Volunteering for International (VIP)
National Strategy Unit, Ministry of Finance

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Since independence in 1957 and especially after 1970 with the introduction of the New Economic Policy (NEP), Malaysia has been on a steady road to development, changing from agricultural based economy into industrial based and currently embarking on a knowledge based economy. During this progress, the government has initiated many programs aimed at improving the socio economic aspects of the country. In 1991, when then Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad introduced Vision 2020, which is a commitment to become a fully developed nation by the year 2020, Malaysia embarked on a new venture gearing towards upward mobility both socially and economically. This saw accelerated economic growth as Malaysia started attracting more FDIs that prompted growth in various industries hence leading to known phenomena of growth such as urbanization and urban migration. Consequently, urban population increased which then resulted in growing numbers of middle income and lower income groups. Government initiated various programs in addressing the disparity both within the urban population as well as between the urban and rural population. Public wellbeing is given special emphasis as the government draws strategy to becoming a high income nation. Inclusivity is made a common theme in the nation’s development agenda as the Government wanting to assure that none is left behind in its journey towards a developed nation. Together with the Government, the role of the private sectors and NGOs as well as individuals becomes imperative in driving inclusivity as part of the development agenda. As such, among others, the Government inculcates volunteerism among the citizens, especially the youth of Malaysia. Building such a culture not only helps in building social inclusion, tolerance, community ownership and patriotism, but also helps the volunteers gain invaluable skills such as team work, leadership and project planning that can be very useful in their professional careers. Youth volunteers of all races are mobilized for nation-building activities held across the country. Activities include opportunities ranging from mentorship to large scale nationwide clean ups and natural disaster relief efforts. This is done by encouraging the youth to give back to their communities. The present volunteering activities though have positive impacts to the society, nevertheless still lack on adding value in terms of new knowledge and vital soft skills such as leadership and interpersonal skills to volunteers. This is where the Volunteering for International Professional Programme was initiated to attract foreign professionals as expert volunteers to actively contribute to the social and economic activities in Malaysia. Apart from creating a large pool of talented foreign professionals who can undertake truly high-impact volunteering projects at low-cost, the programme is also helping bridge key skill gaps through sharing of knowledge and experience. The programme also helped creating new social enterprises, an area the Government of Malaysia is also working on together with its activities to promote entrepreneurship development, as one of the growth engine for the nation.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The Volunteering for International Professionals (VIP) initiative is a programme to attract and provide pool of talented mixture of professionals from all over the world and among Malaysians to contribute and share their expertise and experiences voluntarily in projects that gives impact to the target beneficiaries. The volunteers will then work closely with the participating Non-Government Organisation (NGO) in addressing social issues in the local community. This is to attract and create a bridge for NGO to actively and progressively participate in volunteerism movement or activities.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The fellowship impacted more than 12,000 beneficiaries since its inception in 2015 with it’s 18 impact projects throughout the nation. The target audiences/ beneficiaries were mainly from the poorest and most vulnerable communities in Malaysia. The impact projects addressed issues around women empowerment, youth-at-risk, access to education, children’s rights, homelessness, people with disabilities, unemployment and underemployment among youths, renewable energy, urban poverty, agro-tourism, sustainable tourism, access to water, socio-economic development and health of indigenous community, etc. Highlights on some of the projects – 1. “Creating Livelihood via Agriculture” Rural communities, especially those from marginalised groups such as single mothers, face limited options to make a living in Kulim (northern part of Malaysia). This project created livelihoods via gender-focused, non-labour intensive agriculture for single mothers with young children. Specifically, it created sustainable income streams for this group of women through cottage industries, and empowered them through capacity building and English training. The Volunteers/ Fellows built relationships with the target group, gaining insight into their current socio-economic situations and based on that, the team set up the main infrastructure for a Human Capital Development Centre, as well as training in organic farming skills and laid the foundation for the development of a chili-based cottage industry that created a full supply chain from farm to table. One of the outcome was a single mother in this project that was able to buy a small second-hand car which will allow her to drive her children to school and sell her products in the nearby market. This proves that the initiative enhanced the well-being of the target audience. 2. “Birth of a Hero” This project helped underprivileged youth to lead a life of dignity and independence by developing character and positive values through Muay Thai martial art and secured employment for youths. 3. “Empowering the Visually Impaired This project developed training modules for the visually impaired community aimed at building their capacity, increasing public awareness on the issue faced by people with disabilities and thus, improving their employability rate. 4. “Creating Livelihood for the BOP Community This project rehabilitated and reintegrated the homeless community into society by providing them with employment opportunities. Besides the solution of creating jobs for the homeless, the project also addressed psychosocial issues of the homeless, while equipping them with essential training and personal skills to prepare them for employment.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
