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Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Five Time Founder & Award Winning TEDx speaker.

Live a life of purpose - and get paid to do so.

Weh Yeoh has worked internationally and in Australia, his home country, in the social impact space for nearly two decades.

In 2013, Weh founded OIC Cambodia, an initiative to establish speech therapy as a profession in Cambodia and transitioned leadership to a local Cambodian team in 2017. Subsequently, Weh co-founded Umbo, a social enterprise facilitating rural Australians' access to allied health services.

Weh has volunteered with people with disabilities in Vietnam, interned in India, studied Mandarin in Beijing, and milked yaks in Mongolia.

In 2023 he published his first book, Redundant Charities: Escaping the Cycle of Dependence, it discusses the structural issues that face charities, and promotes a new model of charity - one that makes itself redundant.

He has a BA in Physiotherapy from the University of Sydney and an MA in Development Studies from the University of NSW.

Talking Points

Living a Life of Purpose (and Getting Paid to Do So)

After starting out as a physiotherapist, Weh volunteered and travelled in the developing world for two years. It was then that his eyes were opened to the reality of how many people live their lives. While starting a charity in Cambodia, with the distinct goal of shrinking, Weh was able to *just* make ends meet. He then returned to Australia and started a social enterprise, Umbo.

Unlike the charity, whose goal was to shrink, this social enterprise was built to scale. The more growth it experienced, the more people would be able to receive services and the larger the amount of profit dedicated to giving people free access to services. Umbo continues to grow, but from one person in 2018 to over 80 people in 2024, Weh has found the key to living a life of purpose and getting paid to do so.

Key Takeaways:

- Learn how to find your life's key purpose by narrowing down on the intersection between doing good and what you can get paid to do
- Understand the key differences between a social enterprise and a charity
- Recognise the advantages and disadvantages of both models, and how to work around the disadvantages

Doing Good & Challenging the Status Quo

Weh has dedicated his life to not only doing good, but challenging the typical ways of doing good along the way. His groundbreaking book, Redundant Charities, published in 2023, questions why it is that some global problems are never truly solved, with charities caught up in an endless cycle of dependency, addressing symptoms but never really solving problems. This book is based on his 2019 TEDx talk which gathered over 35,000 views. Weh is one of the key voices globally challenging the status quo when it comes to charity work, and encouraging a way of helping others which is more effective.

Key Takeaways:

- Discover why good intentions are not enough, and how to develop critical thinking to around how best to do good
- Learn how to break away from the cycle of dependency that plagues many charitable efforts, by advocating for solutions that empower communities to become self-sufficient and address underlying issues, rather than merely providing temporary relief.
- Understand how to inspire individuals and organisations to pursue strategies that create lasting impact and meaningful change.

Building a Purpose Driven Business From the Ground Up

Weh is a five time founder who has had experience starting a range of social purpose initiatives, from an online blog, which then blossomed into a non profit working with university students studying international development, to a charity in Cambodia - OIC Cambodia - developing the profession of speech therapy in a country that had not one single Cambodian speech therapist. The latter is now locally led by Cambodian people, with Weh supporting from afar, along with his team at OIC Australia - a fundraising body that implements an activity called Day Without Speech, a challenge for children in schools to give up talking for part of the day. Weh also co-founded Happy Kids Clinic, a social enterprise in Cambodia servicing Cambodians who could afford to pay for speech therapy, hence providing a channel for support for OIC Cambodia. Finally, Weh has co-founded Umbo, a social enterprise that predominantly services regional Australia with online speech and occupational therapy, where wait times of 18 months are the norm. Apart from over 60% of Umbo's clients being based regionally, and 13% identifying as Indigenous, Umbo also puts 50% of it's profit into a social impact bank account, which is then used to give people free access to the service when they can't afford to pay. Weh's experience across a range of initiatives, with varying levels of impact and success, is unique.

- Learn how to balance profit and purpose: gain insights into how businesses can create positive social change while remaining financially sustainable.
- Through Weh's journey as a serial entrepreneur, understand valuable insights for budding social enterpreneurs aspiring to build purpose-driven businesses.
- By observing how Weh prioritises local leadership and involvement in his projects, learn the importance of fostering sustainable solutions that empower communities to address their own challenges.
The tenacity of this man is something not to be under-estimated! Weh’s work is driven by logical business and administrative acumen, and a whole lot of passion and personal drive. The Australian Ballet

A great supportive, inspired and strategic leader. What really surprises me is his willingness and responsibility throughout, to continue supporting me and the team here in Cambodia, ensuring our work is effective. Thanks Weh, for bringing your uniqueness, professionalism, and kindheartedness to support OIC Cambodia and strengthening health equity in Cambodia.

OIC Cambodia
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