Hi, My name is Suren Huan Feng a Year 2 Undergraduate in Mechanicals, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering. I have a keen interest in social entrepreneurship and the concept of sustainability, balancing the people, planet and profit in an organisation or a business.
Exposure to SERUM
I began to hear about SERUM during my involvement with Enactus, an organisation that promotes sustainability in business. SERUM and EnactusUNM collaborated on a fundraising campaign, providing hygiene kit for the rural, urban poor and marginalised community during the pandemic. I was fascinated that someone is finally taking action with the problem rather than complaining about it. I asked myself how can I be a part of it other than being a fundraiser.
Anticipation of the Expansion of SERUM
I started to follow the Instagram profile of SERUM, understanding their activities and the people in the team. I found out that ShyKit was the founder. This was mindblowing to me as I had an early encounter with ShyKit in February 2018 where we participated in the Young Changemakers Gathering (YC). Basically, he was my role model as he showed me that engineering student can involve themselves in social changes.
Somehow knowing ShyKit was the founder and understanding the demand on hygiene kits for the people who are barely living, I anticipated there might be a possibility on the expansion of the SERUM Team. I pitched this idea to EnactusUNM but was dismissed due to a lack of proper evidence. I remember the disappointment in my own organisation when SERUM opened for recruitment.
When SERUM opened for recruitment, I’ve been involved in multiple roles and responsibilities in various clubs and societies. Fortunate for my case, I was willing to take the extra mile by pushing my limits. I monitored the situation and my degree of freedom. I saw a silver lining in my schedule and decided to join SERUM.
Initiate and Interview
As the recruitment was called on ShyKit’s Instagram, I dropped him a message and directed him to my LinkedIn profile as I just had finished tailoring my profile. I was nervous during the meeting, but since I have met ShyKit we conversed casually and went through some details on the role of Product Development. He mentioned that I will receive an email if shortlisted and Nin will contact me on the procedures.
After 2 weeks, I received a text message from Nin about being shortlisted and we scheduled a meeting on the navigation of SERUM’s communication channel and documentation. After that, I participated in the team meeting and received a warm welcome from everyone. Everyone is friendly and excited about the new recruits. The excitement influenced me and thus I officially began my journey with SERUM.
Project #1: Face Mask Research
I was briefed on my first task is to develop the 3-ply face mask to be a more modern face mask. I was sceptical at the time as I understood there were several uprising facemask developers and it would be a highly competitive demographic. I started to understand the composition of face mask and the requirement set by the World Health Organisation. I compiled all my findings and shared them with the team. The team decided to keep with the current development and focus on finding reliable fabric suppliers.
Project #2: CNY 2021
Chinese New Year was closing by and the SERUM team decided to come up with a seasonal promotional pack. The team brainstormed on some ideas and came out with a plan to make things fun and interesting rather than the conventional idea. I was amazed by the marketing team as they had the most creative individuals and interesting ideas on making Instagram feed posts. In the Product Development Team, I was tasked to seek crackers and cookies suppliers for the promotional pack. At the moment, I just had a network full of entrepreneurs from a previous learning programme by BAC. I reached out to a few of them and secured with a supplier who was a homemaker in Puchong that is willing to make the small batch of crackers. During that time, I made a major mistake by ordering the wrong product. I made a sincere apology to the team and was fortunate enough to receive acceptance despite my mistakes. That’s when I fully committed myself to SERUM.
Project #3: Reusable Sanitary Pad
As my task came to an end, I had a thought on empowering the young females as I made a deduction where if there are people who couldn’t afford hygiene kits; there would be definitely women who couldn’t afford female hygiene products. Thus, I started a conversation with the SERUM team and received positive feedback which gave me the courage to move forward with the idea of developing female hygiene product specifically sanitary pads.
As a male, I definitely wouldn’t able to fully empathise with menstruation. Fortunately, I was surrounded by supportive women around me. I was able to speak about this project with my friends and family without any judgements. I delve into deeper research into the process of menstruation, what exactly is happening and what kind of pain and discomfort that women face every 28 days.
Reusable Sanitary Pad was a very recent trending product and I figured we could deliver reusable sanitary pads to the women who couldn’t afford the monthly purchase of disposable sanitary pad. Moreover, I was able to know one of the Malaysian social enterprise Athena Empowers that produces reusable sanitary pads. ShyKit the founder and managing director personally knows the founder of Athena Empowers, Ms Anja. ShyKit arranged the meet with Ms Anja and received a lot of information and market potential for developing the product.
After that Amalina from the Fundraising Team had a connection with the Rohingya Women Development Network and they actually were looking for a development team to validate the reusable sanitary pad that is safe to use. I spoke to Ms Nasha who was the representative of RWDN and made an agreement to advance their reusable sanitary pad.
End of Chapter
Inspired by the team and the upcoming future, I decided to end my journey with SERUM. It was the most toughest decision that I have to make as I really enjoyed the vibe and team culture. Thus, if the time is right and SERUM is looking for expansion, I might come back and apply my newly developed skills, knowledge and connections that enable SERUM to be a landmark in the Malaysian social enterprise ecosystem.