We speak with Nelson and Terence Loh, co-founders of the DORR Group, Novena Global Lifecare and most recently, The Loh Foundation, about the importance of social leadership
Being giving makes the world a better place, but whether you’re genuinely wanting to help, or simply buying moral credit, what matters is you are helping. Period.
That’s what we think, at the least, and we’re happy to see what cousins Nelson and Terence Loh have been up to. Co-founders of the DORR Group (a private equity firm) and Novena Global Lifecare (a medical centre and aesthetic group), they are both successful businessmen with strong beliefs in championing strong corporate social responsibility. By the end of 2019, they would have set up The Loh Foundation, an organisation that seeks to inspire the youth through sports and tertiary education. This 14 December, they will also be hosting a fund-raising Education Benefit Gala Dinner, where Barak Obama will be present to speak.
Here, we speak with them to find out more about the importance of social leadership and whether it is possible to separate the love of moneymaking and doing good.
What drove you both to set up The Loh Foundation?
Nelson (NL): We have always had the belief in the importance of giving back to society and supporting local. Through our previous efforts, we hold true to the philosophy that circumstances should not define one’s future. We want to positively impact communities is true to heart, not just by monetary provisions, but to create opportunities and level the playing field for those who fall through the cracks in the system.
Terence Loh (TL): We have a soft spot for groups that are overlooked and not in the mainstream and can’t draw in the big sponsors, yet embody causes which we believe in. Our avid love of sports and seeing how previous sporting programmes have opened up opportunities can help shape kids, are reasons why we have been supporting sports-related groups. The Amateur Muay Thai Association Singapore, NOVU Racing Team and St. Michael’s Soccer Association, just to name a few.
Was it a dream that was up in the air for a long time?
NL: Yes, it has always been one of our goals for some time to set a foundation to allow a legacy to continue.
Why is helping others so important to you?
TL: We know we have been fortunate in our lives. But through school or current work, we have had friends and people we know that need help, and that has left a stamp to give back when we can. As individuals who love challenges and breaking conventions in our business ventures, we have seen how helping others can create significant shifts in society as a whole. This motivates us further and for selfish reasons, gives us a sense of gratification when a need is met.
Why is there the importance for social leadership in the corporate world? And is it possible to separate the love of moneymaking from the want to do good?
TL: In this day and age, strong corporate social responsibility is important to champion as it also sets a standard for other companies to follow and do good for society.
NL: Let’s take millennials for example. They are always looking to work for organisations that they believe in. What we hope to create is an exciting environment for people to work in, one that looks beyond profit-making and also focuses on the larger, societal issues, such as the environment, sustainability and equality.
TL: I do not see it as a separation, but more about finding a balance in decisions. Corporate social responsibility is something that international investors look for in a company, and we definitely see this as a way of differentiating ourselves from everyone else. The more important thing is [we are] not [doing this] for the sake of doing it, but because it is truly something we believe in. That is why we keep going back to education and healthcare, giving back in the two areas we specialise in.
“I do not see it as a separation but more about finding a balance in decisions,” Terence Loh
Explain the unifying power of sports and why it matters.
NL: Being avid sportsmen ourselves from a young age, we know that sports provides a connective platform that binds people from different backgrounds and any age together. What matters most in sports is the values it carries – such as persistence, resilience, determination, teamwork and respect.
What other social issues would you like to address and why?
TL: As mentioned above, we hope to also address other societal issues such as doing good for the environment, sustainability, equality, etc. The heartbeat of the upcoming Education Benefit Gala is a step towards equality for marginalised women and children from disadvantaged families. We aim to raise money for four Singapore charities to empower the underprivileged with equal opportunities through education. We have reaped the benefits of education ourselves, and we are aware of how it is an important stepping stone in life.
Name one person whom you look up to and why?
NL: The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. He changed history and made a difference in conventions by championing important social causes.
Define the kind of legacy you’d like to leave behind.
TL: We want to be the changemakers levelling the playing field, and to provide more opportunities and platforms for the next generation to be empowered and to shine.