World Vision has always upheld the simple truth of the saying "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". We carry out livelihood projects in communities around the world and equip poor families with life and livelihood skills, helping them break free of poverty in the long run.
Datuk Henry Yip, CEO of Dragon-i Restaurant Sdn Bhd shares our vision, spurring him to accept the role of World Vision Malaysia Livelihood Advocate. He said: "I believe that helping others build a stable livelihood can help them in building a sustainable life. That’s why I support the work of World Vision and hope that I can influence others to make the world a better place!"
In the past year, the global COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every one of us, and for those who were already living in vulnerable situations, the pandemic has made things even worse. Datuk Henry, who has been in the corporate world for 20 years, also experienced a downturn in business. He is well aware of the difficulties that children, individuals and families will have if livelihoods are affected.
When speaking of this sudden pandemic, Datuk Henry said: "It's really difficult!" Under the pandemic, many companies are facing challenges such as losses, layoffs, and salary cuts. However, from the perspective of a leader, it is even more necessary for him to stay steadfast, stand firmly with his partners, overcome difficulties together, and help each other!
"We are very fortunate that there were no layoffs or salary cuts in 2020", said Datuk Henry as he took a deep breath - only he and his colleagues were aware of how much effort and sacrifice went down behind the scenes to maintain the livelihoods of his employees.
He continued: "The main operating costs lies in manpower and store rents. We had to use our accumulated reserves from past years. At a time like this, employees who are dismissed or laid off will find it difficult to survive. It is better to stay and get through this together." They first retained employees, and then strengthened restaurant SOPs and employee training to increase awareness of pandemic prevention and ensure that everyone knew how to protect themselves and the people around them, including family members and customers.
"We can say that we got through 2020 smoothly. We believe that conditions will gradually improve in 2021, and the economy will recover soon afterwards." Datuk Henry said.
Datuk Henry’s ability to lead his company in surviving this pandemic didn’t come about by fluke. When he was younger, he originally worked as an IT specialist in a well-known local private company. At the time, he met a superior who managed with an iron fist. Working under this person, Datuk Henry learned that he should pay attention to figures and evidence in operation and management processes.
Datuk Henry said frankly that working under his former boss was exhausting; it was not until he founded his own restaurant business and became a leader himself that he suddenly realised the purpose of those strict methods. However, Datuk Henry’s first foray into the restaurant business was not smooth sailing. He initially ran a bakery, but it failed because of a lack of management experience.
The skills, personal and practical experiences he picked up in the workplace, regardless of success or failure, became wisdom and mental resources which would support him throughout his career. He admits that he is not perfect. In the past, when he encountered setbacks, he got help from many people, and only then was he able to achieve better results.
Speaking on the qualities a resilient entrepreneur should have, Datuk Henry cited three main points: "First, you must be honest with yourself. Knowing nothing is not an issue, but you must be a humble learner, then other people will definitely teach you; secondly, you must have passion for your work. Even if you encounter various obstacles, if you can persist with faith and conviction, you will succeed. Third, you must be able to endure hardship. If at the start I had quit because I couldn’t stand my boss’s strictness, I wouldn’t have achieved all I have today." Datuk Henry also hopes to use these words to encourage people who are facing difficulties in their careers.
As a devout Christian, Datuk Henry spoke on how his beliefs helped ease his doubts after the outbreak. He recalled: "In March last year, when the Movement Control Order was implemented, I found inspiration and comfort in my beliefs; suffering is a kind of training, and I also believe that through the various challenges caused by the pandemic, God will be with us at all times." Faith brings inner peace to Datuk Henry and strengthens his confidence.
Now, Datuk Henry hopes to contribute and do his best to help people in need. He is willing to share his experiences to inspire people who may also be facing challenges, helping them overcome the obstacles and difficulties of this time.
Even as Datuk Henry earnestly runs his business, he has not forgotten to give back to society. He understands the principle of using what you gain to give back; he is a longtime supporter of charitable activities, helping communities in need in a personal capacity and through his business. His latest plan is to team up with a group of Christian partners in World Christian Restaurant Ministries to promote the work of serving communities.
He shared: "We have gathered partners in the food and beverage industry to provide resources and technical assistance to communities in need. For example, we have recently planned to provide support to single mothers who are interested in making a living through the food business, training them so that they can master skills and earn income on their own."
Datuk Henry’s interest in encouraging self-reliance among single mothers is consistent with World Vision’s philosophy of “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” when planning community development projects. For example, in Sabah, World Vision Malaysia and its partners assist farmers in growing high-quality soursop. After the fruits are harvested, they can be sold to the market at a reasonable price. This will not only improve the economic situation of families and communities, but also enable them to become self-sufficient. This way, they can enjoy stable, fuller lives in the long run.
Datuk Henry hopes to take every opportunity to collaborate with World Vision in the future, reaching out to people in need. You can join Datuk Henry in helping the vulnerable through World Vision’s Livelihood Fund, equipping communities with the skills and resources they need to improve their livelihoods and provide for the needs of their children. As vulnerable communities learn and master skills, they can secure their family's futures, become self-sufficient, and enjoy life in all its fullness.
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