VIP is a fellowship program that is different from the other volunteering program. There are three unique features to describe: 1. Impact Projects: All projects executed in VIP program should focuses on creating meaningful and sustainable impacts for its beneficiaries. The projects were co-designed by the participating volunteers and host organization under the supervision and monitoring of the National Strategy Unit of Ministry of Finance. These projects are mainly in the areas of concern for nation building. 2. Professional Volunteers: Volunteers involved in VIP projects are all professionals in their related field internationally and local who have at least few years of working experiences. They will be grouped in a team of local and international volunteers for almost 4 months in co-designing and executing the project plan based on target outcome by stakeholders and the project host. The mixture of volunteers enables knowledge transfer among them. 3. Sustainability of the Projects: Apart from volunteers, each project has also its owner that functions as the Host Organisation to ensure sustainability of the projects initiated under VIP. The host organisation (project host) comprised of Non-government Organisation (NGO) and Social Enterprises that have done impressive works in the past and have good engagement with the local communities. Government agencies are also involved in many ways to ease and support the implementation of the projects not only throughout the fellowship but beyond the program duration.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
VIP is an initiative under the Malaysia National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) of which is an integrated measure to improve public well-being through the formulation and execution of creative solutions. NBOS is the national agenda that launches more than 100 initiatives since 2009 and being closely monitored by Prime Minister of Malaysia. It is part of government goal to transform Malaysia into high income nation. Announced by Prime Minister in December 2013 as one of the NBOS initiative, VIP was designed and administered by Ministry of Finance through National Strategy Unit, with the strong support of Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Youth. VIP being an NBOS initiative, it is based on collaboration that believes the togetherness will leads to seamless communication and brings great impact. After two cycles of implementation in 2015 and 2016, VIP has created 18 projects that involve professional volunteers of 58 international and 36 Malaysian. They have worked together with 18 NGOs and social enterprise as host organisation, together with more than 40 partners in completing the projects including universities and corporates. Throughout the 4 months programme engagement, the volunteers have the opportunity to engage local community through events, training and workshops in developing their projects, which in the end benefited around 12,265 people.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
To come up with and to implement socially innovative solutions that are both effective and sustainable, people need to be engaged. Hence, VIP was design not only will engage people, but also to inspire them to work together to make Malaysia as a better place for all. Over the years, Malaysia’s economic development has benefitted from foreign investment and technology, as well as human resources from overseas. Thus, we believe that the international expert volunteering can offer valuable transferable skills and knowledge that will help enrich the Malaysian social landscape, especially when they work closely with local communities that are addressing local social problems. Envisioned the concept, the overall framework of VIP is developed by combining the main three elements: 1. Stakeholders vision 2. The people, includes the volunteers and the beneficiaries 3. Most pressing social issues. Thus, the general format of VIP is crafted as such to define these elements. VIP is a programme with the approach to attached group of professional volunteers with the project host, to work together in a team and to use their expertise in addressing social issues faced by the local communities, with the aims to evoke a long-term social change aspired by the nation. Through this approach, the programme is guided by the principles of recognition to ideas and constructive comments, equally respect to all members, and value the community based volunteers and shared responsibilities. By adopting these principles, we believe the programme to be more effective and sustainable. Program Structure VIP is a sixteen weeks Fellowship Programme. After identifying the impact projects and the Host organisations, invitation to recruitment volunteers were offered through our portal before they are matched to the respective Impact Project based on their expertise, motivation and interest. The selection and matching of volunteers is done after a comprehensive screening process of all applicants. Two committees were set up to select the impact projects and the volunteers. The committee comprises of various ministries and agencies. Project Evaluation Committee is looking into most possible projects to offer while Volunteer Committee is to screen through and approved as well as to facilitate the volunteers during their stay in Malaysia. Upon arrival of the volunteers, they will begins the fellowship with