Money shouldn’t be a showstopper

Written by Cassie Lim, Be Movement issue 1 – SINGAPORE, published October 2012

Empact – empowering others

How many times have we heard of people who are not able to be what they truly want to be because of a lack of money; whether it is a fear of losing their job and stable income, or taking a leap into the unknown, or even after taking a leap realising that they do have not enough money to carry their dreams to reality? So what can people do when money is running short and uncertainties abound?

According to Peter Yang, the Executive Director of Empact organization, “Money should not be a showstopper .”

Too often, we are so constrained by the lack of money – real or imagined – that we freeze from doing what we truly love. Trapped by the need for a pay check or a sense of stability, we keep running round in circles, spiralling down this vicious cycle of frustration and helplessness. Soon, life races us by and, when we have the time to look back, we’re well into our old age and we have not done anything other than trying to survive – pay check to pay check. What if we could reverse time? Would we follow the same route, or would we take the opportunity while we still have time to do something different, something other than ‘surviving’?

Peter, a believer of making a difference, decided to make the leap from a safe and comfortable corporate life to setting up “Empact”, a social enterprise that aims to empower passionate change makers in other social outfits and non-profits. There are many social enterprises and non-profits in the world and what made Empact different is its role as a support and partner to these associations. “Basically there is an ecosystem to these social enterprises and non-profits. What Empact aims to do is to be the capacity builder to these outfits, with the role of providing services that empower these outfits to have greater reach,” says Peter. In these days when many people want to change the world, Peter decided to go behind the curtains and adopt the backend role of enabling these passionate people to reach their goals. This is because he has seen social entrepreneurs give up on their passion as they were overwhelmed by the administrative side of things and it pained him to see passion burn out.

Therefore, utilising his extensive skills from his corporate background, he offers three ranges of services from accounting and book keeping, to fund raising and other operations support (such as contract review, maintain website, HR, programme design, etc). Being exposed since school days to an international organisation like AIESEC, that is motivated by higher aims than profit, led Peter to seek the same when he entered the commercial world. Throughout his years of working for corporations, he has always been doing things on the fringe to get that extra sense of fulfilment, that sense that “I am truly making a difference in the world”. However, Peter realised that these ad-hoc activities of volunteering for various non-profits or organisations are not continuous, nor make use of his own expertise. Therefore, he sought for something more sustainable which could pivot upon his unique and focused skills. That is when he took the route of setting up Empact, even though he did not have sufficient funding and would be leaving his very comfortable and highly paid consultant job.

Workshop

“We can always start somewhere,” says Peter. Once he made the decision to go out on his own, he was very clear about what he wants to achieve. His intention was to empower organisation through passion. With hard work, action and determination, he managed to get a grant with the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre, who believed in his vision and have supported Empact to be. Empact’s unique model is to empower NGOs, social enterprises and donors, who wish to make a positive difference to society by offering professional services at hugely discounted rates. Empact enlists the help of corporate professionals, through effective volunteering work, thereby offering value to both the social and non-profit outfits and to the corporations.

Basically Empact wants to put a voice out there that says, “Yes, we want a business that is sustainable and a lifestyle that is reasonable.” The main point is that reasonable is enough. We do not need to be the most successful, the richest or the most powerful. What we do need to be is to be useful, to empower others and at the same time sustain ourselves.

Imagine if corporations, organisations and ultimately individuals choose to adopt this mind-set, what kind of changes would we see in the world?

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