Jack Sim first caught our attention when he spoke at the World Entrepreneurship Forum in Hangzhou last month, alongside our Chair and Founder Larry Sullivan. He is best known for his association with the World Toilet Organisation (WTO), which he created as a global platform for worldwide sanitation issues. The focus of this year’s forum, ‘How Business can create Social Impact,’ led to his invitation to speak at this event where his attitude and charisma made him a man to be listened to…
A true businessman, Mr Sim does not believe in free and charity, he believes in the market – this is why at COINS Foundation we focus on social enterpriseLarry Sullivan
Not alone in his views, Mirela Sula (co-founder of Migrant Women Limited, and Editor in Chief of Global Woman Magazine) also commended Sim’s entrepreneurial mindset, featuring him in her article ‘Five men that inspired me in China.’
A successful businessman since the age of 24, by the time he was 40, Sim was already running 16 companies and had reached financial independence. Having achieved this, financial rewards did not have the same value as the time he would spend earning it, prompting a shift in direction and focus.
I read one morning in the newspaper when PM Goh Chok Tong mentioned that we should measure our graciousness according to the cleanliness of our public toilets. I thought this is my calling…Jack Sim
Determined to break the norm, he believed only by making it a topic that was acceptable to talk about, could change happen. In 1998, Sim took the subject of toilets to centre stage by establishing the Restroom Association of Singapore (RAS) with the World Toilet Organisation following just three years later.
His work was quickly recognised at the highest levels, picking up numerous awards including; Singapore Green Plan Award (2004), Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Schwab Foundation of Switzerland in 2006 and becoming an Ashoka Global Fellow.
Despite acknowledgement worldwide, his passion and attitude appears to be the catalyst of his success, giving up his work full time in 2005 to work pro-bono at WTO, it has grown from strength to strength.
Today, WTO is a growing network of 186 organizations in 56 countries. World Toilet Organization declared 19 November as World Toilet Day in 2001 and this is now celebrated worldwide.worldtoilet.org
Using humour to broach the topic, Sim has managed to make sanitation something to discuss, rather than to avoid, with campaigns such as: The Urgent Run, Raising a Stink and The Big Squat encouraging people to get involved. Appropriately nicknamed, ‘Mr Toilet,’ Sim embraces this identity and is proud that the work he is doing is getting getting so much recognition that this is how he’s referred to.
His video, ’Meet Mr Toilet,’ covers the key aspects as to why poor sanitation is everyone’s responsibility, highlighting that disease does not discriminate based on someone’s level of wealth. Creating a video that is both entertaining enough to capture your attention, whilst being thought provoking to a level that encourages action is no mean feat. Sim wants to change the approach to sanitation, making toilets more desirable by becoming something that represents status, comparing it to owning a designer handbag.
It’s like fire…if you manage it, you can use it to cook, if you don’t manage it, it will burn down your house.Jack Sim
So make sure 19th November goes into your diary so that next year you can get family, colleagues and friends together and take part in these campaigns – you never know what difference you could make just by participating in ‘The Big Squat.’