What does Eelah mean?

Before we launched Eelah, we thought long and hard about what we were going to call the company. Similar to naming a child (not that I have actually had to do this… yet), it felt extremely important because once that name is given, that is it! For life! (Well, usually anyway.)

We knew it was something we were going to be saying a lot so it needed roll off the tongue and be something we were comfortable saying. We also knew it needed to have meaning and purpose, and we also felt, just because of who we are, that we needed something that told a bit of story. We started looking at words that were similar to “different”, as we were adamant that the Financial Planning service we were going to offer, was to be individual, distinct and special. From memory, we (or I) were keen on Offbeat Financial Planning. Offbeat suggesting that we were, you know, unconventional.

It didn’t stick though and we carried on exploring. We wanted to conjure up something that would be the only thing returned when you Googled it – nowt else!. So, we started thinking about foreign words that sounded good in English but also had an important meaning.

Jo’s mum was born in the jungle in Borneo, brought up in an area called Bario. It is home to an indigenous tribe of people called the Kelabits, to whom Julia (Jo’s mum) belongs, and her upbringing is truly fascinating and well worth hearing her talk about. She’s usually more than willing.

Julia’s stories are as fascinating as the Kelabit tribe itself. I was planning to enter loads of facts here that you might find interesting, but as I was going to get them from Wikipedia anyway, you may as well just look directly at the Wiki page if you’re interested.

We had shortlisted various different words as potential company names but when Jo asked Julia what they sounded like in Kelabit - one of the rarest dialects in Malaysia, incidentally – we weren’t convinced that any of them really suited our brand. And then when we asked what was the Kelabit word for ‘Wisdom’, Julia said ‘Ilah’ we realised that was the one – our Eureka moment, if you will. Although thinking that it might be incorrectly pronounced as ‘Isla’, the name Eelah was born, with emphasis on the Ee, such is how it sounds.

Incidentally, the word means “the ability to think and act with knowledge, insight and good judgement”. We use this as part of our core values and as a reference point for each decision we make. It ensures we continue to challenge ourselves and our clients, to continue to get, and be, better.


Alfie Mullan, January 2019

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