The people he meets along his journey inspire him to keep fighting.
“We were very early in the game with eLearning and that was very painful for the first 7 to 8 years. Because nobody wanted to talk to us, it took us a long time to get the company moving.” said Thomas. “But the journey has been good. To see them excel and see them happy, see them make something out of their lives, I think it’s certainly very rewarding.”
Thomas Ng is the CEO of Genashtim, a digital solutions provider. In 2015, his company became the 2nd company in the whole of Southeast Asia to be a B Corporation (B-Corps), named ‘Best for the World’ every year since.
B-Corps are part of a pioneering movement for organisations to stake claim as socially responsible businesses. The community ‘works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose.’ It’s not simply lip service with these companies, they are truly brands that advocate social responsibility.
But these companies can’t do that without thinking like a typical business. Thomas decided from the very beginning that Genashtim had to be a for-profit social enterprise because “For us, the more profit we make, the more we can serve the community.”
It was only later on that he subscribed to the Triple Bottom Line concept of Profits, People and Planet, which became incredibly appropriate for his goals. His inclusive business model has provided employment for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), LGBTQ, HIV-infected, women in oppressed environments and elderly individuals remotely from anywhere in the world.
“So we are totally 100% cloud based and today the sexy term is ‘remote work’, so we have been in remote work for over 12 years. We don’t have an office, we don't create waste,
so in a sense we are a very green company. In fact the only person responsible for an adverse effect on the planet is me because I'm the one traveling around for business.”
Today they have 130 employees across more than 10 countries, which ranges from Venezuela, Ghana, Zimbabwe to the Philippines and Vietnam.
COMPASSION AND KINDNESS
Genashtim’s engagement with people from the Hazaras tribe in Afghanistan started in 2018. These refugees have been stuck in Indonesia for more than 20 years and he explained how they have no rights and their children can’t go to school. So what they’ve done is to set up their own learning centres and that way the adults can volunteer to teach.
Thomas was amazed by them because “when you think about refugees you think they are rough and tough people. These are educated people, middle class families, they have a house, cars, MacBooks, and because they are persecuted they have to sell everything, pack up and leave.
“Some of them are really on the verge of oblivion, like there’s nothing for them, for their families. They themselves are in such a dire situation and instead of being depressed about it, they are volunteering to help other people and their own communities.” he said. “They have degrees, but of course they cannot work. So we found a way for them to work online for us and that was very rewarding.
“The first one I hired, I remembered going to his house. This guy had no job for so many years, he’s trying to survive. When I went to visit him, he showed me a message: one of his friends needed help because he was going to be kicked out of his house, can’t pay the rent anymore. And he gave half his first drawn salary to his friend. He said, ‘Thomas, God found a solution for me, I’m sure God will find a solution for my friend also.’”
DETERMINATION AND STRENGTH
“If you get to know them, I just find it very rewarding. When you are up-close with people and you understand how they go about their lives, how they struggle, and how they make something out of their lives,” he said. “and how they are so happy that in fact you are much happier with your own life.”
In his Conversation of Change interview, he talked about Therese, a learning consultant in the eCornell department, who lives in the Philippines. He described how she’s paralysed from the neck down and is dependent on a ventilator 24/7 because she can’t breathe on her own.
Despite the challenges, Therese worked for them for about 7 years though she can only operate a computer by voice.
“Every time I talk to her, she’s very happy. So then you think, if she can be happy in her condition, then what problems do I have? You can’t compare.
“I think it’s a great gift if people understand how other people’s lives are and to develop empathy.”
LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION HERE