It was late 2009 when I got fired from my job. Everyone I spoke to asked me if I had plans to start my own business. With two young daughters in an international school, I had honestly not thought about it. But people I knew and trusted seemed to think I should.
‘Why don’t you do it on your own? If you could continue with only a few clients, you’d still be OK’. It was at this moment, with the reassurance of my close friends that I decided to do it on my own. When some clients also confirmed ‘we stand with you’, I was determined.
The comfort of a small portfolio was enough to provide security for my family, but this soon turned into a firestarter for a bigger vision for the business. I also jumped on the invitation to work with my longtime friend Andy Gower, to open a new business in Cambodia, BMRS Asia Cambodia Ltd. This extended Rapid Asia’s presence and our reach in the field. Shortly after, I went from a desk in my bedroom to holding the keys to my own office in Bangkok and hiring my first staff. It was exciting and scary at the same time. Two years in I had reached my key measure of success, I had built up enough capital to keep the business afloat for a year, even if no new project would come in.
Pivotal moments often arise out of pain. In our fourth year, we landed a project with a major donor, but we were struggling to see it through. I realised Rapid Asia had reached a point where it had to become a brand with a solid organisation behind it. The experience with that first major donor forced us to elevate our ability to serve and was cemented the following year with a groundbreaking publication on labour migration in South-East Asia spanning four countries. It established our reputation and at the same time crystalised our vision for the years to come: Guiding sustainable change, anywhere.
As the founder of Rapid Asia, I’m proud of the team we have and the expertise and breadth of our year-on-year growing network. We have over 60 expert consultants and numerous sub-contractors who have worked with us across more than 30 countries. On any given project 20-100 people could be involved, rallying around our mission to find the evidence for change. It amazes me how a new generation of young people seek out Rapid Asia to do meaningful work and the opportunity to contribute to change. I say that with gratitude and immense pride.
Rapid Asia’s ten-year anniversary is in the midst of 2020, a year with extraordinary challenges for social development. According to Bill Gates, the pandemic has wiped out 25 years of progress in 25 weeks. However, it is my belief that the recovery of those years will be much quicker and we look forward to playing a role in that recovery and continue to guide sustainable change, wherever it may take us.
Daniel Lindgren, Founder of Rapid Asia Co., Ltd.,