Time is precious ~ make the most out of it

On the 5th day of Year of Rat, the first business day after the public holiday of Chinese New Year in Hong Kong, I took the opportunity to arrange 3 meetings in half a day.   The idea to make my trip to the city as much as I could — without knowing that the city would be half idle due to the recent situation affected by the coronavirus from Wuhan, China.

To make the best out of my risky venture out to Central, I had the honour to meet with amazing ladies – each in their own distinguish way bring positive impacts to build the betterment of Hong Kong:

Shalini Mahtani is founder of Community Business and Zubin Foundation.  I first met her at one of BPW Hong Kong event where she was the guest speaker and we had a few words of exchange there as I was thrilled to be asking for an opportunity to seek advice from her on how to grow a start up NGO.  Later I then ran into her again in the Awards Presentation of Ten Outstanding Young Persons Selection.   Having to meet a person twice would definitely help leaving an impression so I took the chance to follow up to ask for a meeting after CNY.

On the day, Shalini gave me 5 advices on what I should focus on in growing a new NGO:

  1. If we have not started applying to be Charitable Organisation (Sec 88) with Inland Revenue, do consider having to pay an expert to do it BEFORE the organisation is even incorporated.   It literally could save more than half the time and efforts than doing it the usual route of incorporating first then applying for Sec88.
  2. Keep the size of the board very slim to a minimum number.   The founding board members should be your greatest supporters who are there when you need them.  The primary goal for the founder of a new NGO is to spend her upmost efforts and time on the mission of the organisation rather than handling the board members.
  3. Produce at least one piece of thought leadership per year on the subject that matters to the organisation — this can be a backbone of brand building for the NGO.
  4. Don’t incur too much overhead.  Try your best to seek supports from the members / volunteers, to ride on their expertises.
  5. Have a clear articulation on the three key projects.

It is the one thing the founder of the NGO needs to articulate well in every meetings and networking opportunities.  Again time is precious – you should make it clear how each person you have met could help and support.

The meeting was brief but Shalini made it clear and concise what a founder should do in bringing the newly founded NGO forward.   No one but the founder herself knows the subject as well and one one should be as passionate as the founder herself.

My day carried on to meet another young lady, Priyanka Maheshwari, founder of As Good As, a new making consultancy supporting NGOs and Social Enterprises.    I met Priyanka at the OCS/UBS NGO Leadership Program information session earlier this month where I was one of the sharing alumni there.

At our meeting we explored way on how Priyanka’s expertise in marketing can help HKM and other NGOs – in particular on how she may help some of HKM future projects. We are blessed to meet many amazing people in helping us build up HKM along the way.

My half day venture in the city ended with a great meeting of Alicia Lui, founder of Women in Sports Empowered (WISE) and author of the recently published Sporty Girl Journals that HKM has featured a book sharing event earlier in the year. Alicia and I also happened to be working for the same office but at different times so we did not know each other back then. Our passions and visions have brought us together to this special reunion as her book was published in last November.

We shared the same journey in founding a new NGO to live our dreams and to spread them by building up our communities. There are many synergies among us and being able to work together going forward. In the path of social entrepreneurship, it can sometimes be very lonely yet having a fellow companion who’s also a community builder along side is a blessing.

Time is precious. We all need to make the most out of it.

Something about the author:

A marketer, an entrepreneur, an advocate and a mother, Lena has a strong calling to push forward workplace diversity and flexibility. She believes there should be no boundary to how works should be done. She was a finance professional who left behind her decent livings and devoted herself to the family when her first daughter was born. She has eventually landed herself in her own marketing consultancy for small enterprises and also dedicated herself in founding Hong Kong Momtrepreneurs – a non profit organization in Hong Kong supporting moms and families in their entrepreneurial journey. Lena also appreciates the impacts from social innovations and further pursues her works in promoting UNSDGs.

In her leisure time, Lena enjoys sipping a glass of wine or coffee with friends and she contributes herself as Advisor and Trainer at Junior Chamber International and as Program Chair in HK Association of Business and Professional Women.