Friday, October 18, 2013

A Reflection on Global Startup Youth

About 500 youth around the world was gathered at Kuala Lumpur start yesterday, Oct 8.

The keynote speakers, facilitators, kept talking about the program’s primary objective is to breed a new generation of entrepreneurs which been able to solve some world problems in education, health, women empowerment and the environment.

The expectations are very high, as I start to wonder how in the less than 72 hours, each team, which at least got 10 people around the world were able to come out with an app to solve a particular problem’s addressed.

My teammate from Philippine, Franz have said that the program is just like Startup Weekend but its kind much more challenging because the organiser gave an expectation for us to come out with the prototype of an app by the end of the program and make a pitching to compete for the ideas among the teams.

Like the other team, my team included youth from USA, Philippine, India, Malaysia, Cameroon and Jamaica. And till now we are still waiting for the arrival of our Jamaican teammate since he got some issues about his flight ticket. He’s a coder for our team.

But it's OK, we still proceed even our group only got one coder  Franz, or we simply called a programmer. Sound hard right?

Paused.

Guys, Dwayne just arrived. So our story's gonna be a bit different. It was the 2nd day of GSY.

It is intense while everyone got ideas on what the environmental problem that we need to solve through our app. One guy said we need to address a wastage food problem, the other one suggested about a trash-tracking app, also got an idea about endangered species conservation.

Mine, I have gone for the notion about practising a low-carbon lifestyle.

A second, we have an excellent welcome dinner after all!

Making short, our group solidly chooses to present the idea of how the web-based app can save many endangered species in the world.

Basically, the app was named as AniBuddy, a combination of animal and buddy which means the app will prepare a platform for the users to adopt an animal or more by making donations to feed, preserve their habitats and cure the diseases.

When this idea was pop-up, the very first question is, the existing app or kind of online adoption is enormous and already boost by the establishment like WWF, LionsTigersandBears.com to name a few and much more.

Our difference is, AniBudy offering the users to make online donations, adopt the animals and keep updating the animals progress through pictures and videos, and purposely they were able to show-off their adopt animals in all social medias they have. Sound crazy right?

OK, let’s talk about the target market. We are targeting Western teenagers, or just put the North America teenagers which most of them viable to the internet connection.

The statistic by the Pew Research Center said, 93% of American teenagers from 12 to 17 years old go online and also give the same percentage of youth from 18 to 29 years old.

The most interesting facts, Kaiser Family Foundation state they are on average 10 hours and 45 minutes online every day.

How this app gonna get a donation from youth? Aren’t they capable of doing so?

Yes, absolutely. According to 2012 Millennial Impact Report, there is about 75% of young adult in North America was make online donations and 1% from that preferably make online donations to help endanger species and environment.

And the interesting part is, most of the American youth got their own credit card since the high school, which 42% of students there already own the credit card. The number was huge, the market was there. The only left blank is the app must be built in a very excellent user experience and gave some value add-up compare to the existing platform.

Human tend to share something funny online as long it makes them laugh. We use a funny meme as our animal profiles as the attraction for users to share their donation activities through AniBuddy to their friends and encourage their online networking to do the same!

Basically, this is the rough idea which it still needed for a very in-depth research especially when we questioning about the feasibility of the national parks to manage the donations and keep updating the animals progress.

We do have a milestone for the first stage that is the donations will enough to save at least 8 endanger animals. It about to reach some amount of money and put it onto a responsible body to manage the donations and saving the species at African continent.

Just forgot about the app, let move to the pitching day. We practice and practice, and myself busying with all the data and figures. Agnes was done her part pretty well. Franz, Valeri and Dwayne also did a fantastic job. The market research team also did a great job ya. In less than 36 hours, the app was build!

I still remember when Franz said on the very first day, the expectation by GSY organiser is seemed impossible. By the way, we and all GSY participants make it through.

The pitching session, we are the last team in line. The pitching is not so great since it does not reach my expectation. Yes, it is frustrated when your team is not being questioned enough by the judges, and we really don’t have a chance to explain our market research of why we did this app compare to other ideas on the environment.

