In 2012, Dato’ Lawrence Low suffered financial losses totaling RM6 million in a franchise dessert business. In the ensuing three years, Low stepped back from the business world to recover his losses, reflect upon his journey, and to think about his future. It was during those times of reflection that he observed young people were struggling to make sense of the real world. In an interview with Top 10 of Malaysia, Dato’ Lawrence, the Founding Chairman of MyPerintis talks about his journey in setting up an organisation to empower youth to rise up to the challenges, dare to explore their fullest potential, make an impact and advocate meaningful and progressive change.
Dato’ Lawrence Low was running a Taiwanese international dessert franchise called ZenQ for a year, operating a total of twelve outlets across the nation. However, due to legal disputes between Low and the Taiwanese franchisor, he ran into financial losses which caused him a lot of stress. After much consultation with his family members, Low dropped the lawsuit and sold the dessert business.
“I was 27 years old then. When I reflected on what had happened, I learnt that despite graduating from a good university, I lost a lot of money in business because I had very little knowledge about managing a business and finances,” says Low.
Low felt that little emphasis on true empowerment is given to Malaysian youths at school. As youths needed to be supported, guided and empowered, he decided to set up an organisation that enables young people to become productive and responsible individuals. Instead of instituting the organisation immediately, he pitched his idea to the Honorary President of Perdana Leadership Foundation, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was the fourth and seventh Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Low mentions, “I met Tun Dr Mahathir in person. I shared my ideas with Tun about potential youth programmes for the organisation. He didn’t tell me what I should do, but recommended that I instill good noble values in our youth programmes. He also advised me not to call ourselves leaders as not many people are open to seeing young people as ‘leaders’ but rather as ‘pioneers’ or ‘trailblazers’.”
Inspired and motivated from his meeting with Tun Dr Mahathir, Low established MyPerintis as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in June 2015, and the NGO is now a full-fledged Foundation since June 2019. MyPerintis is short for ‘Yayasan Perintis Malaysia’ (Malaysia Trailblazers Foundation) and it promotes youth empowerment in education, employability, entrepreneurship, arts and culture and volunteerism.
“Most of our programmes are formulated based on my personal experiences as a young person. We address the many gaps of what is important in youth development by organising programmes through which experts, professionals and speakers give talks and provide outreach and services to youths in gaining the necessary knowledge and confidence,” explains the Founding Chairman.
Low endeavours for MyPerintis to be a leading organisation in providing support, guidance, training, and mentorship to Malaysian youths. One of the ways to empower them is through effective and sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes.
Although one might assume MyPerintis similar to other organisations, this NGO stands out as its events and programmes are organised and implemented by young people, thus resulting in successful and effective outreach and inspiring more than 100,000 Futureshifters.
Low continues to explore avenues to make progressive changes for our youths. He has established a social enterprise under MyPerintis called School of Life which focuses on digitalisation.
“Young people are more engaged in the online world, as such, we have to include digitalisation in our programmes and events which are mostly offline. By going digital, we become more relevant and are able to have a wider reach,” shares Low.
While Low is excited about the prospects of MyPerintis, he wants to impart an important message to the Malaysian youths. “Getting established successfully in the world is not as easy as you think. Don’t get overexcited by high motivation as real life is different from motivation. Our programmes can take on quite a serious nature, so when you come for our programmes, be sure to learn something and ask real questions because this is the real stuff that you need to know.”