Yasmin Rasyid is the undisputed nature champion with EcoKnights…
She is a true Malaysian icon, a social activist, as well as a bona fide champion of the environment. Founded by Yasmin Rasyid and Mariam Osman in 2005, EcoKnights began its operation as a non-profit entrepreneurial entity or collective offering community assistance to citizens in developing their own environmental initiatives. It serves the urban community through a series of academic research and social awareness programs involving professional consultation and public participation. Its primary objective is to develop a nation of ecologically-conscious Malaysians who embrace the concept of nature living, and to adopt sustainable lifestyle choices. A platform is henceforth provided for those with passion for the environment to spur them to conserve Mother Nature and protect Planet Earth.
“Inspiring Sustainable Living” is EcoKnights’ trademark tagline and guiding principle. Its mission is to support environmental projects with emphasis on promoting sustainable development amongst industry players as well as local communities via education, mass media and corporate outreach programmes. It aspires to complete its mission through programs as ‘KL Eco Film Festival’, ‘Green Awards Malaysia’, ‘Cintai Tioman’, including community workshops, charitable events and CSR initiatives. Anyone is eligible to join as an “Eco-Knight” so long as they possess the passion for the environment. Team members originate from diverse backgrounds such as business entrepreneurs, corporate representatives, real estate professionals, academic personnel, college graduates, and retirees.
Social entrepreneurship is fast becoming a buzzword and trending topic within Malaysian social circles and media networks. Unlike conventional entrepreneurs, the so-called ‘sociopreneurs’ or social entrepreneurs leverage on entrepreneurial principles to plan, develop and manage a sustainable business model to attain their social-oriented as well as people-centric goals. A vision that not only focuses on profitability, it empowers to create a positive impact and an equitable society.
An ‘eco-warrior’ of the environment
Yasmin Rasyid’s love for the environment knowns no bounds or boundaries. As a founder & president of EcoKnights since 2005, she has undertaken many nature-related educational programmes, especially for youths and women. Among the programmes held includes the International Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival 2008. Other programs organized by EcoKnights include the ‘Green Awards Malaysia’. EcoKnights had also organized numerous roadshows and showcases in its quest to educate the general public about environmental awareness such as recycling and sustainable living. She is also the principle founder of ‘Pop Tani’, a project which introduces agriculture in cities with basic farming as an entrepreneurial platform.
EcoKnights has received awards or accolades for its contributions to society, such as the ‘Civil Society Partner Organizations’ from Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the ‘Hope Awards @ KL Eco Film Festival’, as well as the ‘Forever Duke Awards’. Yasmin also received the ‘Outstanding Career Achievement & Contribution to Society’ Award, as well as the ‘NGO Leadership Awards’ from The Golden Globe Tigers 2016. She was also featured in Malaysian Women’s Weekly, duly described as being “Fun, Fearless & Fabulous.” In conjunction with International Women’s Day, she believes women need not limit themselves, but to be open-minded, and not judge or measure their success in only specific areas or aspects of their lives.
Prior to setting up EcoKnights, she had embarked on many training workshops for residents’ associations and schoolchildren. It is her hope that more children will be exposed to environmental issues, and be empowered to take action and make a change. After graduating with a degree in Marine Biology, she then pursued a Masters’ degree in bio-tech while working under the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), conducting talks and organizing workshops. There is definitely a significant change in perception in today’s society on how we view environmental issues. Also, more schools are now incorporating social science-based activities, and local authorities are engaging communities to implement greener and more sustainable projects.
A true champion of Mother Nature
Yasmin continues to devote & dedicate her time and effort to influence Malaysian youths to be more environmentally conscious. It is basically all about educating communities with regard to sustainable living, and to equip them with the proper facts and knowledge to invoke or implement real changes. In essence, inculcating nature awareness among the people should start from a young age. Although most Malaysians are rather familiar with mainstream environmental issues such as climate change and global pollution, still more needs to be done to rectify the past mistakes of our forefathers. Yasmin is widely regarded as a key or leading figure in MENGO (Malaysian Environmental NGO), a coalition of environmental NGOs, which strives to empower Malaysian citizens, and to foster creativity & innovation. As part of its portfolio, it holds a signature eco-film festival, presents dedicated awards to environmentally-responsible corporations, as well as conducts various workshops and training stints for corporate bodies and governmental agencies. The idea behind the formation of EcoKnights is rooted in empowering young minds and urban communities. In conjunction with World Environment Day, celebrated annually in June, MENGO and EcoKnights teamed up with developer Sunway Property to organize the ‘Race for A Better Planet 2016’.
Changing the Malaysian mentality
One of the greatest challenges faced with empowering the community is changing the mindset, mentality or perception about environmental activism. For instance, promoting simple habits and performing household tasks involving the iconic 3R concept of ‘Reduce, Reuse & Recycle’ go a long way towards saving & preserving the environment, as well as ensuring a greener nation. A typical example is none other than waste recycling, whereby elderly folks are more nonchalant compared to the youths who are more eager and enthusiastic about the whole ‘Green Earth’ scenario. Sometimes you do see real change when you duly lead by example. It is somewhat difficult to alter the ingrained habits of people overnight. Inculcating a new concept often takes time to produce the desired results. We need to see the bigger picture in the greater scheme of things. Despite the many environmental issues, the green business is still in its infancy and has much untapped potential.
The future of environmental activism
EcoKnights has always been supportive of government initiatives, and continues to work closely with relevant governmental agencies to bring about positive environmental change in the foreseeable future. The younger generation, in particular the millennials must learn to rise to the occasion and accept all the challenges that come their way. It is truly an uphill battle and winding pathway towards success. Local residents must also be empowered to expand their noble efforts and nature activities in ushering in the new millennium with the continual support of EcoKnights. Tackling environmental issues is a group effort as well as team work. Whatever hurdles that may lie ahead, we can be rest assured that Yasmin Rasyid and EcoKnights will continue to fight on for a greener Malaysia!