Cover Story
A Heart for Service
Grace Lim | 08 Dec 2017 00:30
With a strong desire to change the world, EPIC Collective continues to build new homes and lasting relationships

If you were to tell John-Son Oei that his name would one day be used in the same sentence as Muhammad Ali, it is very unlikely he would believe you. In fact, the founder and group CEO of EPIC (Extraordinary People Impacting Community) Collective actually saw himself building a career as an outdoorsy person, and going down the social entrepreneurial route was never his first choice.

“Ask people who know me; we can all agree this was not the plan. I’m quite a laidback character, relaxed by default. I thought I was going to become a fitness instructor, tour guide or even a jet ski operator because I was passionate about that,” Oei says.

So it came as a surprise to all – even himself – when he founded EPIC Collective with a few friends in 2010, after seeing in those around him the hunger to make a difference. He had just graduated with a degree in Communications and Media Management when he got together with a group of buddies to work on a potential house-painting project in Batang Kali, Selangor. From there, they found out that the village also did not have toilets, so they put out a request on social media and were overwhelmed when 64 people turned up to help.

Soon, they were approached by residents of a nearby village for assistance, and found that some of them were living in dilapidated homes. Once again, they called for help and in just 30 minutes, they had amassed many volunteers and rebuilt the abodes in only three days. This was what sparked the beginning of EPIC Homes.