CSR Platform Helps Revive Agri-Social Business Led by Iban | Daily Express Online


CSR platform helps revive agri-social business run by Iban

Posted on: Sunday June 27, 2021

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Imelda Bragie Anak Jamie, founder of Benak Raya, aims to preserve the tradition of Simanggang rice farming and lift the Sri Aman Ibanese community out of poverty.

HONG Leong Bank announced a new collaboration with Benak Raya, an agricultural social enterprise run by Iban under the Bank’s “HLB Jumpstart” CSR platform, making it the fifth such social enterprise. The platform is part of the Bank’s “Community Investment” core for sustainability. pillar focus, which focuses on building partnerships with promising social enterprises that empower and stimulate community development. These include managing logistics, adopting digital, expanding the distribution network in West Malaysia, and building brand awareness through marketing.


Benak Raya was founded in 2017 by Imelda Bragie Anak Jamie, an Iban based in Sri Aman, Sarawak. Imelda’s goal is to keep the family tradition of Simanggang rice growing, with the long term goal of lifting the Iban community of Sri Aman out of poverty. Thanks to Benak Raya, she currently employs 16 villagers from the community to help them earn a sustainable living and aims to provide more employment opportunities to her community.

HLB Jumpstart will help Benak Raya build a scalable and sustainable business through mentoring, networking and equipping them with business tools and skills.

The Sarawakian social enterprise produces three types of Simanggang rice varieties – white, red and black and has since branched out into a line of rice products including edible rice straws, facial scrubs and hand sanitizers based on fruit extracts. Benak Raya’s invention of Edible Rice Straws made from Simanggang Rice to reduce the use of single-use plastic straws won the Shell LiveWire Top 10 Innovators Awards in 2019, a truly outstanding achievement for a small business. As the country has spent over a year battling the Covid-19 pandemic, Benak Raya faced many challenges in selling his products and earning income as he relied on trade shows and events. pop-up to market and sell their products in Peninsular Malaysia. As the events were canceled due to movement restrictions imposed under the various Movement Control Orders (“MCO”), Benak Raya was not able to seek income opportunities as they did before the MCO . According to Domenic Fuda, Group Managing Director and CEO of HLB: “In line with our core values ​​of entrepreneurship, sustainability and social responsibility, we look forward to supporting Benak Raya, our first ever East Malaysian-led social enterprise. by a strong woman. entrepreneur passionate about building her community by offering them a sustainable way of life through rice cultivation.


“At the same time, strive to preserve an agricultural heritage that is an integral part of their own culture. We are impressed with Imelda’s innovative approach not only to diversify rice products beyond standard rice flour into beverages and cosmetics, but also to invent new sustainable products with by-products. rice to reduce the consumption of plastic straw, for example. Hong Leong Bank’s marketing and communications director Zalman Zainal said the pandemic has forced businesses of all sizes to move towards digitalization. However, small and micro businesses, including social enterprises, may not have the resources to make this digital shift. “With our digital strategy at the heart and our entrepreneurial DNA, we believe we are in a good position to support Benak Raya with our expertise, our best practices and our relevant solutions to help them in their go-to-market strategy. “One of their biggest hurdles right now is having a reliable logistics service provider at competitive prices. Without a base in Peninsular Malaysia, the social enterprise often faces the problem of high delivery charges for orders from Peninsular Malaysia. To start with, he helped Benak Raya digitize his business operations to include a transparent digital payment system and create an e-commerce platform that will integrate tailored logistics solutions. “Next, we will look to expand their sales and distribution channels in Peninsular Malaysia to supermarkets and convenience stores, as well as refresh the look and feel of their brand,” Zalman said. Imelda was eager to work with HLB to further increase the opportunities that will benefit the village in which she grew up, while preserving her family’s agricultural heritage. “As the 10th generation taking over the family tradition of rice growing from Simanggang, I see this legacy as a huge potential to improve the livelihoods of my community out of poverty. “We are convinced that working with HLB through HLB Jumpstart will allow us to regenerate our business during these difficult times and, subsequently, allow us to help more Ibanese villagers to earn an income,” said Imelda. HLB Jumpstart was launched in September 2018 and works closely with Malaysian social enterprises to help them build sustainable businesses through five pillars: Financial Literacy, Tools & Digitization, Branding & Marketing, Marketing & Volunteering . Less than a year after its inception, the CSR platform was recognized at the CSR Malaysia Awards 2019 for its strong support to the local social enterprise ecosystem. Most recently, the Bank was also recognized internationally by the Global Good Governance (3G) Awards 2021 for its commitment to good governance, transparency and social responsibility in the area of ​​social protection. Thanks to HLB Jumpstart, the Bank collaborated with four other social enterprises. These are The Asli Co., an impact-driven social enterprise that enables Orang Asli mothers to earn a sustainable living from making handicrafts; Suru, an award-winning denim recycling social enterprise that works with single and disadvantaged mothers providing them with financial opportunities and life skills; Green Hero which focuses on eradicating food waste in the country as well as Coffee for Good which aims to raise B40 youth through an on-the-job barista training program.

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