Through their business in workplace safety, husband-and-wife team Roy Yeo and Faith Tay are reaching out to both the unsafe and unsaved.
Bond International Consultants Pte Ltd, set up by risk assessment specialist Roy Yeo 10 years ago, is in the business of keeping people safe. As an organization accredited by the Ministry of Manpower, it helps companies identify workplace hazards as well as conduct audits and give trainings on safety practices.
In the initial years, the company did not grow much. “However, as we grew closer to God in our personal lives, we realized that God has a plan for every company. Both my wife Faith and I started to pray for a vision for our company,” says the former civil servant.
Their prayer did not go unanswered. The couple found themselves slowly growing in creativity, clarity and commitment to their work. In 2007, they wrote and published the book The Zero Success: Seven Surefire Steps to Effective Workplace Safety. The book, in its fourth edition this year, influenced both local and international companies—including those in Brunei and Laos—to value valuing the lives of their workers. Proceeds from the book went to MS Care, a support group for multiple sclerosis patients and their caregivers.
The company also conducts free safety seminars for the public every month to promote workplace safety, with support in the form of speakers from organizations such as the Ministry of Manpower, Singapore National Employers Federation and the National Safety Council of Singapore.
Together with their business partners David and Lesley Skews, the Yeos have set a vision for the company: To impact 200,000 lives in the Indochina region through their profession by 2017, by helping to alleviate poverty and improve the working environment of people in Asia, especially in Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.
“Incidentally, these are also places where people hardly interact with Christians, where millions have not heard of Jesus,” says Yeo. “We feel that our corporate vision needs to be in line with the Great Commission—to reach out to the unsafe who are also unsaved. Because of this vision, we have decided that whenever a company engages us, the decision to accept the contract will not be based on profits but on how many lives we can impact.”
Walking The Talk
The opportunity to put the vision into practice came soon enough. When a devastating industrial explosion took the lives of many workers in Myanmar last year, Bond was engaged by a large Burmese corporation to conduct safety audits. “The profit margin was low and the business opportunity cost huge if we were to undertake the job, as our business in Singapore was booming at the moment,” recalls Yeo. Furthermore, communication would be severely limited (internet access in Myanmar is controlled and there is no auto roaming service). But after factoring in the scope of work that could be done, Yeo packed up and left for Burma with a staff member.
The poverty that greeted them upon arrival was shocking. “Many of the factory workers were teenagers working in poor and unsafe conditions.” Getting down to business, they advised the employers on proper workplace safety. “Surprisingly, many employers listened because we came with authority as safety auditors—they understood that without safety audits, more explosions and fatalities might happen and factories will close down and cause thousands to lose their livelihood. As safety auditors, we were able to access places which would otherwise be closed to foreigners.”
Having built relationships with the workers as well as businessmen, and even those with links to the military, Bond is now planning to set up a school there for the needy.
Breaking The Poverty Cycle
In the footsteps of the Skews who have been involved with an orphanage under the organization Care for Cambodia for the past decade, the Yeos made their first trip to Cambodia recently, bringing with them material contributions made by their staff. “We were amazed by the love and care given to these children. Some of them were rescued from sex trafficking, and have grown up loving God. They have a worship team that consists entirely of children as young as 12. You would be touched by how they sing like professional worship leaders,” says Tay.
The Yeos helped conduct a training program for budding Cambodian entrepreneurs called Entrepreneurial Life. Started by Australians Mark and Jo Dennert, the course frames the application of Biblical principles in an entrepreneurial context. “In these developing nations, educating the young is so much more effective than giving them a handout, as it will equip them to create job opportunities and help others,” Tay explains.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF ROY YEO|
Comprising 20 young Cambodians, the course is conducted over a few days, but it entails a two-year mentoring programs. At the moment, only Cambodians who pass a personality profiling test for leaders are accepted into the program, due to limited resources. Cambodians make tough students, notes Yeo. “Perhaps it is because of the oppression suffered under the Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge reign, but generations of Cambodians grew up with the mentality that it is not appropriate to have dreams and visions. Thus, they are less vocal and responsive in the class.”
But after the first day of training, the students were each asked to present their vision to the class. One young lady shared that she was given a picture of a star and a dream to start a childcare center. Although she was uneducated, she hoped that thousands of children in Cambodia can be cared for and given a chance at education. Says Tay: “We pray that at least one of the participants will become a successful Christian entrepreneur and create jobs for thousands.”
A Ministry Unto God
Perhaps the hardest part about visiting children in another country is having to leave their own children, 3-year-old Solomon and 9-month-old Esther, at home. The Yeos went on mission trips together until the birth of their firstborn, and feel an even greater need to go on such trips now that they are parents. “It is for our children’s spiritual good. If their parents don’t lead a purposeful life by example, they won’t either,” says Yeo.
The exposure also helps them take the grind of daily life in stride, including the betrayal of an ex-employee, also a family relative who quit, taking with him a staff member, company information and contacts, and breached the non-competition agreement by setting up his own rival company. Says Tay, “We were hurt but instead of letting unforgiveness take hold of us, we diverted our attention to helping others. When we see how the needy in developing countries struggle with life and death on a daily basis, suddenly our problems in Singapore seem so insignificant. By the time we returned home, we realized that we had already forgiven them.”
“God has not only protected but continues to prosper our business and investments, and our children too,” says Yeo. “Whenever Solomon hears worship songs, he prostrates himself and raises his hands—perhaps he has seen me doing the same thing every morning during worship, and at his age, he may not understand yet but I think God is guiding him.”
The Yeos are the epitome of a happy balance of work, life and ministry. “Life is so purposeful with a vision that is far greater than just tending to our family and career,” says Yeo. “We know why God planned for us to be in this business and profession—this is our little ministry for Him.”
Find out more about Bond International Consultants or buy the Yeos’ book at www.bond-intl.com