During the award dinner – and this is the last dinner for GSY, all of us eager to know which team will win the best app for each category.

We lost eventually. Fuck it, I hate that moment for sure.

I told Agnes I wish to jump on my chair if we were announced as a winner. But God didn’t grant us. By the way, the winner for environment category is not really bad. They come out with a very good idea on how to convince and encourage peoples to plant trees.

I love that idea. It seems like supporting my proposal in my last article, Of Deforestation in Malaysia on how could we get more peoples to plant trees by making it fun do to so. They named it as PlantIt, by having a crowd fund to plant a tree for a particular location they tiny.

For me it sounds impressive without denying this idea might need more deep research. I met their team leader, and wish them luck for grand pitching tomorrow.

Global Startup Youth goes beyond my expectations. I should be grateful for the chance I got to be part of this great event in this year. I joined some international gathering this year, and GSY is one of the best at the moment  without including Global Power Shift, that much more awesome, to be honest.

I do appreciate since I am one of 250 Malaysian among 500 participants around the world. It was fully sponsored by the Malaysian government, so I went there on the capacity of Malaysian taxpayer money. That was the people’s money undoubtedly that government poured on us as a future investment to build a fully equip startup ecosystem in this country.

Using this statement, I should confess my broken heart towards some my fellow Malaysians who didn’t appreciate this opportunity and took it like, “I didn’t pay for any cent here so why I need to be a serious man? Enjoy the food, going to party and sleep at the 5-star hotel!” and the embarrassing one when you met someone who said, “Bro, why you so serious with all these GES talks? Chill man, 3 hari bukan boleh ubah apa-apa pun?!”.

That’s it. Period.

It’s all about attitude.

I didn’t take for granted of all these craps, but I think it is wise enough to remind these craps about the cause of these bullshit attitude towards this nation building in next couple of years.

Please, friends, behave with your words.

We need to realise the importance and urgency of this Summit and GSY mainly. As mentioned by Jonathan Ortmans in his writing for Special Edition of GES, this summit mainly focusing on how the policymakers are able to fine-tune their interest and reactions towards the development of entrepreneurial around the world especially in education, technology, communication, finance and lot more to named.

I put my thought on the Global Startup Youth as the pledge of Malaysian government towards this race. How GSY became the pledge, it was up to us to young generations of this country to answer precisely.

I kept believing in my government, as I put a high hope on my colleagues to behave with a right attitude towards this opportunity.

For Dash and all GSY team, thanks for your restless efforts.

I still remember when I met Dash for the first time in Rio de Janeiro last March during Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2013 and say hello to him after he delivered his talk at one of the fringe events there.

He was announced about the GSY-thing, as he said in next October 2013, Kuala Lumpur will host 500 youths around the world for a biggest ever boot camp.

Each country will be represented by two exceptional selected youth. I said to myself, I need to be one of them and to be part of that event. Yes, I make it at last. The opportunity didn’t come twice. During GEC2013, I still on the blur-phase about all these startup stuff and entrepreneurial-thing. Fortunately, this GSY just put me actually on the clear-water state, oh GOD thanks for this golden opportunity!

I met a lot of cool peoples around the world during GSY.

A party-maniac guy from Jamaica, a cool buddy from Cameroon, a stylish New York girl, a talkative Law girl from India, ambitious Pakistani guy, a do-not-know-how-to-stop-talking Moroccan guy, a half-Malaysian from New Zealand, a Filipinos geeks, some of French guys, lovely Latinos, and all of awesome peoples I met there.

I met Jennifer again, as usual, she is always inspiring and fully motivated!

I met Michael Teoh and told him my dream to go to Antarctic. I met David McLauglin, a guy from Google and told him my adoration towards +Project Loon and some other fascinating project like to prevent death.

Its sound ambitious and impossible, but as Larry Page said, Google is always a bit more ambitious compare to other company. It is awesome!

I love the plenary session for the 2nd day of GES. I hate few speakers from Malaysia who pretending like a hero, but actually a real succumb of bigotry, king of monopoly and politically linked to those in government for their personal interest and wealth. If you know what I meant.

