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Malaysian earns spot on Global Student Prize 2021

PETALING JAYA: A 19-year-old’s efforts to leave a positive impact on youth entrepreneurship and financial literacy – while remaining on top of his studies – has won him a spot as one of the 50 finalists for the Global Student Prize 2021.

Leong Yiq Zhenn (pic) said he was motivated to help other young people because of his own “traumatic experience” with bad financial planning and irrational business decisions that affected the lives and livelihoods of others.

“I hope no other youth members would experience the feeling of keeping their head just above water,” he said.

The Petaling Jaya boy beat over 3,500 nominations and applications from 94 countries to make it into the top 50 and was nominated by Junior Achievement (JA) Worldwide, an international youth-serving non-governmental organisation he joined in 2018.After completing his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) exams and wearing many hats at JA Malaysia, he then focused on bringing digital innovation to their programmes.

He developed a multi-vendor e-commerce platform, JAM Mall, to provide thousands of Malaysian high-school entrepreneurs a learning environment for digital marketing, online sales and data analytics.

The platform, he added, processed orders worth more than RM48,000 in two months.

He also designed and conducted workshops with a focus on e-commerce, data analysis, branding, and digital growth, impacting more than 41,000 students.

Besides being involved in JA Worldwide, Yiq Zhenn has also won top community service awards in the Leo Club programme since joining it in Form One at SMK Bandar Utama Damansara 3.

The awards included Leo Club Excellence Award and Leo of the Year 2018. While there, he worked to build up the club with monthly small-scale projects to expanding its community service. “Despite setbacks and lack of support, I tried to change the status quo of ‘how things used to work’ by expanding our community service scope and making existing initiatives bigger and better,” he said.

If he wins the US$100,000 (RM415,450) award, Yiq Zhenn said he would donate a portion to JA Malaysia’s company programme for rural schools, another to JA Worldwide/Asia Pacific and use the rest to fund his higher education degree, majoring in economics, which he is currently pursuing at University of Calgary, Canada.

The teenager hopes his nomination will inspire others to take part in similar initiatives to help Malaysia’s youth “which could then create an impact across society”.

The Global Student Prize is a cash award presented to an exceptional student making a real impact on learning, the lives of their peers and on society beyond.

Run by the London-based Varkey Foundation, it is open to all students who are at least 16 years old and enrolled in an academic institution or training and skills programme.

The top 10 finalists will be announced in October.

The Global Student Prize, and its sister prize, Global Teacher, also organised by the foundation, offer inspirational stories from both sides of the education divide.


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