In the past decade, my startup growth journey from the world of transport in AirAsia and Grab, e-commerce in Sephora, to fintech and blockchain with Liquid and ACCESS, including this pandemic, had one narrative in common: inclusivity.
All of us belong together. We are in this together. We will get through this together.
For many years, I was that startup doer. Scaling startups was my purpose. I ran lean teams that were highly performance-oriented and KPI-driven. My schedule was packed everyday. I was leaving legacies behind that were fulfilling, but ultimately consumed me - mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I asked myself the hard question: if inclusivity is my journey, what would inclusivity look like for me? I have never done it for the money. I still felt lonely and disempowered as a female in tech, and this negative narrative got exacerbated the further I got to the top. I took it in my stride and always attuned myself to people who would support me and encourage my dreams. My intuition guided me to the path of nascent, emerging tech, or deep tech as the industry calls it, new technological frontiers that will help shape the future of financial inclusion and humanity as we know it.
In 2016, I accelerated my journey by transitioning into fintech and deep tech, finally immersing myself in blockchain and crypto in 2017. In 2019, I started thinking about deep human skills required to meet the disruption that came with these new technologies and to build meaningful, quality relationships. So I enrolled in a positive psychology course to upskill myself in areas of psychological resilience, complex communication, mindfulness, self-empathy, and took up volunteerism to help others. In 2020, I was given the opportunity to merge both passions in a new social impact venture called Ministry of Good.
Ministry For Good (MFG) is a spin off from a successful ad tech startup, Ministry XR. MFG's mission is to help companies deploy deep tech in underserved markets that make real social impact, from special needs communities with inspiring stories to tell, to communities that need access to education and healthcare. Our first two verticals will be focused on haptic tech for the deaf community, and VR/AR tech in education. VR/AR, haptics and Libra (can't resist the crypto reference) have been identified by Mark Zuckerberg as Facebook's long term bets for transformative tech in the future.
In this regard, I'm honored to join Ministry of Good as their Ambassador. I'll be helping them with their BD, community outreach, and fundraising efforts. If philanthropy, social impact and deep tech are of interest to you, reach out to me for a chat.
MFG has been in semi-stealth mode with no PR (will do so when the time comes), and we are in the works of prototyping our haptic tech for an upcoming project which we are excited about, so stay tuned for further announcements in the coming months. We are focused on tackling the UN’s SDGs, especially those related to healthcare, education, and inclusivity goals. We firmly believe that deep tech can profoundly change the way we engage and empower humanity, and MFG is committed to turning the potential of deep tech into actionable solutions.
You can view a live deployment of the haptic tech commissioned by Maxis here, to digitally enable the Muslim deaf community to be included in Ramadhan festivities here: https://www.maxis.com.my/campaigns/deria-takbir/en/
In terms of community size, a study published in the journal Annals by the Academy of Medicine, Singapore states that 422,000 older adults in Singapore suffer from hearing loss and over 100,000 may have a disabling hearing impairment as at April 2017. The numbers are expected to double by 2030.
Finally, Ministry For Good seeks to make meaningful change in the communities we operate in through active collaboration with stakeholders. For the outreach our haptics vertical, I had the privilege of e-meeting deaf advocate Lily Goh, who sits on the Board of the Singapore Association for the Deaf and runs her own social enterprise, ExtraOrdinary Horizons (EO Horizons), which offers Singapore Sign Language courses and services, deaf arts performances and more. Just before our Zoom meeting, I quickly brushed up on some sign language basics, such as hello, how are you, nice to meet you, and thank you. It was personally rewarding to see Lily light up at my first attempt to sign, and she even helped correct some of my signing technique towards the end of the chat.
Through our video and chat, Lily shared her wisdom with me on the existing accessibility gaps in the deaf community today from education, employment, to language access; opportunities and barriers to haptic tech adoption. Currently, Apple is the haptics tech wearables leader in the market, providing the deaf community access to trigger haptic alerts across their Apple devices. More R&D is being done to enhance the immersive experience for the deaf in the haptics field which MFG is active in, to transform the sense of touch into a fuller sensory experience.
Lily's entrepreneurial spirit and resilience inspired me in so many ways in these extraordinary times. In her vision to help others and to advocate for the deaf community, she did not make her deafness a limitation, making her a truly extraordinary individual. I recommend you watch her introductory video on her vision for her social enterprise, EO Horizons here. Below is a transcript excerpt from the video, filled with heart and vision:
What is EO Horizons?
It is a social enterprise.
What does social enterprise mean?
A business with the heart to help people.
What does ExtraOrdinary Horizons do?
EO Horizon's vision is "to create an inclusive society where the disadvantaged like single parents, low-income families, disabled (blind, deaf, wheelchair-users) and others, attain confidence in their own abilities.
ExtraOrdinary Horizons is like an educational and training school. We teach Singapore Sign Language (SgSL) [and] enrichment programs, so that you can support our employment and entrepreneurship. ..
We provide interpretation services to our clients who are deaf and [hard of] hearing, for better communication facilitation, and for better accessibility. Our other communication support includes note-taking, subtitling and language translation, for example, Chinese-to-English and English-to-Chinese. We have our special-interests group, Youth Deaf Generation (YDGEN), [which] supports the deaf arts development in Singapore."
What an inspiration! I hope Lily's story inspired you as much as it has inspired me. Lily is very enterprising, and she shared with me that she'd like to explore Youtube's monetization model. In order to do that, she needs at least 1,000 subscribers.
So let's get Lily to 1,000 subscribers! Subscribe to her Youtube channel today and follow her on her social media.