JUST CAUSE

A small ges­ture is all it takes to seed a cul­ture of giv­ing.

The Peak (Singapore) - - Contents - NEO KAH KIAT Founder, chair­man, and CEO of Neo Group Lim­ited

A small ges­ture is all it takes to seed a cul­ture of giv­ing.

Neo Kah Kiat, 46, grew up in a three­room flat with his par­ents and two broth­ers. “My fam­ily was very poor, but I saw a lot of peo­ple who were poorer than me,” says the cater­ing com­pany founder. As a 10-year-old, he would fol­low his mother to the tem­ple, and ask her for a few coins to give to the beg­gars there.

This act of giv­ing, no mat­ter how small, is a prac­tice he hopes to pass on to his staff, first by hav­ing them do­nate at least 10 cents of their salary to the firm’s monthly fund-rais­ing pro­gramme. The Seed fund has grown from a few hun­dred dol­lars a month eight years ago to $8,000 a month to­day. Over 50 char­i­ties, such as the African Child Care As­so­ci­a­tion, have ben­e­fited from the pro­ceeds.

The group’s com­mit­ment to giv­ing sees it in­volved in the Na­tional Vol­un­teer & Phi­lan­thropy Cen­tre’s Com­pany of Good ini­tia­tive, which sup­ports corporate giv­ing. “I want to en­cour­age busi­ness­men to in­spire their staff to give,” says the en­tre­pre­neur, who be­lieves in the vir­tu­ous cy­cle. “Ever since we started do­nat­ing to char­ity, good things have hap­pened to us, be it se­cur­ing a prime lo­ca­tion or hav­ing peo­ple ex­tend help in times of need.”

He also con­trib­utes to Cheng Hong’s Af­ter­life Memo­rial Ser­vice, which spon­sors fu­neral ar­range­ments for se­niors with­out kith or kin. “These peo­ple have only one worry – that no one will take care of their fu­neral rites,” he says. This year, Neo raised $500,000 for the cause, one he finds par­tic­u­larly mean­ing­ful as it helps the el­derly to “go with peace of mind”.

“MY FAM­ILY WAS VERY POOR, BUT I SAW A LOT OF PEO­PLE WHO WERE POORER THAN ME.”

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