Due to the rise of the deadly Coronavirus, it has become mandatory to wear a mask. Meanwhile, sanitizing remains the best weapon to fight COVID and social distancing has become a safety net (i.e. staying at home – the best place you can avoid contact).
$10 a mask, $10 a sanitizer = $20 to prevent COVID
How do politicians expect 10% of the global population living on $2 a day to avoid death?
How do manufacturers not feel any guilt when raising the mark-up on masks and sanitizers, when they are letting half of their staff go and be part of the poverty cycle?
This is a global tragedy.
“Sometimes in tragedy, we find our life’s purpose”Tiny Buddha
This is the story of how this “global tragedy” will become a cease.
This is the story of Shy Kit Wong, founder of the life-changing company: SERUM.
STORY OF SHY KIT WONG & SERUM
Other than pursuing postgraduate studies in Solar Engineering, Shy Kit Wong is actively involved in the social impact scene. His involvement in the non-profit scene includes being the COO of Nation Building School, a youth-led NGO that focuses on youth empowerment and civic engagement; and Co-Director of Impact & Research of The Malaysian SOCIAL Project, a pro-bono consulting organization for the third sector.
During the on-set of the COVID-19 outbreak, Shy Kit founded a social enterprise called SERUM that provides hand sanitizers and face masks to the underserved communities such as refugees and the urban poor. Now, SERUM has transitioned into the Buy&Impact model, which will now be selling impact-driven products such as reusable face masks that are made by the refugee artisans.
With each purchase, SERUM provides 3 layers of impact:
- Economic empowerment for the refugee artisan
- Health impact for other communities as for every 2 face masks sold, 1 is provided to those in need
- Environmental impact by reducing waste from using disposable face masks
The drive for SERUM was fueled by the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 and how hand sanitizers and face masks became a daily necessity overnight. While many of us might be privileged enough to have sufficient supplies, there are several underserved communities that do not have adequate access to these supplies due to logistical and financial barriers. The inaccessibility of healthcare supplies among underserved communities such as the urban & rural poor and refugees causes a risk of COVID-19 outspread within a dense population. Also, many have lost their source of income and they do not have the necessary PPE to comply with the SOP set to allow the education and working centers to be reopened.
SERUM believes that no one should be left out in the equation, and everyone should have an equal chance of preventing COVID-19 outspread. To date, SERUM has impacted almost 3,000 beneficiaries (ranging from refugees to urban poor, rural poor, single mother, and OKU), provided 8,710 disposable face masks, 950 reusable face masks, and over 274L of hand sanitizers. This also helped reopen six working centers and three learning centers for the refugee children. WOW!
To achieve such an incredible accomplishment, while making a remarkable impact – there were, indeed, many challenges. For SERUM, there was a lack of awareness among the public towards the dire situation that the communities are facing. Also, SERUM is currently facing a bottleneck of resources (both financial and manpower related) to scale its business to the next phase. SERUM is hoping to connect with the right stakeholders to work together!
As a student entrepreneur, one of the biggest challenges faced by many is time management – finding the correct balance between your venture and studies.
Shy Kit is obsessed with productivity and ways to hack through processes. He genuinely believes that there is always a way to balance studies and non-academic ventures. He has a daily practice where he starts off his day by planning out the tasks he would need to finish for the day to call it a successful day; and he also outlines the weekly milestones he aims to achieve. With these simple practices, Shy Kit believes that he can maximize his day’s worth with the optimum output. If he can do it, so can you!
An entrepreneur’s worry for bringing in a new venture into the world is, “What will the people think?” As a young social entrepreneur, Shy Kit received lots of encouraging words & high expectations during the start of his SERUM journey. The establishment of the first phase of the scale was great, but when it came to the scale upstages that require more resources, SERUM started facing some bottlenecks and hesitation from other stakeholders. Nonetheless, SERUM is hopeful and is open to working with any stakeholders that are passionate about making a sustainable and transparent impact together.
“It requires a lot of courage and confidence to embark on something like this.”Shy Kit Wong
This “courage” and “confidence”, Shy Kit speaks of, is cultivated through the people around him, ranging from family to friends and colleagues, who are not only supportive of his venture but also act as an inspiration to him for doing more every day.
When one embarks on the entrepreneurial journey – change occurs. The way you think, act, and view the world – all change. By becoming a social entrepreneur, Shy Kit had the chance to meet remarkable people who are equally passionate about making positive changes in the world, and he even had the chance to work with some of them together. Shy Kit believes he is constantly undergoing massive growth every day, making a larger and larger socio-environmental impact.
EXCLUSIVE TIPS FOR WANNABE ENTREPRENEURS
Age is just a number!
“Start small and stay greedy. It is not necessary for students to start something of their own from scratch if they feel like they do not have the right idea, experience, and resources yet. Take small steps by joining initiatives or organizations that are led by people who are an inspiration to you. Taking the first step is always the hardest, but if you find the right path that you are willing to commit to it, the growth curve is unimaginable!”
MOTIVATION – THE KEY TO START OR STOP THE ENGINE – WHAT KEEPS SHY KIT WONG MOTIVATED?
“The real impact that we are creating on-the-ground. Seeing the refugee children’s happy faces, receiving appreciation from the refugee artisan, knowing that we are keeping more and more people safe each day – these are the major reasons that keep me excited and loving what I do every day.”
The biggest lesson I learned through this process is…
“I always keep myself away from the saying ‘work smart, don’t work hard’; instead, I hold on to the concept of ‘work smart AND work hard’. Be greedy and strive for both of the elements, and you will definitely land somewhere far ahead from where you are now.”
The plan for SERUM’s future…
“We are hoping to scale up, both our financial performance and socio-environmental impact by establishing SERUM as a platform for the Buy&Impact model, where every purchase made via SERUM has a clear and transparent impact associated with it.”
Connect with Shy Kit Wong HERE!
10 % of the global population lives on $2 a day – the average cost of a meal is $4. In 2016, it has been reported that over 63 million children, aged 6-11 years, were not attending school. 8.9% of the global population is still practicing open defecation (this is doing your “business” that you would do in a toilet in an outside environment – this causes your food and water sources to be contaminated with human feces, further increasing the risk of disease). This is the world we live in. How great?!
Be like Shy Kit Wong – when the world suffers, put on your superhero cape and fly high! You can do it!