Thriving Social Entrepreneurship Scene in India Presents Learning Opportunities for 37 Global Changemakers from Singapore International Foundation’s (SIF) Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Programme
Four shortlisted Indian teams from IRMA (Anand) and TISS (Mumbai) amongst those who will be part of the week-long visit designed to facilitate cross-cultural insights
India, 21 June 2017 – Young changemakers from eight countries and territories convened in Mumbai for a week-long study visit as part of the 2017 edition of the SIF’s YSE programme. From 12-16 June, 16 multinational teams of 37 youths got to meet and connect with prominent Indian social entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and academics from Ashoka India, Dasra, Intellecap Network, YES BANK, Indian Institutes of Technology and TISS, to name a few. Four teams from India are among this shortlist and together with 12 other teams, will now work on enhancing their business plans for the final Pitching for Change session to take place in Singapore in November where they will have the opportunity to receive seed funding of up to S$20,000.
The study visit was designed for international participants to gain cross-cultural insights into the vibrant social entrepreneurship landscape in India and multi-sectorial business perspectives, to maximize the impact and viability of their work. Participants underwent an experiential learning itinerary comprising workshops, sharing sessions, dialogues, and site visits to Mumbai social enterprises, academic institutions and community locales – all aimed at enabling and equipping today’s youth to be effective social entrepreneurs.
One of the participating teams was Signs, a soft serve and crepes business in Singapore seeking to provide people who are hearing impaired or financially challenged with a livelihood. Song Jie Tan, co-founder of Signs, said: “We gained valuable exposure to a social enterprise landscape outside of our home country during our visit to Mumbai. We were introduced to different mechanisms of running a social business and viewpoints on meeting community needs. These exchanges opened up our minds and inspired us to find new approaches to meet our goal of creating economic opportunities for disadvantaged communities.”
Lakshya Jeevan Jagriti is a social enterprise in New Delhi working towards enhancing the literacy level of mother and child through inter-generational education strategies. Co-founder Summaiya Afreen said: “The level of knowledge sharing during this Mumbai study visit has been really helpful to us as we refine our business plans for the final pitch. It gave us access to social enterprise thinkers and practitioners whose vast experience has inspired us greatly.”
Trovi, a social enterprise with co-founders from the US and Canada, seeks to empower artisans to participate in today’s globalised environment by connecting them to individuals who seek meaningful travel and local engagement digitally. Co-founder Elijah Johnston said: “The multi-cultural views exchanged during the study visit in Mumbai have taught me the importance of having a global perspective in running my social enterprise. Apart from opening up doors for me to build an international network, thinking globally will also broaden opportunities to create more social impact and change lives.”
Through the YSE programme, the SIF has given youths from around the world, a platform to achieve their social mission through entrepreneurial means while building their networks for potential partnerships and sustainable growth. The programme also offers budding SEs a collaborative ecosystem with access to an international network of changemakers, know-how and funding. Now in its eighth year, YSE has an alumni network of 656 young changemakers representing 27 nationalities. This includes 55 Indian YSE alumni, out of which five teams had made it to the top with their winning ideas (refer to editor’s notes).
Yogesh Kumar, YSE 2015 alumnus and founder of Even Cargo, a social enterprise from Delhi that seeks to empower women from marginalised communities with training and job opportunities, said: “The YSE support did not stop even after the completion of the programme. I received a lot of continued, sound advice from my mentor Ms Karen Tay, Marketing Director of Classic Fine Foods and former Regional Marketing Director (Asia) of METRO/MAKRO Cash and Carry, who helped me pivot my social business model into a more sustainable and viable one. With her years of international business and consulting experience, she played a role in Even Cargo’s progress to where it is today.”
Jean Tan, Executive Director of SIF, said: “The mission of YSE is to engage our youth in social change. India is home to many enterprising youths who have seen serious social challenges and taken action, applying innovative solutions to develop sustainable businesses for positive impact. Our young changemakers are here in India to learn from one another, collaborate and build networks of social impact. SIF wants to pave the way for these young changemakers to turn their social business ideas to reality, and in turn, enrich lives.”
Launched in 2010, the YSE programme seeks to inspire, equip and enable youths of different nationalities to embark on social enterprises in Singapore and beyond. The programme is open to all aged 18 to 30 who have a viable business proposition to address a social issue. In March, selected participants joined a four-day workshop in Singapore to learn from and interact with leading social entrepreneurs, business professionals and other youths who are keen on social innovation. Shortlisted teams from the workshop then embark on an eight-month incubation programme comprising business clinics, a mentorship scheme, an overseas study visit and the opportunity to pitch for funding.
For more information about the SIF’s YSE programme, please visit www.sif.org.sg/yse.
 The eight countries and territories are India, US, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Taiwan.
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