Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Unleash the potential within

"Potential exists everywhere--sometimes in very unexpected places--and most important, within ourselves." Jessica B, founder of Kiva, a successful Microfinance Co.

Many believe that we are the one who helped the poor illiterate weavers in Bhutan to earn money they never could have without our involvement. That's true but not the whole truth. Truth is we helped unleash the potentials stored within them. They could always make beautiful things with their hands, they were just not connected to the world that appreciates such beauty and colour of the handmade scarfs

But the biggest surprise for all contributor s and volunteers of Ana by Karma is that through this social enterprise, it is we who discovered our potentials and our vast capacity. It is us who found the treasure within us. I certainly did. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015



What was meant to be a donation of US$200 for one poor illiterate woman morphed into a social enterprise in Bhutan. Ana by Karma Social Enterprise Bhtutan has 70+ weavers proudly earning through sale of their handmade scarfs.

Back then, I made an assumption – the poor benefits from our money, our donation. No. Not true. Karma- the Bhutanese weaver who never went to school, she wants an opportunity, a chance to showcase her talent, the dignity of earning her own keeps. Doesn’t that sound like what you and I want too?

The last thing Karma wanted was my offer of US$200 to buy her a sewing machine.

Looking back, I am glad she vehemently and repeatedly refused my “gift”, my donation. By doing so, Karma taught me a great lesson that day. It was so easy of me to drop a donation in the box and walk away. Not all the poor want our money, definitely not our sympathy. What they truly benefit from are our gift of ideas, time and our vast network.

In Karma’s spirit of dignity, one thing our social enterprise has consistently and vehemently uphold is -- > ZERO $$ donation. ZERO. Ana by Karma is a business. Not a charity.

Any money we receive, we earn it. Just like any commercial business. The only difference is, we are a business with a heart. At the heart of our enterprise is a group of Bhutanese women weavers who are given the opportunity to become financially independent through their own beautiful work. In fact the women weavers are encouraged to think of themselves as entrepreneurs in the fashion industry!

And if you really wish to “donate”, please donate to us your time, your expertise, your ideas as these are the tools of their empowerment.  And that is the lesson I learnt from Karma.


Charity - the act of giving money, food, or other kinds of help to people who are poor, sick, etc, people in need.

A social enterprise is a business created with a social purpose and operated in a financially sustainable way.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Three golden questions that can open doors of opportunities for your business

As an "accidental" social entrepreneur, often I feel I am thrown in at the deep end of the pool. Thankfully I found three "floats" that have generated many new leads and created good bonds with others.

The three floats are Three golden questions to be asked by any entrepreneurs when meeting someone new for business for first time:

  1. How can I help you

  2. What ideas do you have for me

  3. Who else do you know that I can talk to

Enjoy your morning. And fruitful meetings for the rest of the week.

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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Perfectly Brilliant Name

With the love of Khandor, Rinpoche Garab blessed my birthday by giving me a Bhutanese name. Quen-sal. It means Perfectly Brilliant. I think of sparkly diamonds! 

Miraculous thing is; Rinpoche didn't even know my name is Quin when he bestowed Quen-sal upon me. In fact, not many people know the name on my passport is spelt Siew Quen. 

The name Quen-sal is An aspiration from this point in life - to keep true to my cause of helping another reach his or her potentials, be it CEOs or MBA students or illiterate weavers. It takes one diamond to shine another, as it is said.

From this point forward, I shall work to live up to the name given to me. Perfectly brilliant. 

Announcement: Diamond Club membership opened for applications. Let's help one another shine with brilliance. 


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Obstacles? What to do?

Often when we face a huge obstacle in life, we either want to run in the opposite direction or sigh and ask "Why me?" 

The answer to the question "Why me?" Is because the obstacles are there to prepare us for something bigger and better in our lives, when we choose to surmount them.

It is your blessing in disguise. 

Friday, 23 January 2015

We change the world one scarf at a time

When I decided to help Karma, it was on the strength of support of good friends like Robin, Candy, Tracy, Polly etc. At same time, many also pour cold water over me - say "you have never run a social enterprise, handicraft can't sell much, your sale price too low you will not survive, your ladies are uneducated and won't learn business..." Actually the cold water was a lot, sometimes from industry experts or social entrepreneur gurus.

Still my love for Karma is strong and I endured those naysayers and plod on. In my heart I said, One Scarf. One Hope. All I have to do is sell one scarf. 

