His grandfather’s desire to give back to the community inspired Elic Lam FCPA to set up a scholarship that gives disadvantaged students their own career break.
It’s hard to imagine that Elic Lam could have conceived a more personally satisfying charitable venture – his initiative helps underprivileged students gain an education at his alma mater, Tamkang University in Taiwan, while also paying tribute to his grandfather.
Through his funding of the Yong Dong Scholarship, Lam is inspiring students and enhancing their prospects of eventually enjoying the rewards of business, just as he has done.
“I feel that if I didn’t study accounting I wouldn’t be what I am at the moment,” says Lam, who is a co-founder and director of The Forlam Group, an investment firm with offices in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia, which invests in areas such as IT, accounting and logistics services in the Asia-Pacific region.
A decision as a young man to switch focus from IT programming to the financial sector has paid off for Lam, who also studied at the Australian Graduate School of Management (now part of the UNSW Business School). For this, he thanks his father, who once explained to him that accounting and finance is the cornerstone of business.
“Once you know accounting, you know the language of business and what’s going on,” Lam says.
“Everything with the scholarships is coming from his thoughts about the importance of giving back to the community.”
The name of the scholarship that Lam founded in 2012 is a tribute to his grandfather, a successful import-export businessman in his day, whose Mandarin name is Lin Yong Dong. From him, Lam learned the significance of community.
“Everything with the scholarships is coming from his thoughts about the importance of giving back to the community,” Lam explains.
With the scholarship model now bedded down, Lam is contemplating rolling it out to other universities.
“The vision is that I can help more people and make the scholarship much bigger,” he says.
His greatest satisfaction from bankrolling the scholarships comes in the form of thank-you letters from recipients. They often write and say how the funding has changed their lives – and that of their families – for the better.
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“That’s the most touching moment,” Lam says, “when I receive the thank-you cards.”
While he will always encourage successful business people to help others, Lam says such actions must come from the heart. For him, the scholarship reflects his embrace of a popular Chinese saying, shi bi shòu you fú, which translates as: “It’s more blessed to give than to receive”.
Yong Dong Scholarship, Tamkang University, Taiwan
Each year, about eight students receive financial support for their studies at Tamkang University through the Yong Dong Scholarship.
Since its launch in 2012 when just one student received the scholarship, about 30 recipients have now benefited from the program. Elic Lam says selection is not confined to those who get the highest marks – the key criteria are that students should be of good character and come from a family that is experiencing hardship and is eligible for financial support from the Taiwanese Government.
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