A project Ethis “Crowd” fully crowdfunded

“In that Pahang community,
I felt a certain kind of peace,
a quiet, where the people
were happy, content and
grateful; a beautiful calm,
one would wish to be
in every moment.”

Maryam Enriquez have been working with Ethis Ventures in various capacities for almost a year now. She left the San Francisco Bay Area for Malaysia to pursue Islamic Finance Studies almost 3 years ago around Ramadan time.

In many ways, she have reached several mini “full circles” in my life recently which bring me to easily say, “Oh so that seems to make sense now!”. She see something that she did not seem to notice before.

Last Tuesday, May 24, 2017, the Ethis team visited Pahang and headed towards the town of Jerantut; popular for its lush forest reserves. It is also the area where we crowdfunded for a developer to build 10 homes for flood victims.

She have followed the development of this project from the very beginning, as it was the first attempt by Ethis to crowdfund for a Malaysian entrepreneur. Pahang was one of the freshly funded initiatives when she started a year ago.

She did not know what to expect as her exposure was limited as to how they structure listings, effectively crowdfund, payout and all else in between.

It was quite a drive, as they first had to get through the KL traffic, and then they headed East, deeper into the villages. The weather was short of perfect – the journey made her really appreciate the amazing roadways in Malaysia. They arrived at the site and the houses were bigger than she imagined.

They knocked on their first door and met Sakinah with her son and daughter. Sakinah narrated how she remembers the flood and how grateful she is to be in this new home. Sakinah moved into the home December of 2016 together with the other recipients of the 10 self-standing homes.

The second home Maryam went to, they called the lady Makcik, or Auntie in Malay. She welcomed us to the living room where they sat on the carpet and listened to her story. With full gusto, she told her story and a run down of the other neighbors who were off-site. At this point, and up until now (2 days after the trip), something in Maryam started to change. She cannot put my finger it on, and as she shared with the rest of the team in the morning huddle the day after, she can’t really explain apart from something inside of her had shifted.

Makcik spoke in Malay, which Maryam did not understand (the digital team still in the process of preparing a video which they hope to share with the investors). But Makcik spoke to Maryam beyond the language of words, almost to my heart and the message is still evolving.

As they were about to leave, Makcik called us towards the end the home. One of they Malaysian team members said, Makcik want them to meet her husband. Maryam walked back and as the door opened she saw Mashareef. He was bed ridden, but you could see and feel he was properly cared for by Makcik who is slightly younger than him. Maryam took his hand to my forehead and closed her eyes as a gesture of respect similar to their Filipino culture, asking for blessings and prayers.

At this point, Maryam felt tears well up in her eyes, in awe of how many lives they have touched. Humbled and yet feeling that they could do better. Maryam counted at least 20 children living in the 10 houses, not to mention the extended families who visit such as the grandchildren to Makcik’s 8 sons, the single father, the widow, the young couple, the large family, etc.

One home after the other the unexplainable feeling began to build up, and on they way back Maryam felt like she wanted to cry out loud. She looked at the clear blue skies as they drove back staring at the beautiful mountain range of Pahang, the greenery and the road, just allowing the emotions to sit in.

It was in the morning after as she brought my children to school when she found an “alas” moment and she caught herself saying, “Guys, you know yesterday I went to the homes we built for the poor.” Then immediately she knew something in the sentence was wrong. So she said, “OH no, not the poor, but the flood victims from the flood in Pahang, remember in December of 2015 when we were in the Philippines and we saw it in the papers…”

It was then that she sort of came full circle with the feeling. In that Pahang community, she felt a certain kind of peace, a quiet, where the people were happy, content and grateful; a beautiful calm, one would wish to be in every moment.

Thanks to their crowd, who have touched the lives of these flood victims in Pahang.

May this Ramadan shower you with blessings unbound and may we find peace and contentment in this lifetime as we all struggle to please the Creator and Sustainer of us All.

Ramadan Kareem.


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