ETCH Empathy was started in 2013 by current CEO, Mr Aaron Yeoh (Pictured left)
During my primary school days, my dad’s business venture with his siblings went bankrupt and he had to sell away his private property and car. My parents could not buy a public housing in their name and we borrowed our relative’s name to get public housing. Constantly we face discrimination from relatives and also fear that the authorities would find out about this illegal transaction. During the 2009 financial crisis, seeing people going into poverty set me thinking of my life journey and my future. I began to read and research on how social enterprise can help transform society. One of the books that I read was about Prof Muhammad Yunos on his work and impact for the poor. The insight that I gather is empathy. The ability to empathise is the key to a more humane society. Since then I started to chart my own journey and started a social enterprise, Etch Empathy.
Aaron’s work in the social and youth sector
Aaron’s first attempt with humanitarian calling was in 2004, when the tsunami hit Asia. Armed with overwhelming compassion and a desire to serve, he volunteered to help a local VWO that was assisting with providing humanitarian aid. Unfortunately, due to a lack of required skill set, he was posted to a call centre and tasked with handling administrative matters.
In 2009, he was given the opportunity to lead his first International Service-Learning (ISL) expedition, under National Youth Council’s Youth Expedition Project (YEP). The road towards being an effective ISL leader was a challenging one, but the skills he gained from the experience as well as the memories and lesson learned proved to be life changing. From then on, he was inspired to lead even more teams for humanitarian work and youth development projects in 2010 and 2013.
As a seasoned overseas volunteer, Aaron began to realise the true meaning of a sustainable humanitarian work, which he characterizes as the ability to empathise, learn and work collectively with local communities and beneficiaries to anticipate their needs and serve them accordingly. This epiphany inspired him to set up a Social Empathy such that he could cultivate empathy and pass on these lessons he had learned to the larger Singaporean community.
In 2012, during her last semester of study in NUS, Pin Qi, a participant from Aaron’s first ISL approached him with the idea of planting seeds of empathy for youths and youth volunteers for humanitarian work. After much deliberation, Aaron decided to join Pin Qi in starting ETCH Empathy in early 2013, with a shared vision of creating unique experiences for more humanity in this world.
Aaron is now a certified EQ Practitioner and Trainer, ready to make a difference with the rest of his committed and enthusiastic team at ETCH Empathy.