“I’ve always had a passion for health and social justice,” Grace Sim says.
A registered pharmacist, Grace founded Morlivly, pronounced more–lively, in 2022, a Malaysia-based wellness brand producing organic teas (GMP-certified by the Ministry of Health) handcrafted by indigenous communities in Malaysia.
The seeds of this endeavor were sown in 2019 when Grace found herself grappling with burnout at work and questioning her career path.
“I was questioning, “What am I doing? What’s next? How does it look like moving forward?” I was praying and asking God to show me the way forward,” she shares.
To her surprise, God opened her eyes to the unique position she was in, where her skills and passions could be combined for a renewed purpose that would bring glory to Him.
Choosing and growing a career until burnout struck
Grace, who graduated in pharmacy from Monash University in 2014 shared that her initial career choice was driven by her dual passion for health and wellness, as well as her desire for stability and work-life balance.
She candidly admits, “Looking back, there have been times I regretted becoming a pharmacist. I’d been working as a pharmacist for eight years yet still found myself questioning my purpose.”
Having been raised in a Christian home, Grace’s worldview and values were profoundly influenced by the teachings of her faith and God’s Word. She recalls, “In high school, I wanted to enter a field where I could reach out and help people, and in university, Micah 6:8 really started speaking to me. The concept of justice has always been important in my life.”
After becoming a registered pharmacist, Grace began her career at government hospitals. She was posted to four hospitals and clinics in the Klang Valley over the course of eight years, but right before the pandemic, burnout struck.
“Work is a way of worship”
“So I was in this season of questioning and COVID-19 hit. My church’s refugee ministry began handing out aid. But then I started thinking, ‘How long can this last, how long can we just hand out aid?'”
God’s timing was perfect. During this time, Grace joined Resource Global in 2021, a para-church organisation that trains Christian marketplace leaders. Over the course of eight months, she participated in a training course that helped her dissect her purpose, work, and faith, and brought clarity to her thoughts.
The course proved to be immensely helpful for Grace as it helped her crystallize her thoughts, confirming the nudge she felt from God to use her skills to help the poor and marginalized.
“In my season of burnout, I was really looking for a different career path. Then when I joined Resource Global, things started falling into place. One day, I was sitting down and said to myself, ‘I love healthcare. I also know about herbs and plants. I want to start a social enterprise that generates income for the community, bringing them dignity.’ It’s not just about receiving aid. Work is a way of worship, and it is dignified to be able to work,” Grace emphatically explains.
As part of the course, Grace was tasked with creating a ‘Gospel Action Plan’ plan that applied her learnings. That plan became the first blueprint of Morlivly, a social enterprise focused on wellness and restoration for all involved.
Advancing health, empowering communities
Morlivly works with an orang asli (indigenous) community that borders both Perak and Pahang. Through divine connections, Grace met a pastor from that community who shared that because of the pandemic, the community had excess crops going to waste.
Grace saw this as an opportunity to create a product from the over-abundant crop and generate a new income stream for the orang asli farmers. Leveraging her experience in the pharmaceutical field, she adds, “Tapping into my expertise, I was able to connect with a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) approved factory to manufacture the organic tea. Our products are therefore all GMP-certified.”
“Quality control is something I’m particular about; I want my products to be of top-notch quality. Just because we are a social enterprise doesn’t mean we should compromise on anything, especially quality,” she says.
Since its launch, Morlivly now purchases raw materials at an above-market price, and currently, seven core families from the community are involved in the work. Grace proudly shares, “Morlivly has produced over 2,000 boxes of organic tea, and our team consists of four people, including my younger brother.”
Reflecting on her journey, Grace shares, “The social enterprise has brought me much joy, but it has also taught me not to solely focus on performance and success. It’s a liberating perspective for me because I grew up believing that I had to reach a certain standard to earn God’s love.”
The longest distance is from your head to your heart
Although Grace had grown up in a Christian home, her view of the faith had been largely founded on works. It was only when she was 18 years old that she realised God’s ultimate love and sacrifice for her; that was the beginning of her real faith journey.
“It was also very recently that I grasped the idea of my true identity in Christ. I’d heard it growing up all the time in church, but it never really sank in. Today, I know I am God’s child and because of who I am as His daughter, I can live confidently without fearing what other people think of me,” she says.
Grace acknowledges it is still a work in progress but now is more aware of when she says yes or no simply because she’s trying to please people. Life now has taken on a new lens, and she feels she now walks in a “different paradigm”.
