Community | SEWF Events

Discover the Sabah Creative Economy & Innovation Centre (SCENIC) Community Hub in Malaysia

by Kasia Kotlarska / July 2023

“The Community Hub is not just about knowledge sharing and networking; it is also about fostering a sense of community, celebration and appreciation”. 

Sabah Creative Economy & Innovation Centre is an initiative that was approved by the cabinet of Sabah in August 2019 and aimed to accelerate industries in Sabah through entrepreneurship, technology, innovation and creativity. In this interview, they share the creative ideas and plans they have for a highly impactful Community Hub in 2023 

What was the “aha!” moment that inspired you to host a Community Hub?

The “aha!” moment that inspired me to host a Community Hub occurred during my time studying in Scotland and immersing myself in the vibrant social enterprise ecosystem there. It was a transformative experience that opened my eyes to the immense potential and impact of social entrepreneurship on both local and global scales. Witnessing the power of collaboration, innovative approaches and the positive change generated by social enterprises, I felt a strong urge to bring this knowledge and inspiration back to my home country. Hosting the Community Hub serves as a catalyst for connecting our local social enterprises with the global community. It is a platform where ideas, knowledge and best practices are shared, enabling our social entrepreneurs to learn from global leaders and experts in the field. SEWF also attracts potential investors who are seeking impactful ventures to support and collaborate with. By showcasing the incredible work of our local social enterprises, we aim to create opportunities for investment, collaboration and scaling up their initiatives.  

In terms of social problems, what are some pressing issues that you aim to address through your Community Hub? 

Some of the pressing issues that I aim to address through the Community Hub panel discussions are poverty and talent building in Sabah. These two aspects are interconnected and pose significant challenges to our ecosystem. Firstly, poverty is a persistent issue in Sabah, particularly in rural areas. By establishing the Community Hub, we can create opportunities for social enterprises to develop innovative solutions that directly target poverty alleviation. Through collaborations and partnerships, we can support initiatives that provide sustainable livelihoods, access to essential services and economic empowerment for marginalised communities. By focusing on poverty reduction, we aim to create a more inclusive and equitable society in Sabah. 

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Image shows a group of women in traditional clothing in front of Dumowongi herb standSecondly, talent building is crucial for the growth and sustainability of our social enterprise ecosystem. Sabah possesses a wealth of untapped potential and by nurturing local talent, we can unlock opportunities for individuals to become social entrepreneurs and changemakers. The Community Hub will provide training, mentorship and capacity-building programmes to equip aspiring entrepreneurs with the necessary skills and knowledge. By nurturing a pipeline of talented individuals, we can catalyse the growth of social enterprises and drive positive social impact across various sectors. Sabah has been home to numerous social enterprises for many years, but unfortunately, they have not recognised themselves as such and have not received proper guidance on how to excel in their work and create a greater impact. As a state government entity, SCENIC has taken the initiative to collaborate with as many organizations as possible since 2020 to support our social enterprises.

Currently, we have around 80 social enterprises in Sabah and our goal is to continue expanding this number. We are delighted to share that our previous endeavour, the SE Summit 2022 organized by SCENIC and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation Sabah, was a resounding success. It was a remarkable event where we had the privilege of hosting Professor Yunus as the keynote speaker, Founder of Grameen Bank, a Nobel Laurette Prize Winner who shared his invaluable insights and wisdom with the audience. The summit garnered significant support from numerous individuals and organizations, further fueling our passion and dedication to the social enterprise movement. Building upon the achievements of the SE Summit, we are excited to announce the upcoming SEWF Community Hub. This initiative aims to amplify our impact and create lasting change in the social enterprise ecosystem. The SEWF Community Hub will serve as a vibrant platform for collaboration, knowledge-sharing and empowerment. It will bring together a diverse range of stakeholders, including social entrepreneurs, government agencies, corporates, NGOs, impact investors, and individuals who are passionate about making a difference. The latest one, through the Community Hub, aims to address these pressing issues and foster a vibrant ecosystem where social enterprises can thrive, create sustainable solutions and contribute to the overall development of Sabah. By focusing on poverty alleviation and talent building, we envision a future where communities are empowered, inequalities are reduced and inclusive economic growth is achieved.  

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How can people support your Community Hub?  

We are driven by a strong desire to make the Community Hub inclusive and representative of the entire social enterprise ecosystem in Malaysia, encompassing both Peninsula Malaysia and the states of Sabah and Sarawak. Our vision is to bring together diverse stakeholders who share a common goal of driving positive social change and economic empowerment. In our efforts to foster inclusivity, we extend invitations not only to government agencies but also to corporates, NGOs, social enterprises, impact investors and even individuals who are passionate about making a difference. We believe that collaboration across sectors is crucial in addressing complex social and environmental challenges effectively. By creating a platform that welcomes all stakeholders, we aim to facilitate meaningful connections, knowledge sharing and collaboration. 

Government agencies can provide policy support and resources, while corporates can contribute their expertise, networks and financial backing. NGOs play a crucial role in driving grassroots initiatives and community engagement, while social enterprises bring innovative solutions to the forefront. Impact investors bring vital funding and mentorship opportunities, while individuals can contribute their unique skills, ideas and support. We invite everyone to express their interest in being part of this transformative initiative. Once you express your interest, our team will reach out to you to discuss how you can contribute to and participate in the upcoming event. Whether it’s through sponsorship, partnership, speaking opportunities, or volunteering, we welcome your involvement in shaping the future of social entrepreneurship in Malaysia. 

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Any other exciting plans or surprises you have that you want people to keep an eye out for?  

An image shows weaved baskets full of various productsThe Community Hub in Kota Kinabalu promises to be an exciting and enriching event, filled with a plethora of plans and surprises. Beyond the engaging discussions and insightful sessions on social entrepreneurship from the local context, attendees can look forward to a range of fun activities and special highlights. One of the highlights of the event is the opportunity to participate in exciting lucky draws. Attendees will have the chance to win exciting prizes and experiences that have been generously sponsored by our partners and supporters. These lucky draws add an element of excitement and anticipation, making the event even more memorable for participants. Additionally, we will be hosting the Kinabalu SE Award, a special recognition ceremony to honour and appreciate the outstanding players who have made significant contributions to the growth and development of the social enterprise ecosystem in Sabah collectively. This prestigious award acknowledges the tireless efforts, innovative solutions and impactful initiatives undertaken by individuals and organisations in driving positive social change. It is a moment to celebrate their achievements and inspire others to continue making a difference. The Community Hub is not just about knowledge sharing and networking; it is also about fostering a sense of community, celebration, and appreciation. Through these fun activities and special highlights, we aim to create an engaging and memorable experience for all attendees, leaving them inspired, motivated and connected. 

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If you’re unable to attend SEWF23 in-person or online, you can find a Community Hub closest to you and join the local conversations with inspiring changemakers and social entrepreneurs.