SPARK-ing a Change for Malaysian Rivers

Earlier this month, CSR-initiative GAB Foundation rebranded themselves as SPARK Foundation at an event at Glasshouse, Seputeh. The foundation, which is the corporate social responsibility arm of HEINEKEN Malaysia, has been helping local communities via its water conservation and education efforts for the past 10 years. With its rebranding, the SPARK Foundation hopes to ignite deeper change, particularly with the youth.

In his speech, Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon, Chairman of SPARK Foundation said, “Our vision is to spark changes in the area of environmental conservation and education for a better tomorrow. And for us to make the changes happen, we will be working with the communities, especially millennials through strategic partnerships, for greater change.”

A special #betheSPARKnow video featuring three SPARK agents of change – radio host and content creator, Ryan Matjeraie, indigenous artist, musician and cultural activist, Alena Murang and emcee Zher Peen – was debuted.

Renuka Indrarajah, Trustee of the SPARK Foundation and Corporate Affairs and Legal Director of HEINEKEN, added, “Key successes in the last 10 years for the W.A.T.E.R Project include transforming water quality of Sungei Way from Class IV-V to Class III and establishing River Care communities along 5 rivers in Malaysia – Sungei Way, Sungai Penchala, Sungai Senam, Sungai Buntong, Sungai Kledang.”

Apart from the tremendous task of making our rivers clean, SPARK has also embarked on their English Enrichment Training Programme–which seeks to improve the level of English in Malaysia–for awhile now. The programme which currently reaches out to educators in 7 states, saw an improvement of between 40% – 60% to their beneficiaries in the areas of reading, listening and writing within 3 years. More than 465 educators from 230 schools were trained over the last 6 years.

With the recent and alarming study of the deficiency of global water supply by 2030, the SPARK Foundation places water and river conservation as one of its core pillars. “In Malaysia, more than 90% of our water supply comes from rivers, yet only 58% of our rivers remain clean. We hope to get other like-minded partners on board to ignite greater change,” stated Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon.

The Foundation will focus on four core strategies as its way forward for the W.A.T.E.R project. It will promote the use of water conservation technologies to reduce stress on rivers, enhance improvement of wastewater management on project site, partner with relevant government agencies for the River of Life Public Outreach programme and empower stakeholders on project sites, especially millennials.


The project sites are Sungai Penchala, areas in need East Malaysia, and Sungai Selangor in the pipeline. The Foundation will continue to provide future generations access to learning opportunities and invest in education-based projects across the nation.

Indrarajah spoke of the iconic brewery’s significant connection to the SPARK Foundation via its sustainability strategy, Brewing a Better World (BaBW). “One of the six pillars of our BaBW strategy is growing with communities. This is the mission of the SPARK Foundation, and this is why the company has committed more than RM16 million over the last 10 years, and will continue to support its activity with additional RM1.5 million for this year” she said.

Members of the public can now sign up as volunteers or become a partner via the SPARK Foundation’s website.