Maybank’s R.I.S.E Programme Improves Lives Of Over 11,000 In Southeast Asia’s Underprivileged Communities

by | Nov 3, 2021 | SUSTAINABILITY | 0 comments

Following the overwhelming success of its launch, the Maybank Foundation’s Reach Independence and Sustainable Entrepreneurship (R.I.S.E) programme has reached a milestone of a total of 11,813 participants trained across Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Laos.

With 9,511 of their participants being people with disabilities (PWDs) and 2,198 from other marginalized communities, the R.I.S.E programme has made a significant impact on the PWD communities in Southeast Asia, by boosting personal confidence, fostering digital and financial inclusion, and raising income levels through entrepreneurship mentoring.

The programme was implemented in two phases— R.I.S.E 1.0 and now, R.I.S.E 2.0. The first phase of the R.I.S.E. programme, which ran from from the year 2014 to 2019, closed with phenomenal results, impacting 6,358 participants in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Laos. Out of these participants, the top 40% of those trained have achieved an average monthly income increase of 390.1%, while 70% of all participants were able to become self-sufficient and continue to thrive in running their businesses years after the initial training. This was all achieved without any loans or financial help.

Given the success from the first phase of the R.I.S.E. programme, R.I.S.E 2.0 continues Maybank Foundation’s commitment of championing financial inclusion for PWDs. Launched in September 2019, the second phase of the R.I.S.E programme incorporates a high degree of technology in its entrepreneurship mentoring and greater flexibility in commitment levels, in a markedly different approach from the original R.I.S.E programme — with the ultimate goal of ensuring that PWDs have a stake in the digital economy as it revs up.

“The Maybank Foundation remains committed to our mission of creating measurable, tangible and sustainable impacts that empower disadvantaged communities. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, R.I.S.E 2.0 has been highly successful, and is still on-track to fulfilling our original vision of empowering 17,100 participants through 3 levels of training in 6 countries in ASEAN, 70% of which are PWDs,” said CEO of Maybank Foundation, Shahril Azuar Jimin.

This shift in focus proved to be crucial amidst the pandemic, which has accelerated the global digital revolution. With 40 million new internet users in Southeast Asia alone over the last year, the Internet has become an inextricable part of our daily lives. Amidst these paradigm shifts, ensuring that PWDs — who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic — are not left behind in the rapidly-growing digital economy has become even more pressing, especially when digital inclusion is closely tied to improved outcomes in well-being and employment.

When the pandemic hit, social distancing measures disrupted the ability of mentors to conduct face-to-face training and of participants to conduct their businesses offline. However, the adoption of digital skills allowed them to overcome these challenges and ensure that no participant was left behind.

Training and mentoring moved online, with R.I.S.E 2.0 providing participants with access to Internet and devices, as well as step-by-step coaching on how to set up ZOOM, in order to ensure participants could attend virtual training and continue learning. These measures helped them to reach and train 2,759 people via online training, from June to December 2020, despite the pandemic restrictions.

In line with R.I.S.E. 2.0’s goals of promoting digital inclusion for disadvantaged communities, helping participants pivot their businesses online also became a focal point of the programme — which was especially crucial amidst COVID-19, when their ability to conduct business offline was restricted. Mentors strategized with participants on pivoting their businesses online, and assisted them in taking their business to online marketplaces. They also provided training on basic digital communication skills to market their products on social media platforms, ensuring that participants have the fundamental skills needed to partake in the burgeoning e-Commerce economy.

In addition, to cater to a broader spectrum of needs, R.I.S.E 2.0 rolled out with three levels:

  • R.I.S.E Basic participants are equipped with fundamental know-how across a two-day training programme
  • R.I.S.E Standard participants join a six-month mentoring programme on top of a three-day programme, and have access to a customized phone app and an online marketplace
  • R.I.S.E Premium participants commit to five days of training and a year-long mentoring programme, as well as access to more resources such as the customized app, an online marketplace, and technical advisers.

The expansion of the programme to address different commitment levels ensures that PWDs unable to commit to the full duration of the programme can still benefit from it; and, those looking for a more in-depth mentorship have access to the resources they need to build more advanced businesses.

Producing sustainable outcomes and uplifting less-privileged communities

Implemented by People Systems Consultancy Sdn Bhd (PSC), the programme partner of the Maybank Foundation, R.I.S.E produces tangible and sustainable income increase with ripple-effects across the local communities.

The R.I.S.E. programme is an economic empowerment programme designed to provide real and tangible support for underprivileged communities with a special focus on people with disabilities (PWDs). It focuses to improve confidence and income of the underprivileged communities; and empowers them to be socially, digitally and financially inclusive through entrepreneurship and financial training.

The R.I.S.E 2.0 programme has already made a marked impact on the marginalized community. The top 40% of all participants trained and mentored under R.I.S.E. 2.0 Standard have achieved an average income increase of 336.04%.

Raymond D Gabriel, the Executive Director of PSC said: “The R.I.S.E programme addresses the need for effective empowerment programmes tailored to the needs of PWDs — a community which has been underserved and overlooked. R.I.S.E provides them with the education, skills and support for long-term success. With these tools, they can take control of their own income, setting them on the path towards financial inclusion and independence.”

Through R.I.S.E 2.0 Basic, trainees rated an average improvement in entrepreneurial knowledge of 95.17%. Neither does the training end with the programme – participants were also trained to impact the people around them, uplifting local communities as a whole. The optimism and knowledge within the community acts as a catalyst for income increase by empowering non-participants as well.

The future for R.I.S.E

In its 5-year plan, Maybank and PSC aim to elevate its current programme to maximise the achievement of its strategic objectives while minimising cost. The key to achieving this is the integration of technology into the programme’s repertoire to scale the impact and thereafter to achieve financial, social and digital inclusion. The addition of the R.I.S.E 2.0 will improve engagement among participants, continuous learning, as well as making financial services from Maybank more accessible to these underprivileged communities.

R.I.S.E 2.0 also has plans to cover more countries in Southeast Asia to reach more PWDs and marginalised communities, and is hoping to anchor the programme in Myanmar and Singapore over the next few years.