Asked if there was any pivotal moment that caused the shift, Grace shakes her head. The shift, she explains, happened over a few years of searching herself, reading the Bible, praying and walking with good people who supported her faith journey patiently.
“It’s a process. As they say, the longest distance is from your head to your heart,” she says with a gentle laugh.
A social enterprise is a different ballgame
So far, Morlivly has been a fulfilling journey for Grace.
“When I hear stories from the farmers that because of Morlivly, their children now enjoy greater well-being in terms of access to healthcare, better nutrition and education, it is meaningful. That’s a high for us, being able to impact society through our products,” she shares.
But as with any business journey, the lows also come hard and fast. Grace now understands how changing weather patterns have a tremendous impact on crop growth and farmers’ livelihoods.
There was a season of continuous rain in the region that prevented the community farmers from harvesting. Then, a batch of their crops died.
A land-clearing exercise by the authorities that resulted in crop loss followed, allegedly well-intentioned but carried out without engaging community leaders. The series of events forced Morlivly to halt production for a while, impacting the bottom line.
“The experience has taught me so much empathy for farmers, and it has also made the Word of God come alive to me. There is so much truth when it says, “He brings the rain and the sun [upon all]” (Matthew 5:45).”
Today, Grace is focused on marketing and brand awareness. “We need business at the end of the day,” she says matter-of-factly. As a social enterprise, she knows that if no one is purchasing their products, the farmers don’t get an income.
Morlivly has two tea flavours on the market at the moment: lemongrass and moringa as well as lemongrass and pandan. The teas are currently available at The Panas Grocer in Lalaport and Publika, Mahnaz Food Store in Shah Alam and via their website.
God is in the business of restoring lives
Grace is all about wellness today. She’s currently pursuing a two-year Master’s in Health Services Management while managing Morlivly, after which she hopes to continue working as a pharmacist until God says otherwise.
“My definition of wellness is being able to live up to who God has created us to be, to achieve our full potential as human beings. That encompasses everything: the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental aspects of who we are,” she says.
What’s ahead for Morlivly? Grace hopes one day to have spaces set up in different parts of the world where people can gather, enjoy a cup of Morlivly tea and hang out with others to talk about life. She wants to offer programmes on self-care, gratitude and build support groups for different communities.
As a young woman navigating life, Grace has learned the deep impact a strong community has in making all the difference. She attributes caring believers and friends as her support in helping her find her footing as a Christian and live out her purpose.
Many in her generation, she says candidly, grew up experiencing hurt and trauma within the church. Grace speaks from experience; her father was a leader in her childhood church and she faced challenges that came with her dad’s role as a church leader.
But she reminds herself (and all of us) that the Church is made up of sinful, imperfect people. The answer lies not in turning your back on the church, but finding a community you can be yourself in.
“I want to encourage Christians who have been hurt by the church you grew up in; it’s fine to go to another church where you can find a community that roots for you. Don’t give up on church altogether because there are good people in the church who will cheer you on, do life with you, care for you and give space for you to be who you are,” she says.
Grace is confident of this: that God is in the business of restoring societies, restoring lives, restoring us. This foundational truth is what drives her as a person, pharmacist, student and head of a social enterprise.
“I used to think Malaysia was the worst place to be in”
“In Malaysia, we complain a lot and are often not thankful enough,” Grace says seriously.
The reality is that God has blessed our nation with so many good things and as Malaysian Christians, we need to realise that our God-given identity is first as his children and then Malaysians.
“I used to think Malaysia and everything about it were the worst. It wasn’t helpful at all; I was just sitting there being grumpy. It was only when I realised my identity in Christ and the purpose that God had given to me that my life really began,” she says.
She challenges Christians of her generation to look around for ways God has given us to be an influence and impact. Start off with where God has placed you, right at this moment. It could be your workplace, home or neighbourhood.
A naturally fearful person, Grace knows what it means to take a leap of faith, to act courageously when every fibre of your being tells you not to try. But hold on to God’s Word, she says, for He promises that He is always with us.
“Joshua 1:9 speaks personally to me. He is with me, so I don’t have to be afraid. We don’t have to be afraid of life, of anything. Fear is such a common experience for human beings.
Pray that God will open your eyes and heart to see where He has placed you, and pray for opportunities for God to tell you how you can impact others,” she says.