CEO of Mering Global, Co-Founder of Drinking Buddies 啤友汇.

Jennytha is the founder & CEO of Mering Global, a full-service global manufacturing and sourcing company that helps businesses and brands around the world turn their product ideas into reality. She is also the co-founder of Drinking Buddies 啤友汇, which imports and distributes craft beer into China from all over the world, with a specific focus on independent, small-batch microbreweries.

Jennytha is passionate about helping small companies, brands and individuals flourish, and throughout her life every project and company she has started has always followed this vision. She hopes that one day soon, she’ll also use her film and business degrees to produce films and tv content with and made by strong, fearless women that celebrate diversity.

Jennytha leads these two companies from Asia where she spends most of her time. In her spare time, she enjoys cycling, hiking, product design and reading.

What does diversity mean to you?

Acceptance and inclusion. Our collective strength and growth lies not in our similarities, but in our differences.

Why do you care about diversity?

I’m a TCK (third culture kid). My parents are Sri Lankan, I’m born and raised British, but I spent many years growing up in China. I went from a small-town Church of England school where I was the only brown kid for a long time, to an international school on the other side of the world where people came from all over the world. I was constantly surrounded by people from all over and it was the most welcoming, respectful and accepting community to be a part of.

When automatically put in such an environment and at such a young age it stays with you. It was never a ‘thing’, if that makes sense? It was simply the norm to be accepting and respectful. You don’t really think twice. Of course we all knew we were different and came from different backgrounds, but it was never a reason to exclude; we admired what made us unique.

I learned an incredible amount from my peers and teachers – about who they where, their interests, their backgrounds, their cultures – and we united in our collective confusion over the question, ‘where are you from?’ and ‘where is home?’. For us we were always Global Citizens but the world doesn’t necessarily accept that.

I’m a better person from this experience and feel enriched by everything I’ve learned. I’m sure if you asked others with a similar background, they’d say the same. My experience is enough proof that diversity is important. I’d love for everyone to have this environment or as close to it, because it does create change. I’m the result of it, as are so many others.

How can we build more inclusive communities?

From my experiences, all I can say is to build more inclusive communities you need to be respectful and accepting, and pass this onto others. Don’t pretend like everyone is the same or certain people are better, because it’s not true. Everyone faces challenges and we live in a world where these challenges are becoming more and more associated with religion, country, wealth, culture, looks and capabilities.

Learn from people’s challenges and accept and include them for who they are. Whatever your reason for not being inclusive in the past, or not enough, or wanting to be more inclusive, you can choose to change it at any time.

Travel if you can, find the beauty in the world and learn from it; and if you can’t, read, make new friends or strike up an Instagram friendship with someone on the other side of the world. Ask questions and be curious. Bring people together – if you’re in a sports group invite more people, start a book club, go for dinner. Just talk or have a conversation with people. Just simply start including. Start saying hi to people or smile, you’ll see it’s contagious. They’re then more likely to say hi or smile at someone else after.

Support and help people irrespective of their background and celebrate what makes them unique. There was a study, and I can’t remember where I saw it, where they found that helping is contagious – when someone knows or sees you helping someone in whatever form, they’re inspired to do it too. I’m certain that if you apply this with general kindness and inclusivity, the same thing will happen. Try it!

What is one thing you wish you knew five years ago?

Don’t be ashamed or afraid to do the things you want to do, and certainly don’t live your life for others.

What is your advice to a young person starting their career or entrepreneurial journey?

Remind yourself every day of what you want for your life, then work ruthlessly hard to get there. It doesn’t matter if it’s a goal to run a million dollar company, build a boat, or leave your hometown. Take risks while you can. Support and help others along the way. Embrace and learn from the failures that are bound to happen. Don’t dwell on the problems or obstacles – there’s always a solution or a way. And finally, take ownership of your life. It’s yours to live and no one else’s.