How Social Entrepreneur John-Son Oei Is Helping Orang Asli Beyond Building Sustainable Homes
Marginalised communities have been largely neglected in terms of infrastructure, healthcare and education, with thousands of families living in unsafe housing conditions. Founder and CEO of EPIC Collective John-Son Oei states that building homes only solves one piece of the puzzle. So other than putting a roof over their heads, EPIC is helping the Orang Asli attain higher-value jobs that they typically wouldn’t have access to. In partnership with other experts and NGOs, they’re also looking at self-sustainability mainly in terms of food security to help the indigenous save money and at the same time guarantee the nutrients they need on a daily basis.
During the pandemic, their online platform Sedunia hosted vital activities like fundraising and volunteerism, raising more than RM2 million. Volunteers of EPIC have even started their own social enterprises like Native and The Asli Co to expose more people to the indigenous lifestyle and provide them with supplementary income to help mothers and children. “I hope people don’t shrink back in fear as jobs are being lost and businesses are closing. At the end of the day, everybody still has resources to share, and the worst thing we can do at this point in time is to try to save for a rainy day, because this is the rainy day,” Oei adds.
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