Genashtim 2019
Genashtim in 2019

In a number of ways, 2019 has been a landmark year for Genashtim. We started the year inking a very significant contract with the Singapore Civil Service College, for our eCornell programme.

In February, for the first time in our 11-year history, we gathered our management team for a strategic planning session, in Kuala Lumpur. We were so blessed to have some external “hard-hitters” help us to plan the future of Genashtim:

  • Vinitha Padmanabhan, current Vice Chancellor of Saito College University, former Dean of Taylor’s University School of Business
  •  Daniel Tan, current Chief Academic Officer, INTI International University & Colleges, former Director and Associate Professor, NTU, Singapore
  • Willie Tham, Director – Bangkok Bank Malaysia. Former HSBC: Head of Commercial Banking Singapore, CEO Thailand, and COO China.

In March, we kicked off the CSR in Action – Business Impact Training, with the Singapore Business Federation. We ran 6 of these 2-day workshops during the year, which were designed to provoke small and medium-sized enterprises to think about leveraging social impact to future-proof their businesses. We had secured this contract over proposals from 3 Singaporean universities.

In May, we participated in an open tender with the Singapore Public Utility Board, to convert their physical training workshops to eLearning. In spite of being 3rd lowest among 13 bidders, the quality of our proposal and post tender presentation landed us this prestigious contract. We had an earlier contract with the Singapore Tax Academy to convert their Income Tax training to online delivery, and a small contract in 2018 to put SkillsFuture Singapore’s (SSG) on-boarding process for new employees online. Also in 2018, we created the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) – SouthEast Asia Ready Talent, for the Singapore Business Federation, which will run till at least 2020. This has 9 eLearning modules which we created from scratch. Since PCP is funded by WorkForce Singapore (WSG), we now have 4 government bodies in Singapore as our clients.

Having made such strides in eLearning conversion and migration, we launched a new Genashtim brand – Learning Digitalisation (LearningD), and created a new website for it.

Genashtim was published in 6 newspapers around the world in June. This was an international initiative for news media from around the world to focus on solutions for social, economic and civic inclusion. We were the only company featured in South East Asia, and published in the Straits Times. We made the news in Singapore again in October, in The Business Times.

Also in June, our CEO Thomas Ng was on one of the panels at the Asian Venture Philanthropic Network (AVPN) Conference in Singapore. Thomas had quite a number of speaking engagements during the year, including the DBS SME Academy, the Intech Conference in Penang, and the Temasek Shophouse in Singapore in October. In November he was keynote speaker at E-Nation Symposium in Kuala Lumpur with an audience in excess of 1,000. In early December, he was invited by the Indonesian Government to be on the Inclusive Economy Panel at the 12th Bali Democracy Forum. On the same panel were 3 Indonesian unicorns, and Indonesia’s largest bank.

With a twist of fate, we hosted the B Lab Global Partner Assembly in November. This was originally scheduled for Hong Kong, but had to be moved to Singapore due to the unrest in Hong Kong. We had hardly been B Market Builder (representing the B Corp movement) for Malaysia and Singapore for a year.

It was a bit of a challenge with short notice, to look after more than 70 participants from around the world, including the co-founders of B Lab Bart Houlahan and Andrew Kassoy. But we did manage to pull it off.

We also signed a partnership agreement with MaGIC, which is under the Ministry for Entrepreneurial Development to promote B Corp certification in Malaysia. And for the fourth consecutive year, Genashtim made it to the ranks of Best-for-the-World among B Corps.

During the year, we took steps to move towards GDPR compliance. This was prompted by our long-term client, the Chapman Consulting Group. As a leading global recruitment company, their clients demanded this from them. We are so fortunate to have clients who push us to the next level in professionalism. The biggest step that we took in this direction was moving to the Microsoft Exchange platform.

Whilst technology remains a key part of Genashtim’s DNA, the core of what we do is about our people. In March 2018, 90% of our 70 employees were People with Disabilities (PwD). Since then, we started providing internships for the Middle Eastern refugees in Indonesia. In February this year, working with Hire.Seniors, we started hiring energetic and enthusiastic retirees, who come with a wealth of corporate experience.

Among our PwD are the very severely disabled. Therese Saranza in Cebu, Philippines not only cannot move anything below her neck – she cannot breathe on her own, and depends on a ventilator 24/7. Nadia Saidi, who is Executive Assistant to our Founder and CEO, can move only the tip of one finger of one hand – nothing else below her neck. Our Marketing Manager Kim Soon works lying in bed on his side, with limited use of only one hand. Another one of our Department Managers Raj Selvaraj is totally paralysed from the neck down.

As we approach the end of 2019, we have more than 100 staff on our payroll, of which 60% are PwD, 25% refugees, and 5% are aged between 60 and 70. Of the 8 Department Managers in Genashtim, 6 are PwD (2 are totally blind), 2 are LGTBQ and 50% are women.

Moving forward we have started working with The Womanity Foundation in Switzerland’s Girls Can Code programme. We are in the process of taking on Afghan school leavers as interns. We have also started discussions with a foundation in Manila looking after girls rescued from the sex trade. We hope to set up a modest shelter for these girls to live, and train them to work online. As of now, women already make up more than 50% of our headcount, and if these latest initiatives should take root, Genashtim will become a woman-dominant company.

Most of the Middle Eastern refugees in Indonesia have little to no chance of being resettled. There have been a few of our interns from there who were resettled in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. What they were doing for Genashtim helped them get integrated in their new environment and the “work experience” put them in good stead to start working immediately. Whilst the others who are still not yet resettled, and will take much longer to do so, continually upgrading their skills and serving our clients who are MNCs and Government Departments is ever more critical for their eventual resettlement.

We are also very proud to say that today, we have 3 PhD’s amongst our ranks in Genashtim – Dr. Susan D’Aloia (NY/Italy), Dr. Brad Elphinstone (Australia) and Dr. Victor Thevaraj (Malaysia).

Just before Christmas, Google Philippines started on the eCornell programme with Genashtim. This was a nice Christmas present to cap off the year.