Curtin Malaysia empowering indigenous communities through Entrepreneurship and Digital Literacy Workshop

Miri, Sarawak – 24 May 2024 – Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin) recently hosted a workshop titled ‘Empowering Indigenous Communities through Entrepreneurship and Digital Literacy’ at the Dayak Association Miri (DAM) building.

The workshop for the association’s members was funded through the university’s Office of Teaching and Learning’s Community Engagement Fund as part of its ongoing community engagement initiatives.

The workshop was facilitated by a multidisciplinary team of academic and professional staff from Curtin Malaysia in the fields of business, human resources, health and safety, culture, and language. They included senior lecturer Dr. Joseph Sia Kee Ming of the Department of Management, Marketing and Digital Business at its Faculty of Business and lecturer Dr. Ling Yew Hua of the faculty’s Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics.

Other academics in the team were senior lecturer Dr. Noraisikin Sabani of the Department of General Studies at the Faculty of Humanities and Health Sciences; and senior teaching fellow Dr. Anita Jimmie of the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and Language Department of the School of Pre-U and Continuing Education, while the professional staff in the team comprised learning and development officer Aina Omardia Abdul Hamid of the Human Resources Department; and safety coordinator Petrus Kalom Anak Isut of the Occupational Health and Safety Department.

The workshop’s key objectives were to empower indigenous communities by inculcating the importance of digital literacy in entrepreneurship in today’s technology-driven marketplace, and bridging the gap between traditional knowledge and modern entrepreneurship.

Two student entrepreneurs, Alyaa Maisarah Abdul Hamid and Athena Chong Wei Chee, were also present to share their experiences building their online businesses. Alyaa enlightened the participants about strategies one could apply to create impactful branding and designs for products, determine the cost and appropriate pricing of products, and create a successful niche market.

Chong followed with a discourse on creating Instagram accounts tailored for entrepreneurship, focusing specifically on boosting product sales and branding. The participants learned essential strategies and were given hands-on lessons on leveraging Instagram for marketing, branding, and driving sales, such as creating engaging content, building a solid brand identity, and using Instagram’s unique features to connect with customers and increase sales.

Many indigenous communities in Sarawak need more access to education and other resources for entrepreneurial endeavours. Recognising this challenge, Dr. Sia initiated the Entrepreneurship and Digital Literacy Workshop to address these barriers to success head-on.

He thanked the participants for attending the workshop and reiterated the importance of upskilling and mastering digital literacy, as well as empowering individuals and communities with essential know-how for economic self-sufficiency and success in the digital age.

Vice-President of DAM, Matthew Benson, a passionate advocate for education and community empowerment, shared his thoughts on the workshop’s significance. “Education is the cornerstone of empowerment, especially within indigenous communities. By providing practical skills and knowledge in entrepreneurship and digital marketing, we are not just offering tools for success, but also fostering a sense of confidence and self-reliance,” he said.

“Workshops like this can create sustainable change and uplift indigenous voices in the economic landscape. They support two of our organisation’s five pillars, education and entrepreneurship,” said Matthew.

Also, as part of the workshop, the organisers invited the Maybank staff to share information regarding business loans for micro and small entrepreneurs, including the steps needed for online applications, so that entrepreneurs can have a platform for seed funding to start or expand their businesses.

Meanwhile, Professor Tang Fu Ee, Curtin Malaysia’s Dean of Learning and Teaching, remarked, “Curtin Malaysia prides itself in its contribution to, and ties to, the local community. The majority of our staff and students are Sarawakians and Malaysians. Input from local industry and community are taken into account when developing curricula to ensure there is sufficient local context and relevance, and our research projects and collaborations are geared towards meeting local needs.”

He, too, shared that the workshop was an effective platform for imparting essential knowledge, and helping micro-entrepreneurs within the DAM membership to develop business skills to advance their businesses and local communities.

Information on Curtin Malaysia can be found on its website at, or look for Curtin Malaysia on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and TikTok.

Alyaa (standing right) sharing strategies for creating impactful branding and product design

Chong (standing front, right) guides participants in creating Instagram accounts tailored for entrepreneurship, focusing on boosting product sales and enhancing branding.

Matthew (standing) giving his speech during the workshop

Matthew (standing, fourth from right) with workshop participants and organising team