Malaysia is a country driven by religious values with an open, diversified, upper-middle-income economy. Located in South East Asia, Malaysia is known for its four UNESCO World Heritage Sites[1], along with its rainforests, colonial architecture and beaches. It is also notable for its status as Asia’s ethnic and cultural melting pot with a mix of Malay, Indian, Chinese and European cultural influences. Social innovation in Malaysia is a constantly growing sector, recognised as a ‘gateway’ in tackling social challenges and barriers that conventional government policies and business practices are unable to address. This article aims to revisit social values, interwoven with Malaysia’s attempts to harness the power of innovation for inclusive, sustainable development and the creation of social change. In addition, Social Innovation Academy lists eight Malaysian social innovations aiming to achieve measurable, positive, social and environmental outcomes.


Social Outcome Fund

In 2017, the Malaysian government launched a RM 3m (£537,000) Social Outcome Fund (SOF) to help address some of the country’s most pressing social challenges. Surprisingly, Malaysia was the first-ever country in Asia to have a Social Outcome Fund[2] that involves corporations and foundations in its decision-making. It achieves this by empowering them to invest in ventures that strive for the creation of social impact. SOF is an ambitious effort to boost Malaysia’s social economy, as businesses go beyond corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices that often have traditionally involved companies donating money to charities for brand marketing purposes. So how does it work? If the social enterprises or other social purpose organisations deliver the agreed social outcomes, then SOF will repay the impact investors with interest based on the cost savings achieved. Just take my pocket money already!



The potential in the e-learning industry is enormous. By 2022, the size of this industry shall amount to a whopping $243 billion’[3]. This amount excludes a highly likely further increase as COVID-19 has encouraged universities, schools and organisations to provide new educational responses that facilitate student learning. Distance learning solutions are required not only on days when schools are closed; indeed, they should always be available and accessible to all as we enter a new era where technology has become an indispensable part of our lives in the pursuit to empower minds. Edunation is Malaysia’s first social platform for education that strives to educate thousands of children across the country unable to afford tuition fees. Edunation believes that every Malaysian, irrespective of race, creed, culture, age and religion should have access to the best education’[4] and puts the entire Malaysian syllabus online to level the playing field for students. To date, the social platform has noted great success, with more than 114,222[5] students engaged and benefiting from Edunation’s online resources related to educational videos, attending seminars and being part of its programmes! Not bad for an educational platform, right?


The Social Innovation Lab

Consistent with today’s rapidly changing world, the intricacies of socioeconomic and environmental challenges require novel approaches that foster social change. Without coordinated actions, lives and livelihoods are left unprotected and the most vulnerable struggle to stay afloat. The Social Innovation Lab identifies key challenges and catalyses innovation as a force for good to help children and youth reach their full potential. It works with local partners to design new products, services, and interventions to address challenges facing Malaysia’s most vulnerable children and young people’[6] and currently serves as an organising point for social innovators to create new impactful ventures. Tools and methods related to design thinking, user validation and rapid prototyping are just some of the approaches implemented in an attempt to positively impact communities. Interested in getting involved? We’ll just drop their email here in case it comes in handy: hello@innovationlab.my   



The time when individuals were limited to working, innovating and exchanging ideas within their existing networks is long gone. Improvements have been made, yet some fundamental issues of imbalances in global communication remain. For instance, you might have a great idea for making the world a better place but you don’t know how to communicate it, approach the right people and turn your dream project into reality. So, what can be done? Such events call for the creation of effective bridges of communication between people and social purpose-driven organisations to address some of the most pressing social issues of our times. Hati.my aspires to change this situation by serving the community. It is Malaysia’s largest open directory addressing the lack of centralised information among NGOs, social organisations, non-profit movements and underprivileged communities. Hati.my enables volunteers, charities and donors to find relevant information and update their needs accordingly on its platform, as well as inspiring people to the art of giving back within communities and marginalised groups in heightened need. Did you know that volunteering helps you stay physically healthy? We didn’t!


Protect and Save the Children

Kids cast a ray of sunshine over us all by being terrific, innocent, free and reminding us of what is best about ourselves. Child sexual abuse (CSA) is an adverse childhood experience that affects how a person thinks, acts and feels over a lifetime. It is a widespread problem that causes severe damage to the cognitive, social and emotional development of a child, and estimating its magnitude in numbers is a complex task as the issue is usually hidden from view. As a society, we need to initiate and support services, organisations and policies to prevent CSA that exploits and degrades children. Protect and Save the Children (PSC) is Malaysia’s first social innovation project focusing solely on the prevention, intervention and treatment of CSA. PSC took part in the Social Outcome Fund (SOF)[7], with aspirations to receive funding from social impact investors and intensify its efforts to develop awareness of CSA among children, adults, authorities and the public, as well as provide intervention and support in cases of child sex abuse and advocate for policy and legislative changes[8]. This remarkable initiative shows people how to learn to listen to these children and protect others from contingent abuse that will add their voices to the echoes.


