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Conversation of Change with Melvyn Mak





“We say that you must smell poverty before you know what it is.” said Melvyn Mak, Chairman at TBN Asia (Transformational Business Network Asia Ltd) and Co-Founder of Actxplorer.


“This whole issue of fighting poverty is so big and then with COVID, it actually pushed it back 20 to 30 years, especially in Southeast Asia. This ecosystem comes in to build the community because we all need support.”


TBN Asia’s vision is to fight poverty through enterprise. They have four pillars in their ecosystem, which include their Mentors & Advisors Network, Investors Network, Conferences and Forums, and Social Enterprise Training Hub (SETH).


SETH is much more than a training project - it is a heart project that allows us to come alongside the social entrepreneur to make him or her succeed in their pursuit for social impact changes.” he remarked.


They have an action-oriented curriculum. Who wouldn’t like to know every cohort is curated according to the industry interest of participating investors? Their programme is structured so it’s 25% theory but 75% application! There’s also early involvement with prospective investors. So far, TBN Asia has supported 23 social enterprises and raised $30K in sponsorships.





“We want to build more than just a business school.”


He emphasised that their differentiators include their strong mentoring and coaching programme, and peer support in terms of relationship managers. “As a banker last time, a relationship manager means if you are a valued client, there will be someone coming in to tell you what can be given to you, what the banks have in terms of resources and so on. Similarly, we need someone to help this social enterprise navigate through.


“It’s the whole gamut of TBN.”


Their Expertise Network works as a support community for social enterprises. It’s made up of industry mentors, specialist advisors and coaches. Experience entrepreneurs become business mentors and play a role in building and advising other social enterprises on their business model and strategy. People can choose to be coaches too, where they can help social entrepreneurs with their personal development and vision planning.


“Many social enterprises are stuck. Investors are not that interested in them because maybe the business model is not up to speed, so that needs to be trained. We bring along the expertise.” he said.


“And then we develop an Investors Network because, at the end of the day, it must be the investors who say, ‘okay, I’m going to put in some money.’”


They work tirelessly at building their community development pillar, which now has a new name ‘Outreach and Partnerships’. He describes that they bring in the whole spectrum of the ecosystem, which includes banks, impact funds, philanthropies, social enterprises as well as individuals.


Their vast network is constantly expanding; and being able to find the right experts means they have to be involved in running conferences and regular events. They partner with organisations and individuals to share ideas, practices and highlight their work in fighting poverty, all to create a greater impact ecosystem.


One of their upcoming events is ELC 2021, which is a biennial thought leadership experience in Asia. From September 6 to 11, there will be 120 speakers, 24 masterclasses, 6 roundtable sessions, 30 learning journeys, 100 coaches and over 60 mobile courses.


On September 7, TBN Asia will be hosting the Social Impact track at the 10th edition of ELC. It’s a chance to meet changemakers and founders in the social impact scene as well as 80 social enterprise exhibitors!


He explained that one of their sessions is called the Impact Café. Conference attendees can “can share and everybody can listen to it. Then for those listening to the 80 social enterprises might think, ‘wow, maybe I’d like to be involved with that’. That’s the whole idea.”


‘Leaders are a special breed who rise to the occasion to thrive in the between.

It is the spaces in “between” where we learn to reframe, recover and reinvent to thrive in this life that we live.’ — ELC 2021


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