• Madani Sahari

Creating equal access to opportunities

The adage "the rich get richer, the poor get poorer" - typically attributed to the more sinister side of capitalism - has some truth to it. This piece is by no means an argument on the merits or demerits of capitalism, but rather a look into the ability to grab opportunities in an "equal" world.

I am blessed that my work gives me a view of the inner workings of a massive industry. Most of all, I am honoured to meet many of the most successful people in the country, region and on some occasions, the world.

We have seen and heard the stories. Most successful personalities have the ability to break through norms and wade through gigantic hurdles to achieve the unthinkable. They reached the moon, redefined transportation and reinvented life through the game changing technology.

With there is no intention to undermine such great achievement, it is also important to spare some thought that the struggles of life are highly subjective. For some, an uncharged phone battery may cause some struggle, but for others,  a home without basic necessities can become a way of life.

Unfortunately, economic prejudice is often be dismissed as a by-product of capitalism. It is easy to judge someone as unsuccessful simply by his or her social status. They can be accused of being unproductive, uninterested or simply making wrong life choices.

For example, entrepreneurship is not something we are born with despite it seemingly considered a "sixth sense" that some may possess above others.

In this particular case, I would argue this entrepreneurship is often a product of long term conditioning. If you come from a culture, family or circle that has entrepreneurship tendencies, there is a high likelihood you will learn the trade from those in your environment.

Another example is language. Have you ever wondered why that friend you have speaks excellent Malay or English?The most likely reason is that he grew up around people who spoke these languages.

This brings me back to the subject of poverty. If you are blessed with food, shelter, and perhaps a computer and internet at home, the access to technology becomes a non-issue, allowing you to achieve bigger things. If getting food is your daily struggle, you may not find the time to even think about your choices between an iOS or an Android.

It is for this very reason that upward social mobility should be looked at holistically. For the poor, their struggles often keep them trapped in their income class, whether they are single mothers, orphans or people of disabilities.

Malaysia Automotive Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) recently launched its corporate social responsibility programme called TransforMARii.

It is a one-year programme to help underprivileged households to become financially sustainable in the future.

Through TransforMARii, these families receive assistance to improve their social upward mobility.

They receive continuous assistance through job matching, small and micro business coaching and facilitation, high value service enhancement (such as e-commerce platforms and smart handicrafts), talent development programmes and others.

As we move aggressively into the era of connected mobility, we cannot leave anyone behind.

The upcoming National Automotive Policy aims to make the industry all-inclusive in terms of opportunity. And to that end, we must truly keep to that mindset of ensuring opportunity is equal and accessible.

I hope we can make the world a better place as we move closer to becoming an advanced nation.

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