A moment, please.

I try not to mentioned some of mismanaged and wrongdoing by some of GSY team, after your great work here. But this one is exempted, I still can't forgive a guy who responsible hold my GES security pass on the first day after my security check done. Shit man, you just mess up my 1st day of GES!

I lied to the police to get struck into the building after being caught at the front door of KLCC for didn’t have any security pass. It took me at least two hours to settle down everything before I manage to get the new one.

Thanks to Mariano, a mentor for Group 2 helping me for this. I don’t get why you ask us to let you hold our security pass, just like we don't seem capable to kept by our own. And the worse scenario is my friend told me you just lost it when she asks you about the security pass on the last day of GSY. To this guy, good job man, please keep it up!

Anyway, this is really an excellent experience. Not to mention about the last minute friendship at Marini’s On 57, bunch of laugh and ideas, Kit-Kat everywhere, hugs and loves and final goodbye to all major goosebumps I had ever met.

My two cents for GSY, kudos to Dash and teams. We are talking about the very little part of the nation building, and the big thing ahead is how to ensure this country is on the right track to prepare and breed a full equip ecosystem for startup. Sometimes we need a bit change to make the breath clear and sound.

I am absolutely sure Dash and teams have the answer.

See ya at Moscow and Morocco next year!

Note: I start to write this on the first day of GSY and end the writing 4 days after GES. I just too lazy to re-write the article so I kept the introduction. At first, I think it should be my GSY journal, then end up as a reflection on the whole event including GES.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Of Deforestation in Malaysia

Deforestation is a tough guy to beat in environmental crisis nowadays in Malaysia.

The shocking was still after NASA revealed Malaysia has seen a 115% increase in deforestation during the first three months of 2013, according to a forest tracking tool developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) researchers which took us the highest among five countries where deforestation was detected, followed by Nepal (114%), Mexico (92%), Argentina (72%), and Madagascar (51%).

The 5th Assessment Report of IPCC revealed on Sept 27 state human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.

According to WWF, tropical forests hold more than 210 gigatons of carbon and deforestation itself representing around 15% of greenhouse gas emissions.

The remaining healthy forests are functioning to absorb greenhouse gasses and carbon emissions that are caused by human daily activities and contribute to global climate change. How long these forests will last?

We do realize without the tree, more carbon and greenhouse gasses enter the atmosphere.

To make matters worse, trees actually become carbon sources when they are cut, burned, or otherwise removed. They believe deforestation in Malaysia is majorly caused by the vast activities of the palm-oil plantation, uncontrolled logging and land development for residential and power plant.

This observation still did not mention about illegal logging which already contribute at least half of deforestation rate in Malaysia especially at Sabah and Sarawak.

Environment vs. Profits


We can say capitalization is at its best after all since the profit easily takes down all any major policy and law enforcement towards forest preservation. The market demands on crude palm oil (CPO) from all over the world push the local producers vying to produce more to meet the demands.

The large scale cash crops of palm-oil increase year by year according to Malaysia Palm Oil Board (MPOB) and causing thousands of acres of forests being cut down.

Yes, the profit and urbanization do say it all.

Yet discussed here is, how the looseness of law enforcement and integrity policy make it worse. This issue will get political when environmentalists start to question the government about the ineffectiveness of current policies on deforestation and lack of prudent actions taken to solve the issues at any level of administration.

This is big challenges to people who keen to see this country always take progressive steps to respond to climate change.

I had participated in the policy track during the Global Power Shift (Phase 1) at Istanbul, Turkey. It is an opportunity for me to address the deforestation as a major climate crisis facing by all Malaysians.

I put a dire hope for empowering the local movement to calling a bold climate movement at the local level and restlessly organize the resources to build up the understanding towards climate change in societies.

How do we, the peoples should respond to climate?

I choose to speak about the alternative efforts, as the grassroots environmental movements.