In January 2015, 300 scarfs have gone into the hands of their happy new owners. And 100 more is ordered. 400 units is a super small number for many businesses. Minuscule. But for us, especially me who thought i can only sell 10 scarfs for Karma, 400 a month blows my mind. (want to add, one friend Helen Pu helped market 200 of the 400!!) 

This morning, I woke up thinking. What about February? Can I sell 10 for Karma? Fear crept into my heart, the naysayers haunting words came back again. And I say to myself, One scarf at a time. One scarf at a time". 

Pic of one of the 47 weavers attending WOW Training in Thimphu Bhutan on 23 Jan 2015, the workshop fully sponsored by Ana by Karma. WOW stands for Women Overarchievers Weavers Training, the first of its kind workshop. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Lucky Guess Competition - Win a Free Gift for CNY


上面的袋子里共有多少个财神? 赶快参与竞猜。每人仅有一次竞猜的机会,因此请大家在提交答案前认真思考。

How many God of Fortune in this bag? Make a lucky guess. Everyone gets one chance to guess, so think carefully before you send in your answer.

The bag is 21cm X 30cm. 袋子尺寸 21cm X 30cm

第一位猜出正确答案的将赢得Ana by Karma幸福围巾一条,中国或香港地区, 马来西亚免运费The first one to get the number right wins one FREE Happy Scarf from Ana by Karma, and it is free delivery in Hong Kong, China & of course to my Malaysian folks la (less you dont let me come through immigration during CNY). 

  Competition ends on 20 January 2015 midnight. 
Forward to your friends and see who is the luckiest of them all.
Happy guessing. 竞猜将于2015120日凌晨截止。欢迎转发链接,看谁是你周围最幸运的人。快乐竞猜。

Ana by Karma Online Shop 微店二维码


Ana by Karma 是谁?

Ana by Karma Social Enterprise connects illiterate, underprivileged women weavers in Bhutan to a world of opportunities, by empowering them to sell their handmade scarfs internationally. All scarfs are hand made in Bhutan. 
Ana by Karma社会企业以帮助一群未受过教育的、贫困的不丹女性手工编织者为宗旨,授权将她们的手工围巾销往国际市场。所有围巾均为不丹手工编织。


In 2014, almost two thirds of the proceeds is channeled back to Bhutan to cover their wages, raw material, logistics cost and related. A further 20%of the proceeds is allocated to fund their training and development workshop - called WOW (Women Overachievers Workshop), the first of which is conducted in Jan 2015 for weavers. 


WOW Training Program equips our illiterate weavers with enhanced weaving skills, learn to be financial independent, quality control and standard operating procedures. The Institute of Management Studies in Bhutan is commissioned to deliver WOW. In the first workshop, 60 weavers are trained, including weavers who come from far flung villages - some took 6 days to/fro travel to attend the workshop. This is the first time the weavers attend class (or school), a "wow" experience for them, if not life changing. 

WOW培训课程目标:帮助我们未受过教育的编织者们提高她们的编织技能,学会财务独立,质量控制以及标准运营流程。不丹管理学院(网址是实施此课程的合作机构。第一期课程将有60名不丹编织者参与,其中有的来自很偏远的村庄 —— 她们为了参与培训,来回路上需要花费6天的时间。对于这些编织者们来说,这是她们第一次走进课堂,即使不能改变她们的命运,也是一次非常“WOW”的经历。


The weavers are upgraded from no /little income to low income since they became part of Ana by Karma. As every scarf you purchase gives them one day of work. In 2014, the proceeds from June to Dec that went back to Bhutan is equivalent to almost 10 of years of what a low income family in Bhutan would earn. And now for the first time in their lives, they attend school, an impossible dream for many of them. 

加入Ana by Karma后,编织者们从无收入者升级为低收入者。你每购买一条围巾,将带给她们一天的工作。20146-12月返回不丹的收益相当于一个低收入不丹家庭约10年的收入。而如今,她们还将获得人生历程中的第一次课堂学习机会,这对她们中的许多人来说都是不可能实现的梦想。

Let's change the world, one scarf at a time.


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Fortune be with you always

The "God" of Fortune 财神 must be the most loved god of all in my family when I was young. Sleepy as we kids were, grandma would insist we stay awake til midnight on Chinese New Year eve to welcome him. And welcome him we did, at stroke of midnight, firecrackers boomed and crackled. A great fanfare no other gods enjoyed. grandma would then reward us with sweets. 

