Thomas Ng, Founder and CEO, Genashtim Innovative Learning

Thomas Ng, Founder and CEO, Genashtim Innovative Learning

In this episode of The Brand Called You, we have with us Mr. Thomas Ng, the Founder and CEO of Genashtim Innovative Learning, an organization that has been recognized and felicitated globally.

Podcast

Overview

Motivation can come from anywhere, you just have to keep your mind open for it. In this episode of The Brand Called You, we have with us Mr. Thomas Ng, the Founder and CEO of Genashtim Innovative Learning, an organization that has been recognized and felicitated globally. He is a partner with RAISE SG, the Singapore center for social enterprise. He is also a part of YPO.

Thomas founded Genashtim Innovative Learning in 2008 with a simple view to put disabled people of lesser developed economies into employment. Since the disabled people were from lesser developed economies, it was hard for team Genashtim to bring them to office. At that time they came up with the idea to give them work from home. They provided them the training online through e-learning back in 2008. Thomas says that he does not consider himself to be visionary, he came up with those ideas because of the limitations he had.

He was inspired to build a company to help the people with disabilities to stand on their own through an NGO which taught computers to the blind.

Discussion

What was the motivation to build the organization that provides learning support to WD, LGBTQ, seniors etc.

Thomas recalls his life when he was 47 years old. He tells us that he had been working in a corporation for 25 years then. He was living a good life but wasn’t satisfied with it because he felt that he wasn’t achieving anything. So he finally decided to take some time off his work life. His dreams were shattered when he found out that he had a Garden Leave Clause in his contract, so he had no choice but to follow it for a year. He tells us that he had often been invited by fellow members or mates to join their boards of NGOs. An NGO caught his eye when he saw a presentation on how they used to teach computers to the blind people. It was efficient but not effective. The training was good but after that the blind would go back to his life and did not use his computer skills at all. To solve that, Thomas thought of giving them employment. He introduced them to all of his friends but it was not fruitful. At that time Thomas decided to start a company and put them to work.

 

Challenges

Talking about early days of his start up, Thomas says that he was struggling with everything. The concept of e-leaning was new so it was hard to pull off, it was a challenge to convince people that working without an office is possible, hiring people with disabilities who are complete freshers etc, everything was coming as a challenge for them. They were also having conflicts among the employees so it was getting hard to manage. Later, they started to realize that it is their company and they have to be united. Genashtim was in loss for six years straight, but now Thomas says that they are good.

 

Success Stories

Thomas tells us about four people. First he tells us a quite motivating story about Ryan. Ryan was diagnosed with polio at the age of 2. He is completely on a wheelchair, he is blind in one eye and has a partially working arm. He ran a small business to do printing for local stores. He was Thomas’s first hire. Today, he is running a production department and many people are working under him. He has done a job for the government of Singapore. He has also worked for Microsoft. He is financially stable and is living a good life.

The second person he tells us about Willy, who turned blind at the age of 18. He was teaching in his wife’s special needs school. Thomas hired him and he used to do English coaching for them. He is now in his 11th year in the company. Today he manages two departments with over 20 people working under him.

The third story is about his executive assistant, Nadia. She has cerebral palsy. Below her neck, she can only move the tip of her finger, not even the whole finger and with that she works.

His final story is about Therese, who is on a ventilator 27/7. She is completely paralysed down her neck ,so she operated the computer by her voice. She is working as a client support for E-Cornell. She manages the people from different countries, who apply to study there.

Thomas tells us that today he has 140 people working from home across almost 20 countries. They are serving clients in more than 10 countries. Thomas has no office anywhere. Only because of technology are they able to work from where they are.

 

Managing people from different cultures

Thomas considers it to be quite a challenging task. To solve this, he has developed the Genashtim culture. They have told everybody that they respect everybody’s background, but to work together they will have to leave everything behind and adopt the Genashtim culture. It took effort but it is going good.

 

Managing younger generation

Thomas says, though he was almost 50 when he started Genashtim, he had a lot of millenials in his team, his freshly graduated daughter and other girls of similar age. They were always searching for solutions and for new plans etc so it was always good working with them.

