Growing one’s own business can be on some occasions frustrating and volatile. However, helping hundreds and thousands of marginalised people grow their business is the farthest from frustrating says Raymond Dinesh Gabriel, Co-Founder and Executive Director of People Systems Consultancy.
"I wouldn’t say it’s stressful but it does require a lot of sacrifice."
The social enterprise, based out of Petaling Jaya, partners with corporates, governments and NGOs to come up with specialised entrepreneurship and training programmes to help empower marginalised communities in Southeast Asia. To date, it has trained 17,000 participants across the region through a network of 50 mentors in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Manila and Jakarta.
"We have a team of mentors that go above and beyond. For them, it’s not just a 9-to-5 job where they call you and give you a set of responses.”
“The mentors are fully invested and take personal responsibilities for the participants that we train. So, sometimes, it takes a bit of tough love to get the job done,” says Gabriel.
We are a social enterprise that helps improve the incomes of people who come from difficult backgrounds, people with disabilities, people from poor villages or single mothers
“We are a social enterprise that helps improve the incomes of people who come from difficult backgrounds, people with disabilities, people from poor villages or single mothers who don’t have an income.”
“That segment of society that are struggling. We look at intervening and raising their incomes through a three-day entrepreneurship programme which we then monitor for the next six months.”
According to Gabriel, some of the participants have managed to hit RM20,000 monthly income after joining the programme.
“For instance, we’ve trained some participants sewing kills, but their passion is actually cooking."
“It’s about finding your niche, that thing you’re passionate about. With that, you can do well. Participants need to believe in themselves. That’s how you can start something amazing and a sustainable income will soon follow,” Gabriel adds.
People Systems Consultancy does not provide funding to its participants as its programme's main objectives are to support and help grow the participants' own abilities.
“We believe that the practicality of our programs are much more beneficial for the start-ups. We try to save the government money by excluding the microloan element.”
“By doing so, this will reduce a lot of wasted money and non-performing loans that people aren’t able to pay back.”
We believe that the practicality of our programs are much more beneficial for the start-ups. We try to save the government money by excluding the microloan element
“The process of empowering the people from difficult backgrounds and working with what they have and loans can be arranged much later on if necessary,” says Gabriel.
People Systems Consultancy has teamed up with major corporates like Maybank, Petronas, Microsoft Malaysia and Bursa as well as the Women's Development Department looking to carry out corporate social responsibility initiatives.
One of their biggest programmes is with Maybank Foundation called R.I.S.E, which stands for Reach Independence and Sustainable Entrepreneurship. The programme, which started in Malaysia in September 2014, has expanded to Indonesia and the Philippines.
Gabriel says its programmes are designed to suit the cultural and social needs of each location.
“We’ve designed each program differently because when you go to Indonesia or Philippines, there’s a different set of challenges.”
“The staff that we have working for us are full time trainers. They are an amazing bunch of people who are very passionate about helping people. We don’t look at this as a job or say 'We are done for the day after 5pm'.”
“I have mentors staying back in the office, coaching people late into the night. They are not paid to do that but they choose to motivate our participants to make a difference in their lives,” says Gabriel.
He shares that the training process can get a little heart-wrenching at times; some of its participants with disabilities have passed away in the midst of training.
“That can actually bring a mentor down because you’ve got this great inspiring relationship and just when you see them do well for themselves, they pass away because of health issues. That can be quite depressing for our mentors.”