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Star Newspaper Malaysia featuring Ana by Karma Bhutan

Star News papers

Adapted from Star Newspapers:

PETALING JAYA: Despite being a chartered accountant, Quin SQ Thong has proven that she does more than crunching the numbers.

The Malaysian, who has been based in Hong Kong since 1998, started “Ana by Karma”, a project which helps illiterate weavers in Bhutan improve their lives.

Her story began two years ago when she visited Bhutan for the second time and met Karma, a weaver whom she had previously encountered during a 2003 visit.

Quin, a woman of compassion, discovered that the weaver was struggling to make ends meet then.

So, she offered US$200 (RM822) to Karma so that she could buy a sewing machine and produce items like bags and pillow cases for sale.

Karma turned her down. Instead, Quin helped Karma to sell her scarves.

Quin posted photographs of the scarves on Facebook and overnight, over 40 orders came in. In two weeks, 100 were sold. This rose to 1,000 within four months.

“When I put the money in Karma’s hands, she burst into tears,” she recounted, Karma being overwhelmed that this is the money she has earned with her own effort

That encounter sparked a social enterprise that transformed the lives of a community of Bhutanese weavers.

Their success put the entire village to work, giving rise to “Ana by Karma”. 

In less than18 months after the first batch of scarves were sold, they earned 34 years worth of income for the women, who previously had none.

“Ana by Karma gave them pride and dignity,” said Quin.

(In the eastern Bhutanese language, Ana means sister.)

Quin’s love for the community did not end there.

For many years, the Kuala Lumpur-born accountant volunteered her time to teach financial literacy to children, culminating to publishing a book with Oxford University Press for children to learn wealth management.

She is doing something similar in Bhutan now, for the women to learn financial literacy.

“Our weavers are mostly illiterate. They usually lack the skills and knowledge to manage money. This include learning foreign currency concepts, something that seemed complex to learn but Quin disclosed that she has a special way to teach even 7 year olds understand forex".

“By teaching them financial literacy, whatever money they earn can be used wisely,” said Quin, who works with a UK consulting firm which offers corporate solutions.

Despite her impressive resume, Quin insisted that she was merely a “simple girl” who hoped to encourage others to help the less privileged.



Mission of Ana by Karma - Spreading Happiness from Bhutan to the World. One scarf at at time.

Teach me to fish - the story of Bhutan weavers who yearns for financial independence

How we give makes a world of difference to the recipient.

With charity, the recipient gets a respite from life's harshness, but may create dependency.

In contrast, when we "give" with a clear mission to empower, a different story emerges. The recipient gets a ladder to progress in life. And with the same ladder, she can also help others to move up in life. 

Such is the mission of Ana by Karma for the Bhutanese weavers. We empower them by utilising their talent, and further equipping them with skills they need to continue climbing the ladder towards a brighter future.

We teach them to fish. 

Karma who was struggling not too long ago, today has not only overcome acute financial difficulties, but herself is a giver of hope. She has trained dozens of illiterate poor weavers, empowering them as she is empowered. This is the difference when one is empowered. The empowered is now teaching others to fish.

Spreading happiness from Bhutan to the world, one happy scarf at a time.