Native Discovery (Native) – enhancing the livelihoods of Malaysia’s indigenous Orang Asli communities

The indigenous Orang Asli communities of Peninsular Malaysia are often disproportionately pushed into the margins of society as they are displaced from their ancestral land. This is due to developmental policies which prioritise economic gain instead of equity. The resulting loss of their connection to their land and livelihoods forces them into economically disadvantaged circumstances. This is further worsened by a misinformed poor perception towards indigenous communities in Malaysia. 

Daniel Teoh, the founder of Native Discovery

An engineer by training, Daniel Teoh observed how poorly other Malaysians understood the Orang Asli communities that lived amongst them. He also observed the Orang Asli have their way of life unjustly disrupted by policies that prioritise economic gains from their ancestral land. To remedy this, Daniel wanted to build channels for the Orang Asli to meaningfully participate in the economy as the dignified contributors they have always been while creating opportunities for the Orang Asli to shape the narrative of their own people. On the flip side, he also wished to instill a sense of allyship between non-indigenous Malaysians to support the inclusion of their fellow indigenous citizens. 

Daniel and Busi, a Native partner, explaining foraged plants to guests on one of the Native tours

To achieve this, Native co-creates community-based businesses that include community-based tourism and agricultural ventures. Native works with four indigenous Orang Asli communities in the outskirts of Selangor, Malaysia who were relocated from their ancestral lands but continue to nurture their relationship with their culture. 

Daniel and Raman, a respected Orang Asli leader, during one of the early Native tours

Since inception in 2019, Native has supported the Orang Asli community to improve their annual incomes by up to 20% with over $25,000 being re-distributed into co-creating community-based businesses in their villages. They have so far hosted 1000+ guests on tours led by Orang Asli partners and exposed thousands more people to positive narratives around Orang Asli culture through media and a growing range of products. Native currently works with two groups on community-based tourism (Kampung Serendah and Kampung Gurney) and one agricultural venture (Biji Bumi Durian) that packages and sells locally produced durian fruits. 

With QCT’s support, Native will increase the number indigenous communities they work with. They will also build more community-based ventures to enhance the livelihoods of communities they are currently collaborating with.

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