induction training session where volunteers learn about working with the locals, the social issues, the culture, project management and effective communication that would hone their skills and knowledge. After the induction, volunteers are expected to work in a team of 5 alongside with their Host Organisation, to co-design the project workplan on the social issues and draw a sustainability plan to benefit their beneficiaries in the short term and in the long-run. The host organisation will provide key input, additional resources and host the VIP volunteers in their organisations in order to execute the impact projects. In the early stage of designing and planning, each project team needs to submit a set of target outputs and outcomes. These set will be the base for the secretariat to monitor the progress and achievement during the mid-term review. At the end of the fellowship, each team has to measures the impacts and success stories to be presented and reported to Ministry of Finance. To support this programme, Government provides funding at a minimal cost with the objectives to attract participation from the professionals as well as the NGO. The costs includes: 1. Airfare 2. Visa Cost 3. Modest accommodation 4. Monthly allowance (RM1,500) 5. Travel and medical insurance 6. Small grant to start the project.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Since VIP was announced by Prime Minister of Malaysia in December 2013, being the initiative leader, Ministry of Finance has done lots of engagement with various agencies in turning the idea into the most practical and easy to adopt programme. It is important for all agencies involved to be agile and collaborative, and must widen strong relationship between all stakeholders in order to provide the most innovative solutions. Known as fair process, engagement with relevant civil service, allows diversity of ideas to be translated into such an effective programme. The design of VIP was conceived with this guiding principle. Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Education and Youth are among government agencies to support the programme. Many other ministries and agencies were involved in the two committees set up in approving projects and the volunteers. The whole framework finally brought into and endorsed by NBOS Summit, the highest platform on NBOS decision making. Stakeholders and collaboration partners The NBOS Summit is also requires progress updates on all NBOS initiative. The consistent follow up are to encourage greater participation, collaboration and resource sharing between the relevant stakeholders. It allows the government to be heavily invested in the initiative as the stakeholder of all NBOS initiative. As for VIP, the overall programme is led by Ministry of Finance, whilst other ministries and government agencies will act as the stakeholder in each related projects under the programme. For example, Kuala Lumpur City Hall is the stakeholder for one of the projects related to homeless since they are the collaboration partner in providing space to do activities. Being the host organisation in each VIP projects, NGOs and social enterprises do tremendously contribute to the programme through their commitment in giving insights of the issues, cultural values and assumptions as inputs to the volunteers to design the project plan. Working closely with the volunteers, NGOs will also act as an agent to promote Malaysia as a hub for international volunteering apart for tourism destination. While the volunteers are expected to eventually become indirect ambassadors for Malaysia when they return to their home countries, having been exposed to the beautiful landscape and socio-cultural aspects of Malaysia

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
After two cycles of implementation in 2015 and 2016, VIP has created 18 projects that involve professional volunteers of 58 international and 36 Malaysian. They have worked together with 18 NGOs and social enterprise as host organisation, together with more than 40 partners in completing the projects including universities and corporates. Throughout the 4 months programme engagement, the volunteers have the opportunity to engage local community through events, training and workshops in developing their projects, which in the end benefited around 12,265 people. There are 18 projects as outputs from the 2 cycles of VIP initiative. Among the most successful projects are: 1. Solar Academy The Solar Academy aims to tap into the emerging field of renewable energy, training school leavers or disadvantaged youth not in education, employment or training (NEET) to work in this growing sector. New technicians from these communities will vastly reduce the need for foreign technicians and at the same time enhance the well-being of their households. The VIP volunteers have worked with 32 students from different regions of Malaysia who joined the Solar Academy, providing them with technical skills, theoretical knowledge and practical experience in the solar industry. The students then have the opportunity to spend up to six months performing on the job training. They were also have the opportunity to work on solar installation projects in both rural and urban areas. This project at the end aimed to help young vulnerable group have the opportunity to work in more challenging jobs and at the same time changing people’s perceptions towards them. The ultimate aim is to empower students to help set up sustainable energy solutions within their own communities in the future. 2. “Birth of a Hero” This project helped underprivileged youth to lead a life of dignity and independence by developing character and positive values through Muay Thai martial art and secured employment for youths. 3. “Empowering the Visually Impaired” This project developed training modules for the visually impaired community aimed at building their capacity, increasing public awareness on the issue faced by people with disabilities and thus, improving their employability rate. 4. “Creating Livelihood for the BOP Community” This project rehabilitated and reintegrated the homeless community into society by providing them with employment opportunities. Besides the solution of creating jobs for the homeless, the project also addressed psychosocial issues of the homeless, while equipping them with essential training and personal skills to prepare them for employment. 