SUKA Society

SUKA Society, or Persatuan Kebajikan Suara Kanak-kanak Malaysia (SUKA), is a non-governmental organisation empowering Malaysian youth through the power of social innovation. As Protect and Save the Children (PSC) protects and empowers youth, SUKA Society was set up to protect and preserve the best interests of children through its work on a variety of social innovation projects attempting to create social change. It is an advocate for the survival, protection, participation and development of all children. They promote children’s best interests by conducting training programmes for kids and anyone who comes into contact with them. Alongside this, they create alternatives to detention initiatives for children affected by arrest and detention, as well as providing Orang Asli children with access to pre-school education. They also work to protect trafficked survivors[9] by offering therapeutic programmes that help them learn how to deal with their trauma and stress, as well as to conduct interviews with children suspected of being trafficked by syndicates. Undoubtedly, every single or group effort is of paramount importance and no matter what the different strategies are, little by little, they could make major strides in ending human trafficking and ensuring freedom for all.



The Malaysian Innovation Foundation (YAYSAN INOVASI MALAYSIA – YIM), an agency under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, funds several programmes to drive innovation and creativity amongst Malaysians, targeting children, youth, women, disabled people, rural communities and non-government organizations’[10]. The MOSTI Social Innovation (MSI) fund was launched through YIM’S various nationwide initiatives, with the objective of improving the well-being of communities and the society. The MSI fund created InnoMap, Malaysia’s first scalable repository of innovation knowledge to help people understand the need to innovate and join forces when combating social challenges. So, what does it do exactly? InnoMap serves as the custodian of innovation-related knowledge in the country, preserving innovative ideas within a web application capable of integrating data on grassroots innovations and innovators identified by government agencies and submitted by the local community. The smart search platform enables administrators to collect data, monitor and manage the data for developing and strengthening the grassroots innovation ecosystems. With InnoMap, the public and private sectors as well as grassroots community innovators can interact and learn from one another.’[11] Initiatives such as InnoMap help people and organisations comprehend the added value when conducting business operations and how, through everyone’s individual efforts, coalitions can be created that nurture societal well-being.


GBI Innovation

Green buildings are sustainable buildings that focus on increasing efficiency and resource use (materials, water, energy) in their design, construction or operation, while reducing or eliminating negative impacts on human health, communities and the environment throughout their lifecycle. The world is heating up and buildings account for nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide[12], meaning that more actions are needed that will provide renewable energy solutions to meet the targets mandated by the Paris Climate Agreement. In Malaysia, the introduction of sustainable architecture seems to work well, as the country aspires to fight the climate crisis through green buildings. One of the biggest contributors to CO2 emissions regarding building designs in Malaysia is air conditioning. While in countries with cold climate, architects are trying to isolate the building in order to keep the heat inside, in Malaysia, they are trying to achieve exactly the opposite effect (…) another huge trend and area of extensive research in Malaysia are the green rooftops. In places similar to the Malaysian climate, green roofs help reduce energy consumption, noise pollution, and heat island effect’[13]. For instance, GBI Innovation works on identifying potential energy conservation opportunities, through a systematic analytical process of the building design, which prevents the depletion of natural resources and helps with the planet’s conservation. Fostering green innovations reveals an interplay between social innovation and sustainable future planning. Interested in learning more? The Green Building Index in Malaysia lists examples of certified sustainable buildings here.


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[1] https://aseanup.com/unesco-world-heritage-sites-malaysia/

[2] https://www.theborneopost.com/2017/10/20/malaysia-only-asian-country-to-have-social-outcome-fund-says-nancy/

[3] https://elearningindustry.com/elearning-platforms-use-online-courses-10

[4] http://www.edunation.my/info/information/about-us?key=ag9zfmRldi1lZHVuYXRpb25yGgsSDUZvb3RlckNvbnRlbnQYgICAqOWrigkM

[5] http://www.edunation.my/info/information/our-impact?key=ag9zfmRldi1lZHVuYXRpb25yGgsSDUZvb3RlckNvbnRlbnQYgICAqNHTzggM

[6] https://www.innovationlab.my/

[7] https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/responsible-investing-looking-new-ways-invest-social-enterprises

[8] http://psthechildren.org.my/aboutus.html

[9] http://www.sukasociety.org/protecting-trafficked-survivors/

[10] https://www.yim.my/mosti-social-innovation-msi-fund/

[11] https://www.yim.my/innomap/

[12] https://edition.cnn.com/2019/04/02/business/zero-energy-building-innovate-singapore/index.html

[13] https://www.greenjournal.co.uk/2019/09/how-is-malaysia-fighting-climate-change-with-sustainable-architectural-designs/

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