Incitement is the implementing agency for the Volunteering International Professionals (VIP) Fellowship Programme 2017, a National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) project monitored and overseen by the National Strategy Unit (NSU) of the Malaysian Ministry of Finance. More information about this collaboration between Incitement and the Malaysian Ministry of Finance can be found here.
The VIP Fellowship programme took place from August 19th till December 17th 2017. During these 4 months, a total of 10 social impact projects were implemented with the help of 50 international professional volunteers, touching the lives of 12,840 beneficiaries.
This is Impact Project 2: F2O (From Orang Asli to Orang Asli)
This project provided vocational- and entrepreneurship training to the Orang Asli community, allowing them to create a self-sustaining farming-, agriculture-, eco-tourism-, and welding business together with the business professionals of VIVA F2O.
Project location: Pahang, Malaysia (Kampung Chempian, Kampung Rensung & Kampung Ulu Ruai)
Host organisation: Viva Odyssey
Impact area: Community Empowerment
Key project outcomes
- 560 villagers impacted
- Participating villagers benefited from a 70% income increase on average
- 120 villagers graduated as a professional welder
- 6 partnerships with relevant organisations were established
- 3 training modules were created
The key problems Viva Odyssey’s project aimed to solve were the sustainability, resilience, and overall livelihood of the Orang Asli communities in Kampung Chempian, Rensung and Ulu Ruai, in Pahang, Malaysia. The beneficiaries of the F2O project were both male and female between the ages of 15 and 30 years, who were mostly school dropouts, and worked in the jungle collecting rattan, bananas, and other raw produce. Their income was far below average because they did not supply to consumers directly, but rather to a “middleman” who sold the products at high profits, often only to neglect the effort and diminishing resources of the Orang Asli people.
F2O instilled entrepreneurial zeal and know-how in the Orang Asli people via its training programmes, so that the middleman can be cut out, for the Orang Asli themselves to be able to benefit directly and earn a higher income. F2O aimed to solve the following social issues with the help of the VIP 2017 Fellows:
- The young people in this community have less opportunity due to being illiterate, mainly because the rate of dropping out of school is very high.
- There are many young adults who are jobless and have no means to earn a living to sustain their family expenditures.
- The villagers have to go through a middle man to buy vegetables and fruits.
- Monthly income for Orang Asli families is generally very low.
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One of Viva Odyssey’s projects, the project adopted by the VIP 2017 Fellowship Programme, is called F2O, which stands for ‘From Orang Asli to Orang Asli’. F2O implements a wide variety of approaches and methods to improve the overall livelihood of the different Orang Asli communities in the state of Pahang.
The Orang Asli people are the indigenous people and the oldest inhabitants of Malaysia. There are an estimated 178,000 (2012)* Orang Asli living in various parts of Peninsular Malaysia, representing 0.84% of the Malaysian population.
F2O’s overall goal was to provide better job opportunities and a higher income for the Orang Asli families. Currently, most households can barely sustain themselves via employment on the plantations by collecting rattan, bananas, palm and other raw produce. Most of their trading is done via third-party vendors. As a result, the Orang Asli are often forced to sell their products at a bare minimum rate, so that these “middlemen” can maximise their own profit. This leaves the Orang Asli with little to no income to survive.
An essential part of F2O’s social impact framework was built around vocational- and entrepreneurship training to foster the creation of a self-sustaining farming, agriculture, eco-tourism and welding business among the Orang Asli community. With the business professionals of F2O training the Orang Asli on how to do the work of the middlemen themselves, they were subsequently empowered to cut the middleman out of the supply chain, resulting in a healthier and happier work environment and an overall increase of sustainable income and livelihood.
With the help and support of F2O and the VIP Fellows, three Orang Asli communities, with a combined total of eighty households (560 individuals), now have better prospects and outlook on life and their future for generations to come. Weekly check-ins by the Fellows and a monthly assessment using F2O’s in-house framework measured the growth of each household’s income, to ensure that the goal of increasing their income by 70% was met. In the end, the Fellows managed to double this number, with thirty-seven individuals receiving job placements, resulting in an expected income increase of 150%.
Yes, it’s about job creation, but it has to be as per the interest of the community itself. If they are not excited about what they are going to work on, it won’t be sustainable.
Vocational- and entrepreneurship training, with comprehensive modules designed by the VIP Fellows, equipped the Orang Asli with the much needed skills to market and sell their produce on their own, without involvement of a middleman. However, there were many more ways that could help towards creating better livelihoods for this community. F2O provided a wide variety of solutions and methodologies to achieve this. The first being aquaponics.
By employing the villagers in the aquaponics farm, they acquired the experience and know- how to grow their own produce faster and at lower cost, while occupying significantly less space. A big benefit of this is that the villagers no longer had to rely on the forest to grow their products. With this kind of experience and skills, from both an agricultural aspect and an entrepreneurial- and vocational aspect, the villagers became well-equipped to build their own businesses.
The key is to create exposure to the world outside their community. This way they see that better education leads to higher income, inspiring them to pursue the same.
In order to increase income and provide job placement opportunities for the three villages, F2O provided a variety of trainings based on the personal interests of the community. However, one approach could not be applied to all eighty households since individuals have different skills and aspirations: not everyone wanted to become entrepreneurs or farmers.
“Yes, it’s about job creation, but it has to be as per the interest of the community itself. If they are not excited about what they are going to work on, it won’t be sustainable”, international Fellow Pabitra Basnet from Nepal explains.
The Fellows taught the local women to create and sell their own jewellery and handicrafts, among others. “The key is to create exposure to the world outside their community. This way they see that better education leads to higher income, inspiring them to pursue the same.”
Besides the programmes under F2O, VIVA Odyssey initiated many more activities under the VIP 2017 Programme. They planted 500 additional banana trees, opened a café and a barber shop, started a chicken farm, provided educational programmes for the children in the villages, established a one-stop medical centre, installed a water filter for the village and launched several awareness campaigns.
In total, 560 villagers from three villages participated in the F2O programme. Besides establishing a supply chain for the beneficiaries to market their fruits, vegetables and produce, the VIP Fellows equipped the villagers with intensive farming and agriculture skills, which enabled them to grow their own farm and start selling their vegetables in the market without going through a middleman. In total, five beneficiaries completed the farming- and aquaponics training and the villagers were able to harvest crops three times within a four-month timespan.
The Fellows also provided knowledge, skills and overall know- how of welding for the villagers, of which 37 individuals went on to get job placements in this industry, with sixty more trainees waiting to be employed. Their income is expected to increase with 150%, more than double the programme’s goal of 70% income increase.
By the end of this project, the VIP Fellows left with the success of building capacity for three villages by optimising the resources at their disposal, with the potential to lead the Orang Asli towards employable skills in farming, agriculture, eco-tourism, aquaponics and welding.
Learn more about the VIP 2017 Fellowship Programme: VIP.org.my