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Showing posts from June, 2010

Thinking About Microfinance

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I'm a little embarrassed that until this past weekend, I hadn't read Muhammad Yunus' Banker to the Poor. It was one of those glaring gaps into my personal and professional development that, looking back, is completely inexplicable. I probably shouldn't even be admitting this in public but I suppose it's never too late to get with the program.

When I have a few moments to myself these days, I often find myself thinking about current aid structures and imagining how things might be different with the introduction of microfinance. Just this morning on my run, I was listening to a This American Life collaboration with Planet Money about NGOs in Haiti. They tell the story of a local mango farmer who has the land and the water for one hundred mango trees but needs a small canal to expand her business and the mango exporter who wants to distribute plastic crates to mango farmers because better packing methods would double his and the farmers' income.

The canal-buildi…

5 minutes, 5 Easy Ways = Better English

Just 5 minutes to improve


Tips for improving your level of English. That’s what today’s piece is about.

It all came about during a session with an inspiring group of working adults in, what I would call a "prestigious" body in KL.

I shared some of the tips that I had successfully used over the years with students. At the end of it all, there was one request to have them written out. It shows how serious he is in improving himself, and I do admire him for it.

The better your level of English when you communicate with customers, the better the impression you leave on them. So, here are five simple tips that just needs an investment of five minutes per activity. Good luck!

1. Write for five minutes each day
Write on any topic that you like. It could be about what you did yesterday, your plans for the weekend, the colour blue, your ambitions, etc.

The sentences do not have to be perfect. The whole paragraph does not have to flow well. This is just a practice session to let the wor…

Rural Champion Moms Unite 2010

Singing, dancing, clapping, cheering, good food and above all inspiring stories made a terrific event celebrating rural moms.

Moms from all parts of Malaysia were nominated for the RURAL CHAMPION MOMS UNITE 2010 and the winners represented many different cultural groups all with one common aim: to make Malaysia a better place for the less fortunate.

The winners represented the many dedicated and inspiring moms who give not only to their families but also to their communities.

A snapshot of all the hardworking mom winners is here. Women with 8 children, who still had time to give to their community, women with very little education yet helping others to learn, highly educated women giving their time freely not only in Malaysia but also in less well developed countries such as Cambodia, women keeping crafts and cultures alive, women who trekked through deep almost impenetrable jungle to reach long houses and promote literacy and education.

Wow! Their stories were breathtaking.

When …

It All Depends On How You Look At It

You know the saying, two people can look at a glass of water, one will say the cup is half full while the other will see the cup as half empty? In other words, two people can look at the same thing but have different perceptions on the same thing. The optimist will see the good in things while the pessimist will see the bad in things.

Well, I choose to be an optimist. Even though I have SLE and am now undergoing dialysis three times a week, I choose to see myself as blessed. I may not be working full-time and I may not earn as much as some of my friends, but I have a pretty nice life. I live with my family and I earn enough for my own expenses. Right now, I'm trying to save as much money as possible, so I try to spend less most days.

Lot's of people will say someone is my situation has to be either depressed or suicidal but not me. I used to be depressed and negative about my situation but not anymore! What's the point of constantly comparing yourself with people more fortun…

Communication Is The Big Secret

“She only ordered my products a year after I had met her,” explained the young entrepreneur.

“He didn’t need my services. But he did recommend them to his network of contacts,” declared another lady who had ventured out into the catering services on a small scale.

That’s what a couple of persons have told me over the past few months. You must be wondering what their secret to attracting customers is.

These are hardworking individuals who are passionate about their products and services. There is one other thing that I’ve noticed about them.

The way they communicate with people.

When they take up a booth at a small bazaar, they don’t just focus on a one-off sale. Its not just a “What is in it for me right now?” attitude.  

Instead they communicate well with buyers and those who are obviously just window-shopping for the day. These smart entrepreneurs ask the right questions, they offer suggestions and help, and take criticism with a smile.

Home entrepreneurs seem to be born with the ski…