mcii: malaysian collective impact initiative
Collective impact approach was first pioneered in the United States as a successful social methodology to maximise the systemic impact by bringing together all stakeholders to agree to a common agenda, and to work together in a structured form of collaboration with common measures of success. In Focus talks to Dipti Kumar, CEO of Malaysian Collective Impact Initiative (MCII), an NGO that promotes collective synergies across multiple stakeholders as a sustainable method of impactful change within the education landscape in the country. She believes that the structured collective impact model, along with the passionate and focused support from core members is the winning combination.
1.How did MCII begin and what do you aim to achieve with collective impact?
MCII began when a group of corporate leaders got together in 2014/2015 to share their respective investments in education. As it turns out, they were all keen in supporting education and were doing a vast amount of work in their respective areas of focus. They decided that there must be a way to work together on a larger scale to encourage shared learning, shared impact data and a stronger collective voice to the public and the government. After some exploration and research, they found the Collective Impact model that had grown organically in the USA. This model fits the bill for collective vision perfectly and it was time to bring that vision to Malaysia. Thus, MCII was born!
MCII’s continuously aspires to improve literacy rates in Malaysia and, in the long term, affect larger scale systematic transformation of the education system for Malaysians now and in the future. As a Collective Impact’s timeline is about 12 years, this is a long but fruitful journey that cannot happen without our valuable members like OSK Foundation who drives this vision in order to achieve long term and sustainable national impact.
2. You come from various non-profit organisations across the globe. How do you intend to empower MCII and achieve social change particularly in education?
MCII is all about a collective vision and commitment to education. It requires all stakeholders sitting at the table, being equal and active partners in driving our shared vision.
In any social impact problem statement, there are structural conditions that work together which hold a problem in place. MCII aims to work collaboratively and inclusively with all sectors of society to shift these conditions – from on the ground interventions, deep level community engagement, corporate leadership of the collective, partnerships with the Ministry of Education at all levels and finally building a data collective that allows for more uniform evidence-based strategies across the education ecosystem.
3. How significant is collaboration and cross-sector to your work? What can be gained from taking such an approach?
Collaboration and cross-sector work are key to all that we do. Equity and inclusion are core values that drive our work. MCII is a structured movement for systemic education transformation in Malaysia – and hence all players in the sector play very important roles. The advantages of collaboration are manyfold. Beyond sustainability, collaboration drives cultural change which is the hardest obstacle to overcome.
Our members and partners have benefitted by developing a network of business partners and corporate friends. There is an increased cost efficiency of working together especially because shared learnings allow respective education initiatives to be developed more strategically using data-based evidence. Industry – NGO relationships are stronger which amounts to a stronger representation of community and industry needs in our education vision. Our members have also developed strong business and customer relationships outside MCII, whilst the government has improved relationships with industries, NGOs and communities through regular conversation and being seated on the same side of the table.
4. Who inspires you and how do you translate that inspiration into what you are currently doing? And how does it impact your life?
Throughout my journey, I have been inspired by different personas who have constantly motivated me to commit my time to being part of our global vision for equity in education.
In particular, I am inspired by Puan Sri Maimon Arif who is a visionary founder and member of MCII. I first got to know her through MCII and was compelled by her drive to address real community needs. She is always present, and motivated me personally and professionally to drive more sustainable impact. As many in the NGO sector will attest to, working in this space can sometimes feel like a lonely and thankless journey. Her presence and the values she stands for constantly reassures me that there are countless other committed and genuine leaders in this space on whom we can lean for renewed motivation.
Personally, knowing Puan Sri Maimon, Datin Kathleen Chew, Cheryl Ong and Quek Sue Yian have shown me how strong Malaysian women are making strides to make Malaysia a better place. Such exemplary role models are important, not only to me, but to future generations of young Malaysian women to stand up and stand strong for what matters.
5. What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered, in running MCII?
Collaboration on a large scale always has its challenges – how do you iron out a large-scale collaboration with hundreds of stakeholders? Resistance to collaboration is common. Collective Impact provides a structured model to address this.
MCII is a pioneer Collective Impact in the region – meaning it is the first of its kind in Asia. With any new concept, the biggest challenges are driving mindset change for a shared vision, breaking down silos and increasing the awareness of collective advantages. The small strides we have been able to make with each of these challenges show us that Malaysians are collaborative and united in spirit, and all want to play an active part for a better Malaysia.
6. In which ways can people get involved to support MCII?
MCII is a movement for systemic education transformation in Malaysia. I invite each of you, who want to play an equal and active role in this movement, to join us!
Businesses and foundations can support us by becoming members who drive our strategic vision and spread our message of united transformation, alongside funding our movement.
Public servants who care for long term and systemic improvement of the lives of Malaysians can collaborate with us on policy discussions.
Individuals, communities and educationists can volunteer their time and resources to contribute on-the-ground interventions with direct beneficiaries.
Above all, Collective Impact is an inclusive model for all sectors of society – drop us a note today and we will facilitate your contribution such that it plays an important role in driving our nation forward.