 

RAISE SG

RAISE SG is the social enterprise authority of Singapore. The enterprises have to apply and get themselves listed with them to be certified social enterprises. RAISE SG approached Genashtim Innovative Learning to outsource work to them. When an enterprise applies in RAISE SG, Genashtim interviews them and sends their reports to the management. RAISE SG approached Genashtim because they are among the top B-cop certified enterprises.

Three milestones in Thomas’s career

Thomas says that he comes from a lower middle class family. He managed to get a good University and worked hard to support his life there. That was the first break he had and he considers it to be a milestone. He considers the bond between him and his wife to be a milestone he has achieved. Starting this company is the third milestone in Thomas’s career.

Thomas believes sincerity, authenticity and integrity are the values that are most important to him. He adds that substance over form is something he truly believes in.

Profile

Anuradha Kapoor is the Founder and Director of Swayam, a feminist organization committed to advancing women’s rights and ending gender inequality and violence against women, established in May 1995.  

Swayam’s multi-faceted approach to addressing violence includes direct support to women in crisis; emphasis on empowering women, men, and youth to address violence in their communities; broad campaigns, training, research, and publications to shift social and cultural norms that perpetuate gender-based violence; and work at the state and national level with government and judicial bodies to influence policy and practices. 

Anuradha is an Ashoka Fellow, an Eisenhower Fellow, and was a member of the Civil Society Advisory Group for UN Women’s Multi-Country Office for India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.

She is an activist, trainer, and consultant for women and human rights organizations, academic institutions, and UN agencies and has co-authored articles, research, and manuals on the issue of violence against women. She has also co-edited ‘The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, a Litigation Guide and Compilation of Judgements in 2015. She was a speaker on the online course Confronting Gender-Based Violence: Global Lessons for Healthcare Workers’ conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Clinical Global Health Education. 

Anuradha is actively involved in advocacy on women’s rights and keenly advocated for the introduction of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, and has since been working to ensure its effective implementation at the State and National levels. She has contributed towards other legal and policy initiatives including the Civil Society Alternative Report for India to the CEDAW Committee in 2014 and to numerous laws related to violence against women being introduced/revised in India namely laws dealing with Sexual Assault, Dowry Prohibition, and Marital Property Rights. She also made submissions to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and the Justice Verma Committee in 2013, and to the Parliamentary Committee on the controversial proposed amendments of Section 498A in 2011.

Anuradha has been invited to speak on issues related to violence against women at various workshops and seminars conducted by organizations working on women’s rights and human rights issues in India and abroad. These include women’s rights courses conducted by Women’s Studies Departments in Calcutta University and Jadavpur University, a panel by UN Women during the Commission on the Status of Women in 2015, at international conferences on Human Rights, Equality and Gender issues at the University of Connecticut, USA organized by the UNESCO Chair in 2006, 2008 and 2013 and at The 2nd International Conference on the Training of the Judiciary’ organized by the National Judicial Institute, Canada. She was also invited as an expert to the Global Technical Consultation on the Coordination and Governance of Essential Services to respond to violence against women and girls, in 2015 in Spain organized by UN Women as well as on numerous technical advisory committees of UN women and other organizations.

A believer in alliance building, Anuradha initiated the setting up of AMAN Global Voices for Peace in the Home, an international network of organizations working on Domestic Violence, and has initiated and coordinated national-level campaigns against violence on women and girls.

As part of the Asia Pacific Forum on Judicial Education on Equality Issues, Anuradha was involved in conducting Judicial Training in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh with judges and judicial officers from the High Courts and District Courts.

Anuradha has a Bachelors’s Degree in Commerce from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi. She schooled at La Martiniere for Girls in Calcutta.

Anuradha Kapoor, Founder & Director, Swayam

Anuradha Kapoor is the Founder and Director of Swayam, a feminist organization committed to advancing women’s rights and ending gender inequality and violence against women, established in May 1995. 

