Miyabi Holm set up a business with a mission to help young sex-trafficking survivors.
What’s your story?
Five years ago I worked as a volunteer in Nepal to help young sex-trafficking survivors. Once I got back to my hometown in Sweden, where I worked within tech developing smartphones and IOT speakers, I realized that my heart was still in Nepal. So in 2016 I took a leap of faith and left my desk job to start my own social enterprise, Bahini, with a mission to raise awareness about sex-trafficking and to help survivors become independent.
What excites you most about your industry?
To be able to open up doors for women and girls that otherwise might have stayed closed and to witness their personal growth.
What’s your connection to Asia?
My mother is Japanese and so every time we travelled to Japan during my school breaks we also travelled to other surrounding countries. Being in Asia has always felt like being home. About two years ago I moved to Shenzhen and since about a year back I’ve been based in Hong Kong.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong! It is an incredible business hub for more reasons than what I initially had expected. One reason being the fantastic eco-system for imports and exports, which is why I moved to Hong Kong in the first place. However, the main reason for it to be my favourite is the communities that I’ve found here that are incredibly supportive and open to newcomers. I can’t think of any other place where I’ve met so many inspiring, engaged and dedicated people. It is a very transient city and so I have had the honour to meet people from all over the world and all walks in life who has shown immense support for what I do with Bahini.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Life may be short, but it can be awfully long if living in someone else’s shoes. Do what your own heart desires and you will never regret the path you choose.”
Who inspires you?
There are many people who inspire me on a daily basis- people I’ve never met and people who are my closest ones. I’m inspired by my mother for her strength and big heart, my Nepali didi Indira for her courage and selfless love, and my friends for being patient, entrepreneurial and mindful in their lifestyles.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
When I was younger I held onto various prejudices that I later on in life realized was wrong. To learn and understand that prejudice stems from a lack of knowledge has been incredibly humbling and liberating. I used to have a strong belief that I already knew enough and that my perspective was right. But we are constantly evolving and as long as we are open to the change within ourselves that comes from learning then we can truly grow.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have told myself that it is ok to ask for help, to swallow that whole nonsense of “I can manage by myself”-attitude and gotten myself a mentor instead. There is strength in being a community and helping each other grow. Many wheels don’t necessarily need to be reinvented in order to learn so I believe a lot of time could have been saved and frustration could have been avoided if I had dared to ask for help.
How do you unwind?
I ground myself with yoga, music, friends, good food and being in nature.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Koh Phangan, Thailand. An island with a great vibe, connected and mindful people topped with amazing vegan food and lovely beaches.
Everyone in business should read this book:
GRIT by Angela Duckworth.
Shameless plug for your business:
Bahini is an ethical vegan scarf brand that creates jobs for sex-trafficking survivors at Fair Trade certified factories, where they can become independent with good work conditions and fair pay. With each scarf sold, Bahini supports younger survivors and girls at risk with educational scholarships ranging from pre-school to college.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.