Cre­at­ing Fu­ture Bosses

To­day, there’s a need for us to ed­u­cate kids in a more creative and in­ter­est­ing man­ner, as the World Wide Web gives them ac­cess to a mul­ti­tude of in­for­ma­tion. Eena Houzyama vis­its Dwi Emas In­ter­na­tional School, the first in Malaysia ded­i­cated to fos­ter­ing

Herworld (Malaysia) - - HER STORY -

As I walk to­wards the school’s open ad­min­is­tra­tion area, I’m greeted by HerWorld Woman of the Year 2016, Anne Tham. Anne was awarded the ti­tle for her con­tri­bu­tion to­wards the pop­u­lar ed­u­ca­tional app, Chem Ca­pers, in 2015. At the time, she was work­ing on cre­at­ing a new ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem for a school that she hoped would lead stu­dents into the world of en­trepreneur­ship. And now, here I am stand­ing at that school she’d dreamt of build­ing.

Aside from its very unique teach­ing tech­niques, the school’s Pow­er­preneur Pro­gramme had piqued my in­ter­est as a par­ent. What’s es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing

is that stu­dents learn the fun­da­men­tals of en­trepreneur­ship backed by ‘12 Pil­lars of Pow­er­preneur­ship’. The key fun­da­men­tals in­clude solv­ing prob­lems with cre­ativ­ity and in­no­va­tion, gain­ing in­sights into ex­ist­ing and fu­ture in­dus­tries, col­lab­o­rat­ing across borders and pro­fes­sions, cre­at­ing mas­sive value, fail­ing fast and fail­ing for­ward, as well as turn­ing ideas and pas­sions into causes that serve peo­ple.

But they’re not learn­ing th­ese from text­books, nor are they just get­ting a one-way ed­u­ca­tion. In­stead, this pro­gramme is headed by en­trepreneurs, so stu­dents gain real-life wis­dom from ex­pe­ri­enced in­dus­try play­ers.


This year, the school in­tro­duced a four-month-long Fash­ion­preneur Pro­gramme – a col­lab­o­ra­tion with fash­ion en­tre­pre­neur M, a Los An­ge­les fash­ion de­signer and founder of M the Move­ment. M has worked with su­per­stars such as Phar­rell Wil­liams and The Black Eyed Peas, and re­cently show­cased his work at the Sin­ga­pore For­mula One event.

“We cre­ated a work­shop. Ev­ery part of the pro­gramme has a dif­fer­ent fo­cus, so for the one on fash­ion, the end goal is to do a show af­ter 15 weeks, which is kind of sim­i­lar to a de­signer’s time­frame. By the third or fourth month, the idea is to make prod­ucts and show­case them – so the proof will be in the pud­ding. With the show, you see not just the de­signs, but also how the stu­dents work to­gether to pro­duce it, in ad­di­tion to cre­at­ing tick­ets and fly­ers for sales and mar­ket­ing. It’s all go­ing to be ev­i­dent in that one pro­duc­tion.

And the rea­son we chose fash­ion is not only be­cause of my back­ground, but be­cause it’s a busi­ness. It also re­lates to mak­ing chil­dren learn through fun – fash­ion is fun, sexy, ex­cit­ing, and glam­orous. But when you get into the crux of the in­dus­try, you’re learn­ing sales, mar­ket­ing, pro­duc­tion, and de­sign. There’s a void in the mar­ket now for all of those skills, par­tic­u­larly the creative ones, that if chil­dren learn th­ese en­trepreneurial skills, they’re go­ing to be very suc­cess­ful and have the tools they need to sur­vive. Even on YouTube, they’re cre­at­ing chan­nels but no one has con­tent,” ex­presses M.

Although M is con­stantly on the go, at­tend­ing to his var­i­ous busi­ness ven­tures, it has not stopped him from be­ing con­nected and avail­able for th­ese stu­dents. “I touch base with them phys­i­cally once a month and check in on the work­shops via Skype and Face­Time. While I’m watch­ing th­ese kids, I’m also keep­ing an eye out for in­terns among them. I can pro­vide them with in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence with­out leav­ing Malaysia. If I give them a project that I’m do­ing for J. Lo, for ex­am­ple, and they’re help­ing with the art­work, they could put that on their re­sume at age 12. It’s some­thing that’s not of­fered any­where else,” he shares.


The vi­sion of Dwi Emas is not one which is stag­nant. As Anne puts it, they’re try­ing to open the minds of chil­dren by giv­ing them a chance to em­bark on their dreams. “What we’re do­ing is re­ally be­ing on the ground with the kids by trans­lat­ing en­trepreneur­ship for their gen­er­a­tion, which is some­thing very few peo­ple have ac­tu­ally done. How do you take con­tent like that and turn it into some­thing kids can un­der­stand? We’re shift­ing mind­sets, get­ting them to come up with a busi­ness, and sup­port­ing them. M is part of a pro­gramme called Pow­er­preneur Global, which teaches kids what it takes to build a global busi­ness. The prob­lem with en­trepreneur­ship is that when you do it, it’s all about star­tups. But it’s not; it’s the whole jour­ney, and one part of the jour­ney is to take what­ever you’re do­ing global, be­cause peo­ple are talk­ing about ‘think global but do lo­cal’. Glo­cal, it’s called,” Anne en­thuses.

One thing’s for sure: vis­it­ing the school was quite an eye-opener. The stu­dents were friendly and con­fi­dent when shar­ing about their busi­ness ven­tures and ideas. Per­haps more schools, es­pe­cially pub­lic schools, can look into adapt­ing some of th­ese ideas for stu­dents to fur­ther ex­plore their ca­pa­bil­i­ties and build their own ca­reers.

CJ Lim, Kim, M, Anne, Melinda and Eu­gene

Anne Tham ACE EDVen­ture founder and CEO

M with Dwi Emas stu­dents

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