from our merchant partners for their volunteering hours. So we give discounts to anyone who volunteers for a cause through our venture,” said Faiz in an interview at the DiGi office in Shah Alam recently.
The inspiring idea came up during his team’s involvement in the early stages of DiGi’s C4C.
“Through our research, we found that the number of volunteers in Malaysia was low. We knew we had to do something to encourage youth to take up more volunteering opportunities.”
According to DiGi’s Associate Principal in Business Environment Management Frank Chan, the programme was introduced in 2009 as a way of connecting with Malaysian youth.
“DiGi’s C4C is our way of engaging with youth to encourage them to make a difference in society. Our primary focus is specifically to improve the lives of the underserved,” said Chan.
Chan added that the competition’s goal this year was to work with university students to create social ventures that would benefit their target group.
“It’s not just a business idea competition, it’s about working and engaging the community and coming up with an idea that is viable. They have to make sure the business is profitable and also a very good way of giving back to the community.”
Faiz applauded the DiGi’s C4C initiative to focus on youth and the impact they can have on society.
“I’m quite intrigued by the content of the programme. I believe that youths are the leaders of tomorrow and DiGi wants to create young aspiring entrepreneurs who are socially aware of what is going on in society,” he said.
DiGi’s C4C not only gave opportunities for youths to come up with ideas that will improve the livelihood of the community, it also rewards them for their enthusiasm and hard work.
“Faiz showed so much passion and he had a lot of really good thinking behind the whole process. So when we had the opportunity to sponsor a student for a programme overseas, we didn’t hesitate to have Faiz on board,” said Chan.
Out of 512 students who took part in DiGi’s C4C, Faiz was the only one chosen to attend the Stanford Bootcamp in California in May.
“I was there for about a week. It was a very unique and enjoyable experience,” said Faiz.
Through his observation of how the American education system and working culture works, Faiz believes Malaysia has the potential to develop further in terms of web technology.
“Coming from a learning mindset, I think we Malaysians have the infrastructure and mobile technology to match what they have in the United States.”
Faiz also had the opportunity to visit the Google and YouTube offices in Silicon Valley.
“I learned that most of the start-up entrepreneur culture there is organic; they don’t go through hierarchy and bureaucracy. Everything is pretty much open-ended. I believe we can also learn something from that, perhaps as a way to encourage young Malaysians to be more vocal and opinionated.”