SEATTLE, Washington — In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, Malaysia announced a partial lockdown, also known as the Movement Control Order, in March. The Malaysian economy is on the way to recovery, with most sectors reopening in June with relaxed governmental restrictions. However, Malaysia’s unemployment rate rose to 3.9% in March, leaving millions of Malaysians unemployed due to the pandemic. As a result, many Malaysians are currently facing difficulty making ends meet due to the unprecedented shortfall of funds. To provide short-term relief for those severely impacted by the pandemic, various governmental and non-governmental organizations have joined forces to set up SamaBantu, an online platform to facilitate crowdfunding in Malaysia for unemployed workers.
SamaBantu: a Crowdfunding Platform for COVID-19-related Unemployment
SamaBantu, which means “helping together” in Malay, initiates online crowdfunding in Malaysia for unemployed workers affected by COVID-19. The crowdfunding platform was instated by members of the Rotary Club of Kuala Lumpur DiRaja (RCKL), the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Rotary District 3300, Kuala Lumpur Rotary Charity Foundation and the Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA). SamBantu’s goal is to provide financial aid to the 2.1 million Malaysians laid off during the pandemic.
In particular, SamaBantu has three aims: to raise funds from individuals, organizations and corporate parties; to distribute financial aid to unemployed workers and to give out $23 per week to eligible unemployed workers. The platform also runs on four fundamental principles: trustworthiness, transparency, simplicity and tax efficiency.
How it Works
According to SamaBantu, the organization’s checks and upholding balances makes the platform “automated, transparent, traceable and auditable at any time.” Moreover, all the donations on the forum are transparent, and the entirety of the donations received will go to applicants without SamaBantu charging a fee. In other words, a nonprofit strategy drives the platform, benefiting Malaysian workers displaced by COVID-19.
The crowdfunding platform screens funding applicants and verifies them through online crowd efforts. SamBantu grants applicants with financial assistance based on their self-assessed financial need, which their counterparts in society cross-check and verify. Additionally, SamaBantu’s terms state that applicants must be able to provide public verification since an applicant’s name and location will be published on the SamaBantu portal for crowd verification.
Since its inception, SamBantu has received 182 applicants and has 138 people on the waiting list. The founding organizations hope that this initiative will provide unemployed Malaysians with the necessary funds to receive daily food essentials during COVID-19’s economic downturn.
Even amid this unprecedented time, organizations such as the Rotary Club of Kuala Lumpur, with government bodies’ support, initiated a crowdfunding platform for Malaysian unemployed workers. This initiative not only supports unemployed workers with the necessary funding, but it also provides Malaysians with the ability to fight against COVID-19’s socio-economic consequences. Through initiatives like that of Malaysia’s crowding platform, countries worldwide can create innovative ways to support vulnerable groups amid the pandemic.