Youth-led social enterprises in Malaysia

Youth-led social enterprises in Malaysia: Shaping Civil Society by and for Young People

Young people are the central pillar of civic engagement, vibrant and active civil society. This project aimed to examine the lived experiences of young people in their engagement in social entrepreneurship and the activities that youth-led social enterprises employ to contribute to civil society. The project team adopted a unique approach to enhance the voices of young people through combining co-design with young social entrepreneurs and case studies to bridge perspectives from the arts and humanities with the social sciences to seek answers to the following questions:

  • How do youth-led social enterprises contribute to civil society?
  • What influences young people’s sustained engagement in social entrepreneurship?
  • What are the lived experiences of young people in social enterprises, and how can they be supported toward social entrepreneurship that is sustainable for all?

A co-design event that encouraged collaborative exploration and peer learning was organised. The project team facilitated a supportive and inclusive environment to enable safe reflection and learning on what it means to be a young social entrepreneur in Malaysia. The question “How do young social entrepreneurs balance the joy and meaning of catalysing positive social change with the challenges and personal sacrifices?” was also reflected upon and discussed.

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A series of case studies that involved individual interviews with social entrepreneurs, employees, interns and beneficiaries of social enterprises, as well as with social entrepreneurship ecosystem builders were also conducted.

As the closing activity of the project, a stakeholder engagement event entitled “Youth Power: Celebrating and Supporting Young People in Social Entrepreneurship” was organised. The event facilitated active and collaborative dialogues among stakeholders in the social entrepreneurship ecosystem in Malaysia, including social entrepreneurs, employees of social enterprises, aspiring social entrepreneurs, ecosystem builders, academics, and policymakers. The research team shared the preliminary findings with the broader community (refer to for further details). Three young social entrepreneurs - Suzanne Ling from PichaEats, Redza Shahid from Grub Cycle, and Stuart Thomas from Babylon Vertical Farms - shared their experiences and journey in catalysing social change. During the event, aspiring social entrepreneurs also had the opportunity to showcase their ideas and get feedback on their proposed social solutions.

This is a collaborative project between Dr Andreana Drencheva (University of Sheffield), Dr Wee Chan Au (Monash University Malaysia), and Global Entrepreneurship Movement Association. This project is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) through the Changing the Story international network+ project led by the University of Leeds.

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