Many many many years later I came across the 财神 again, although in a very different way. 

Our company just expanded and opened a nice new little office in one of the tier two cities of China. Quite quickly, two "tough looking" chaps dropped by, arms decorated with the most colourful tattoos,  holding a rather big porcelain 财神 as a "office warming gift" (who said we invited them?) I was tempted to set the firecrackers on them! But instead, returned the gesture with a big smile and a nice box of chocolates which I happened to have brought from Hong Kong. This suitably impressed the tough boys to leave us without extorting us an arm and a leg, to the amused surprise of our local staff. Maybe it was my bad putonghua that frightened them off. 

From then on, it renewed my interest in the 财神 Each Chinese New Year, I will scour for some nice looking God of Fortune to give as well meaning presents on such auspicious celebrations. 

This year, the first 100 lucky customers of Ana by Karma will receive a mini 财神 with the purchase of a CNY series of red scarf. 

No need to stay up to midnight to wait for him anymore  And if you are opening an office in a tier two city in China, put my 财神 at your front door to show that I am "protecting" you already. Hahaha

Monday, 29 December 2014

Your Magic Book


2013-10-28  QuinSQ  Art of Flying

Quite a few people have asked me "What is this magic book you talk about? Does it teach you magic skills?" 


It doesn't teach us how to make coins disappear and rabbits appear out of hats, but it does magically transform our lives. 


So, what is a Magic Book and how did I create this idea?

(Above picture: My magic book)

I was in London in August this year and met up with a long time friend,Colette. Always a happy, cheerful and optimistic gal, this time we met, she was facing some tall challenges in life. So I said "Let s have a Magic Session to help propel you forward into your dreams!"  


"Oh yes. Let's", was her enthusiastic reply. 


The next morning we met for breakfast in a cozy little cafe in Hammersmith, and the first thing I did was to twirl my fingers in the cool English air, explaining to Colette that I was sprinkling magic dust. 


"Aha, so - that s what you are doing, Tinkerbell," my amused friend remarked. 


And then, I pointed to the black notebook, and said with a whisper " your magic book." I took a ball point pen from my bag and slowly handed it to Colette, whose eyes are larger than saucers by now, and added,"this is your magic pen. You will write with this magic pen into your magic book all the dreams and wishes you want to come true, and it will appear like magic." 

Above Picture: Pretty Colette happily yet seriously filling the book with her dreams.


Since that wonderful magical morning, quite many of Colette's wildest dreams and long held wishes have come true. Some appeared in a few hours after she wrote them (they came true in front of my eyes), others in a matter of days and some in a week or two. 


This October when I am in London, again, Colette proudly showed me her new workplace. It's the dream job she wrote in the first page of her magic book, described with much details - even down to the name of the company. Housed in an old church, refurbished in milk white and complete with doors and windows that almost reach the sky, I joked with my dear friend that this must be what it feels like to work in heaven! Indeed, my friend replied with a twinkle in her eye. 

Colette's new office, if this isnt like working in heaven, what is?


And what's more inspiring is that after she started work, Colette decided to add a few more minor details into her magic book and that too took less than a week to materialise. Oh yes, less than a week! A new smartphone. A new 21 inch touch screen. A new assistant. She names it, she gets it. How much more magical can it be?

Below picture: My bear checks out the cool piece of technology.


Coming back to the magic book.


Some simple steps:

1. Write down in the front page, "This Magic Book belongs to..........." And use this book solely for creating magic in your life. Don't use it to keep your expenses or other scribbles. 


2. When you are writing down (or drawing) your dreams and wishes, add vivid and colourful details. Engage your 5 senses. Even more importantly, engage your heart. Feel what it is like to be living in your dream.


3. After you finished writing, pause for a moment and go over what you have written. Use a highlighter to pick out words that are of significance to you. Add a few more. 


Even better if you can add some action steps. For example, Colette's action step was to tell the headhunter specifically which company she is interested to work for. Sounds simple but how many of us do this? I didn't!


4. If your logic gets in the way of your Magic Session, suspend it for a moment. Tell your logical mind to take a coffee break whilst you have a few carefree moments to dream courageously. 


5. And always have fun. Enjoy the Magic Session. 


Wish it. Dream it. Do it. Get it.  


Let the Magic begin. happy 2015


Love, Quin