Our business activities have a direct impact on the livelihoods and quality of living of both our employees and neighbouring communities. Given the nature of our business, it is not uncommon that we sometimes operate in the most remote parts of developing countries. We have benefited much from these countries and we wish to do our bit for these countries in return.
We recognise our ability and our responsibility to better the quality of living conditions of our neighbours, especially the rural poor. Our approach is to ensure we bring meaningful and lasting benefits to the communities in areas where we operate, while we maintain the continual viability of our business. We reckon one of the best means to achieving this is to build open, honest and mutually beneficial relationships that promote harmony with them.
To this end, we are committed to progressive socio-economic policies and programmes in the local communities and economies we operate in, focussing on addressing local needs and encouraging community self-reliance through education and service support such as healthcare and infrastructure provision.
Education is one of the ways to break away from the chains of poverty, for there are few jobs beyond subsistence for the underprivileged and the illiterate. Wilmar provides educational assistance and support to empower the neighbouring, local communities so as to enable them to build meaningful lives in the long run. We are also supportive of the long-term development and funding of educational infrastructure.
One of our most successful projects involves working with the Humana Child Aid Society of Sabah (Humana). Otherwise known as Borneo Child Aid Society, Humana is an independent, non-profit organisation dedicated to providing basic education to children on the island of Borneo.
The collaboration aims to provide for the children of immigrant workers in our operations in Malaysian Borneo. These children are generally excluded from the mainstream education in Malaysia due to poverty or legal status. The remoteness of the plantation regions also hinders access to schools.
The educational syllabus is designed based on the Malaysian curriculum, integrated with Indonesia-centric subjects. This will help ease the Indonesian children’s transition to the mainstream societies, if they choose to stay in Malaysia eventually, or return to Indonesia. Apart from providing them with free education, we also subsidise uniforms, books and food every year.
In other countries wherein our company operates, Wilmar also builds and refurbish schools, awards scholarships and provides education materials and honoraria to teachers.
Service Support – infrastructure & healthcare provision
Modern infrastructural services play an important role in economic growth and poverty alleviation. This is particularly crucial in developing countries where the acute shortage of basic infrastructure is a major hindrance to development and growth. Private infrastructural support can play a pivotal role in these developing economies, especially when the operations extend into remote areas where the more vulnerable communities are often distant from governmental support.
As such, we take it upon ourselves to finance and provide such services for our business and our employees, as well as promote rural development. Our support aims to improve the rural communities’ access to services and markets, as well as create employment. Some of our initiatives include the construction, maintenance and renovation of roads, bridges, places of worship and community facilities such as community and sports halls; as well as provision of clean water supply units to the villagers.
Furthermore, Wilmar also builds on-site clinics and sponsors mobile clinics to provide healthcare services to local communities in remote locations. Initially set up to serve its own employees, Wilmar’s medical services are extended to our rural neighbours who in the past lacked regular access to basic healthcare. The suite of free medical treatments provided includes free immunisation, circumcision surgeries and cataract surgeries, amongst others.