Podcast

Overview

A woman continually breaking glass ceilings, we have with us Ms. Anuradha Kapoor a feminist and a constant supporter and worker of woman rights and female empowerment. Anuradha is the Founder and Director of Swayam- a committee dedicated to advancing women’s rights and ending gender inequality. She is an activist, trainer, and consultant.

With her initiative- Swayam, Anuradha has helped many survivors of violence and given them a platform to reinvent themselves in a safe and secure environment. In conversation with Ashutosh Garg, Anuradha shares the story of Swayam and why such feminist initiatives are the need of the hour in a heavily patriarchal society. Tune in for a much-needed discussion around the subject of patriarchy and how it is etched in every culture, religion, group, society, and family. Learn about the striking work that Anuradha is doing towards making a shift in the gender imbalance prevalent in society. 

About Swayam:

Swayam is a feminist organization set up by Ms. Anuradha Kapoor in order to end violence against women and gender inequality in society. It was set up 26 years ago when the subject of gender equality was not as evident as it is today. Anuradha felt the need to help women get out of this violence and inequality and stand against it. Swayam works on two strong bases. 

  1. Helping violence survivors and providing them with services such as counseling, legal support, and employment.
  2. Creating awareness in order to prevent violence against women and gender inequality in society.

Over the past decade, Swayam has helped a lot of survivors fight for a dignified life. 

Profile

After having spent 25 years as a senior international executive, in roles like Regional MD, CEO and Country Manager, in Europe, Asia, and Australia, with major multinational companies Asea Brown Boveri and Rexam plc, Thomas decided to leave his decadent lifestyle in 2004, to do something for the people that the corporate world had left behind.

Today, Genashtim operates 100% remotely, providing online learning and support services globally. About 60% of its staff are people with different disabilities, 25% are refugees, and another 10% are LGTBQ and seniors, all working from the comfort, safety and convenience of their homes across more than 10 countries. Genashtim’s mission is to Leverage Technology and the Internet to Connect Marginalised Communities to the Global Economy. Initiatives have also started with girls rescued from the sex trade, ex-convicts, lepers, the HIV-infected, and women in oppressed environments.

Clients of Genashtim include multinational companies like Microsoft, ABB, idsMed, BCIAsia, McDonalds, Google, Herbalife, Linde, Jollibee, DHL and Holiday Inn, and institutions like the Ministries of Education, HR, and Finance, and Taylor’s University in Malaysia, and the Singapore Business Federation, SSG, WSG, Singapore Tax Academy, Singapore Public Utility Board, and the Civil Service College in Singapore.

For what it does, Genashtim has received recognition from many international organizations like UNESCAP, the ICEVI, The Nippon Foundation, The ESSL Foundation, and the Young Presidents Organization.

Genashtim has also been published internationally in newspapers in Singapore, Malaysia, Belgium, Morocco, Colombia, and also in Forbes and in a couple of German Government publications.

Since being certified a B Corp in 2015, Genashtim has been selected “Best for the World” among B Corps for 4 consecutive years. In the inaugural Brands for Good in Singapore in 2018, Genashtim was declared champion for Diversity and Inclusivity. 

In 2018, Genashtim was appointed as B Market Builder representing the B Corp movement in Singapore & Malaysia. A year later, Genashtim partnered with the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center (MaGIC), to promote B Corp certification in Malaysia. 

Genashtim has also been appointed by the Singapore Business Federation and the Singapore Business Federation Foundation to run workshops to convince SMEs in Singapore to incorporate ESG into their business.

As a YPO member since 1999, Thomas served in leadership for 18 years. He was elected SEA Regional Chair for YPO Gold 2010-2012, during which time his region was awarded Best Region in the World. In his later years in YPO, Thomas was pushing the ESG agenda. He was a YPO Global Impact Awardee in 2016, and in 2020 he founded the first Social Impact Chapter in YPO.

Thomas is also a committee member in the ASEAN Responsible and Inclusive Business Alliance (ARAIBA), and one of the Founding Global Advisors for The Knowledge Pledge.

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