Growing up, 2016 Global Good Good Fund Alumni Zhihan Lee didn’t have a plan to change the world. He was brought up in a nurturing family that, although not particularly ambitious, provided such love and care that he was inspired to spread this to others.
Enter BagoSphere, the social enterprise co-founded by Zhihan in 2012 that provides affordable education to disadvantaged young adults in the Philippines. BagoSphere teaches these young adults the digital and soft skills to become work-ready. The organization is dedicated to unlocking the immense potential in people, guiding them to see opportunities instead of despair and helping them reach their dreams.
Through micro-funded student loans, Zhihan has made the BagoSphere program affordable. BagoSphere's “study now, pay later” tuition scheme empowers young adults to invest in themselves. Graduates from BagoSphere develop the communication skills and confidence to land jobs in prestigious call centers, and earn salaries comparable to those of college graduates. To date, BagoSphere has trained over 700 students.
Below, Zhihan shares fun facts, stories of overcoming challenge and defining career moments with us.
Q: You just met your 20-year-old self. What do you wish they knew?
A: You don’t need to study so much. Get a part-time job, work at McDonalds, volunteer at a local hospice, learn a new language, learn tango.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in building your social enterprise?
A: We had to stop our operations for about 7 months in 2016 because we did not have the proper paperwork with a government agency. It was a very uncertain and stressful period of time for the team. I am very proud that we went through it and emerged stronger and wiser.
Q: Describe a defining or “aha” moment in your career.
A: Our alumni returning back, some becoming mentors and guarantors for our new students.
Q: What has been your favorite age in life and why?
A: Always the present age that I am in and that is 31 because I don’t want to chase the past. I am trying my best to remain in the present.
Q: If GGF could grant you 3 wishes, what would they be?
A: Wish 1: Come visit us in the Philippines, meet the team and share a little bit of GGF magic. Wish 2: Have a GGF Asia Summit. Or do a rotating location thing. Wish 3: The nicest chocolates to all the GGF team, fellows and alumni for doing what you/they do