5. “Creating Livelihood via Agriculture” Rural communities, especially those from marginalised groups such as single mothers, face limited options to make a living in Kulim (northern part of Malaysia). This project created livelihoods via gender-focused, non-labour intensive agriculture for single mothers with young children. Specifically, it created sustainable income streams for this group of women through cottage industries, and empowered them through capacity building and English training. The Volunteers/ Fellows built relationships with the target group, gaining insight into their current socio-economic situations and based on that, the team set up the main infrastructure for a Human Capital Development Centre, as well as training in organic farming skills and laid the foundation for the development of a chili-based cottage industry that created a full supply chain from farm to table. 6. “Community Development Through Innovative Batik Products” This project created a scalable and replicable model for accessible and sustainable employment for low income communities, while bring innovation and global appeal to Malaysian batik, a dying art in this modern culture.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
During the first cycle of implementation, few challenges were identified: 1. Managing the volunteers expectation - Coming from different background and culture, it is a new experiences for the international volunteers to be in Malaysia and to work with a newly team members. 2. Support from other government agencies - although various forms of support were promised at the outset by several agencies, in the end very little practical support was forthcoming for the projects. This created a sense of frustration amongst the volunteers and host organisations and also meant that the projects were less impactful than they might have been in some cases. Thus, improvements were made during the implementation of VIP in cycle 2 based on these challenges and feedbacks from the relevant parties. The improvements among others provide an adequate pre-programme timeline, allocate a dedicated volunteers management team for liaison with volunteers. Besides that, the new vesion of VIP is also looking at the mechanism of knowledge transfer. This is to be embeded in the programme design to be structured to ensure that each volunteer is able to share the maximum amount of knowledge with their hosts for example through knowledge sharing sessions and learning documentation.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
1. Increased income for poor/ marginalised people - Batik boutique - Pua Kumbu 2. Increased employability for poor/ marginalised people - Visually impaired - 3. Increased engagement or self-esteem for disengaged/ vulnerable young people - homeless - birth of a hero 4. Increased public awareness of/ engagement in social and environmental issues Project Yours Truly Kedah - The project is to address the problem or untreated waste faced by a community of 300 homes along the river. Household waste has been routinely dumped into the river for decades and has built up into an enormous pile that creates health problems and inhibits quality of life for the local people, as well as causing harm to the environment. - The project aims to tackle the problem by creating the channels and incentives for the local community as well as the local government to take action. - The project has led the community to: • Recyclables diverted from being thrown into the river; • Less waste in/ to the river; and • More environmental awareness and appreciation 5. Improved support services for marginalised groups (by influencing others)

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Not applicable

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
In the previous 2 cycles of implementation, VIP programme do emphasises on areas impacted women empowerment and vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, rural & urban poor, youth at risks and also homeless through projects such as: 1. Community Development Through Innovative Batik Products. This project created a scalable and replicable model for accessible and sustainable employment for unemployed marginalised women at low cost housing areas while bringing innovation and global appeal to Malaysian batik, which is a dying art in this modern culture. 2. Creating Livelihood via Agriculture. Rural communities, especially those from marginalised groups such as single mothers, face limited options to make a living in Kulim (northern part of Malaysia). This project created livelihoods via gender-focused, non-labour intensive agriculture for single mothers with young children. Specifically, it created sustainable income streams for this group of women through cottage industries, and empowered them through capacity building and English training). 3. This project empowered the community of women in a long house in East Malaysia by preserving and enhancing their family business of Pua Kumbu (a weaving tradition of Sarawak that is close to extinction). This project also raised awareness about the art of Pua Kumbu, increased sales of it and developed online platforms for sales and customer contact.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   National Strategy Unit, Ministry of Finance
Institution Type:   Ministry  
Contact Person:   Nur Azalila Shufa'at
Title:   Mdm  
Telephone/ Fax:   603-88906441/ (F) 603-88906517
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   azalila.shufaat@treasury.gov.my  
Address:   Level 1, Treasury 2, Ministry of Finance Complex, No. 7, Persiaran Perdana, Precinct 2
Postal Code:   62592
City:   W.P. Putrajaya
State/Province:   W.P. Putrajaya
Country:  

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