I start to think about the urban farming to replace the burned-down forest areas and functioning as mini urban forests to reduce the urban heat islands effect, absorb greenhouse gasses and city carbon emissions, provide greener surroundings and helping the flood crisis by grounding the water in trees roots.

I do involve in a lot of tree planting events and always thought we had to design a better campaign series to get more public involved and give deep impact to the environment.

Introducing the Mini Urban Forest


Urban farming refers to the allocation of a small portion of the private area in each residential building, terrace houses, playgrounds, office buildings and car parks to plant trees and forming mini forest areas.

It is also included the vertical farming on all concrete buildings, especially the cement pavement of spiral roads. The vertical farming on these cement pavements will give greener looks instead of plain naked concrete structures.

Literally, this idea seems very idealistic.

Yes. And we need some creative approaches to realize it.

I tend to apply a fun theory, a great initiative by Volkswagen in order to change people’s behaviors towards a cause.

Undoubtedly using a fun approach campaign is much easier to get people's involve in. In the past project by Volkswagen, we can see how peoples choose to use the staircases instead of escalators after they introduce a Piano Staircase, and how people’s behaviors on recycling change after they introduce Bottle Bank Arcade Machine.

This slightly gives brief pictures on how to design a new tree planting campaign by applying fun theory on it.

If the Piano Staircase inventor just simply asks, “Can we get more people to choose the stairs by making it fun to do?”  yes, we also absolutely can introduce that question on our cause too, simply by asking “Can we get more people to plant trees by making it fun to do?”.

We need to create some better conditions within which communities like house’s owners, offices, kids, and schools will motivate themselves to involve in a tree planting campaign and react to the climate crisis.

It will be awesome when environmentalists no longer fighting climate change alone, but have people’s willingness alongside. This is an alternative approach to recover the effect of deforestation in the urban area.

The peoples need to be enlightened about the crisis we are facing right now. The debate is over, it is a time for action.

In a nutshell, within our small effort towards a greener and better environment, the truth here is the work is never finished.

Deforestation is just a partial of climate crisis happened in Malaysia. It is a lot more to address it up, such a fossil fuel consumption, harsh urbanization, river pollution, inefficient factories waste disposal and more.

At the end of the day, it is a dire need to address the peoples about the needs of practicing lower-carbon lifestyle if they really do want to see our Earth still survive after 2050.

Malaysia Forest Figures


Forest Cover

Total forest area: 20,890,000 ha
% of land area: 63.6%

Primary forest cover: 3,820,000 ha
% of land area: 11.6%
% total forest area: 18.3%

Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005

Annual change in forest cover: -140,200 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -0.7%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: 85.1%
Total forest loss since 1990: -1,486,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:-6.6%

Primary or "Old-growth" forests
Annual loss of primary forests: n/a
Annual deforestation rate: n/a
Change in deforestation rate since '90s: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990: 0.0%

Forest Classification

Public: 93.4%
Private: 6.6%
Other: 0%
Use
Production: 56.6%
Protection: 18.2%
Conservation: 5.4%
Social services: n/a
Multiple purpose: 19.8%
None or unknown: n/a

Forest Area Breakdown

Total area: 20,890,000 ha
Primary: 3,820,000 ha
Modified natural: n/a
Semi-natural: 15,497,000 ha
Production plantation: 1,573,000 ha
Production plantation: n/a

Plantations

Plantations, 2005: 1,573,000 ha
% of total forest cover: 7.5%
Annual change rate (00-05): -17,200,000 ha

Carbon storage

Above-ground biomass: 5,661 M t
Below-ground biomass: 1,359 M t

Area annually affected by

Fire: 1,000 ha
Insects: n/a
Diseases: n/a

Number of tree species in IUCN red list

Number of native tree species: 2,650
Critically endangered: 50
Endangered: 99
Vulnerable: 403

Wood removal 2005

Industrial roundwood: 20,600,000 m3 o.b.
Wood fuel: 3,414,000 m3 o.b.

Value of forest products, 2005

Industrial roundwood: $2,081,000,000
Wood fuel: $69,000,000
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): n/a
Total Value: $2,150,000,000

Source: MongaBay.com