Future of Work
Hong Leong Foundation: Empowering Digital Inclusion in Malaysia


Malaysia's employment landscape is at a crucial juncture, grappling with significant unemployment issues and a digital skills deficit, notably among the economically vulnerable B40 youth. The COVID-19 pandemic has further amplified these challenges, spotlighting the critical need for enhanced digital literacy. According to the World Bank, the global economy necessitates the creation of 600 million new jobs over the next decade.  In 2021, despite a peak unemployment rate of 5.3% the previous year, the number increased and the unemployment rate slightly improved to 4.1%. January 2023 saw the unemployment rate stabilize at 3.6%, and the labor force participation held steady at 69.8%, indicating some recovery, however, requires a need for ongoing strategic development to create a resilient, future-ready workforce.


The approach for empowering 72 of Malaysia's B40 communities through the collaboration between Mereka and the Hong Leong Foundation centers on a comprehensive digital literacy and entrepreneurship initiative. This partnership is characterized by its dynamic, three-phase program that blends e-learning modules, real-world virtual project placements, and in-depth skill assessments. By focusing on critical digital and entrepreneurial skills, the program ensures participants are well-prepared to engage in the digital economy. This methodical strategy underlines the commitment to use innovation and technology for meaningful workforce development.

Program Highlights include:

  • Three-Phase Mastery: Begins with in-depth e-learning, progresses to hands-on virtual projects, and wraps up with continuous mentorship for practical application.
  • Strategic Curriculum: Covers essential skills like personal branding, financial literacy, and digital navigation, tailored to meet both immediate and future professional needs.
  • Extended Support: Offers personalized feedback, practical assignments, and SME collaborations, going beyond traditional learning to ensure real-world success.

Goals & Results

Strategic Goals Achieved

Youth Empowerment:

  • Aimed to enhance the digital skills and employability of 72 B40 youths, preparing them for the digital economy.

Gig Employment Opportunities:

  • Successfully integrated 56 participants into new or improved employment roles, significantly reducing unemployment among the group.

SME Collaboration:

  • Partnered with 34 SMEs to facilitate practical experience and mutual digital growth.

Sustainable Economic Growth:

  • Contributed to economic well-being by boosting participants' average income by 195%, from RM74,000 to RM144,000.

Success Metrics: Insights from the Programme

  • Employment Status Improvement: Achieved a 35% reduction in unemployment among program graduates.
  • Income Increase: Participants saw an average income increase of 195%, demonstrating the program's effectiveness in enhancing economic prospects.

Virtual (remote) and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Hear from Our Participants!

I really enjoyed this program and gained a lot of experience. The part I found most helpful was learning on my own through videos, assignments, and tutorials. It let me learn at my own speed and really understand the topics. Also, using a tool called Airtable to pick up new skills was great. It made organizing my learning easier and showed me new ways to handle information. This program helped me grow and learn a lot in a fun way.

Nur Daniela ariesha binti ajab khan

This program is truly wonderful for young people to learn about the basics of digital technology, especially since many of us lack knowledge in this area. I firmly believe this program is a fantastic opportunity for the youth. Given the pandemic and the restrictions we faced, it's a great chance to pick up something new. Moreover, these skills are not just limited to one area but can be applied broadly. For me personally, the self-learning aspect, through videos, assignments, and tutorials, was incredibly beneficial for my progress. It allowed me to learn at my own pace and truly absorb the material. Highly recommend it to anyone looking to expand their digital skills!

Anis Kamalia Binti Kamarulzaman

Joining this program was motivated by my desire to enhance my skills, deepen my understanding of digital capabilities, and receive mentorship and guidance from experts in the field. The best part for me has been the Webinar Sessions. They gave me real-time tips and let me talk to experts. I've also used something called the Canvas Learning Platform a lot. It's helped me get better and more comfortable with this tool. This whole experience has been really valuable for growing my skills and learning things that mix ideas with real-world use. It's been amazing for my growth and learning!

Nur Nabilah Fitri Binti Norazad

Hear from Our Participants!

I have enjoyed what I have learned during my Project Placement. As the mentor herself is a freelancer too, her experience sharing was very beneficial to me. I do feel ready to put all the knowledge I accumulated into practice, and at the same time, I do feel like there is more that I can still learn.

Melanie Liew

Before the program, I was switching between different industries and doing odd freelancing jobs. None of these opportunities allowed me to connect my passion with my work. I had a valuable Placement experience where my dedicated supervisor at the startup helped me push my creative limits in doing what I'm passionate about. Thanks to FOW and my supervisor, I now have more confidence in pursuing the life I love.

Chew Han Hoong

Previously I was unemployed when I joined the Future of Work programme by Mereka. Through Project Placement and Office Hours sessions, I gained the confidence to try freelancing or find a part-time job. I finally landed a full-time job as a Graphic Designer in September 2023. As for my future plan, I want to finish my UX design course in Coursera sponsored through Mereka’s partnership with Google Gemilang.

Farah Rafiqa

The team did very well in communication, arrangement and allocate the suitable talents to match our needs. They are also very thoughtful and constantly improving the process and keeping everyone in the loop. Overall, we appreciate what Mereka is doing. They have been a great help!

Vivy Khoo

Definitely a great way to explore talents as working with freelancers is always a challenge, especially giving them the freedom and trust to submit deliverables without enforced working hours.

Nicholas Chong

Love the idea of the placement especially when it allows both parties to have knowledge transfer and a conducive environment to be free for the talents especially to express their creativities.

Mohalila Jubli


No items found.

Read our other projects

Interested in working with us?

Get in touch today, and let's make magic happen together!
Get in touch