The Sabah Foundation, today operationally referred to as the Yayasan Sabah Group was established through Enactment No. 8 of the Sabah State Legislative Assembly in 1966. The man behind the establishment of Sabah Foundation was the Father of Independence of Sabah, the late Tun Datu Haji Mustapha Bin Datu Harun, whose vision was to promote a Malaysian consciousness among the people of Sabah.
The objectives of the foundation are providing education and educational facilities for all Malaysians in Sabah; creating opportunities for a more equitable distribution of economic wealth among the people in Sabah; and providing aids to charitable institutions and victims of natural disasters.
Over the years, the Group has diversified its activities to meet the needs of the day and to keep the forest under its custody in perpetuity. From simply harvesting to downstream processing of timber, the Group ventured into new areas such as agro-plantation, hospitality and tourism, shipping and real estate development in the mid eighties. In the last decade, the Group ventured further away from mainstream forestry into biotechnology and horticulture besides fisheries and food industries.
In the last five years, to meet global demand and an ever challenging business world, the Group has ventured into the oil and gas besides Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) industries.
After more than 48 years in existence, the Group has flourished, achieving its objectives of providing scholarships and loans to needy students as well as students who excelled academically to further their studies locally and abroad.
The Group provided a launching grant for the initial MARA Institute of Technology in Sabah at Sembulan, Kota Kinabalu, which now houses its very own Kolej Yayasan Sabah. The Group is also proud to have given a launching grant for Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Sabah Branch at Limauan, Kinarut. In 1995, the Group built a ‘fast track’ college campus for the temporary use of Universiti Malaysia Sabah at Likas, adjacent to the Menara Tun Mustapha.
The establishment of University College Sabah Foundation (UCSF) is another success of the Group in expanding its role in education. Branded as a “Green University,” UCSF subscribes that future generations must rely on a firm understanding of the interconnected issues facing us today so as to be guided towards sustainable living.
With the success in providing education to many graduates, the standard of living of the people improved tremendously. Equal opportunities were created for the people to make a successful living, especially those living in the rural areas of Sabah. Apart from providing education opportunities and educational facilities, the Group carries out Social People Development programmes through its office in six zones. Through these programmes, in-situ local folks especially housewives, retirees, unemployed youths and single parents are exposed to new methods, through workshops and seminars on how to start small businesses.
Being an advocator of conservation, the Group has set aside four conservation areas namely the Danum Valley, Maliau Basin, Imbak Canyon and Silam Coast.
In the Southeast Asian region, the Group has established itself as a pioneer in good forest management, leader in conservation efforts, and rehabilitation of logged-over-forest. It is also known worldwide for its biotechnology exports of tissue culture of superior quality teak.
From a humble beginning in forestry, the Group has jumped by leaps and bounds into the global business arena and continues to compete with the best.