Sitting across the table from me is a young man with an air of confidence. He’s well groomed and smartly attired and I could easily picture him at work on his laptop in an executive office. Even though his appearance may give you a clue about his career, it does not reveal anything about one of his main interests.
Believe it or not, when this young professional is not diligently working as an Investment Officer for Brunei Investment Agency, he is repairing dilapidated homes; building chicken coops; collecting recyclable materials or doing underwater clean ups and coral restoration. Why does he do all this? Because he wants to make a positive impact on the lives of impoverished people living in Brunei, but more importantly, he wants to provide them with more than a quick, temporary fix. His goal is to equip underprivileged people with sustainable solutions which will eventually help them to achieve a better way of life.
Finding ways to Empower
Meet Anwar Mohammed the Chairman and founder of SCOT (Society for Community Outreach & Training) an NGO which started in 2011. Anwar came up with the idea for this organisation while he was doing his Degree in Economics at UBD. He was given an assignment entitled, “Underlying causes of poverty in Brunei” and as he explained, “We had to visit many rural areas to collect information for this assignment. It was then that I realised that there were many people who lived in poverty and needed help.”
And even though this was an eye opening experience for Anwar he said, “one of the most amazing things about the people that I met was their kindness. Many of them were quite poor and had very little but still welcomed us into their homes. I decided that I had to do something to help them.”
Perseverance paves the way
Over the past four years Anwar and his team have spent a great deal of time talking to the people who live in villages, listening to their problems and trying to find long term creative solutions for them, while at the same time, working tirelessly to gain awareness and support for their organisation.
Anwar admitted that in the beginning it was challenging to get investors to support their cause but he was determined not to give up. He smiled when he recalled, “We must have taken our proposal to Boon Teck Lim at HSBC at least 15 times before he approved our project. He taught us the importance of “getting it right” and since then HSBC has been the sole supporter of both of our “Green” projects.” He also added that, “Datin Adina and Professor Zul from UBD have been instrumental in assisting us. They’ve encouraged us to be more proactive and have supported us every step of the way.”
Realising his Vision
In spite of having quite a demanding job, Anwar somehow finds the time and energy to focus on SCOT’S projects. Driven by his passion to help those in need, Anwar and his team have pioneered four core projects -: The Green Xchange project which encourages people to exchange recyclable materials for basic commodities like rice; SCOT Education Project which teaches basic English to underprivileged people in Brunei and Cambodia; and Green Xchange H20 (GXH2O) which helps with propagating the coral reefs of Brunei; and SCOT Agriculture which provides resources for families to start farms. Anwar explained that, “Our current team is made up 40 professionals from various disciplines, ranging from engineers to accountants. Everyone is working together to come up with even more sustainable ways to help the underprivileged.” With Anwar’s sheer willpower and determination – he’s sure to accomplish his mission!