Welcome Remarks by Ms Jean Tan, SIF Executive Director, at the Ideas for a Better World Forum: the Role of Entrepreneurs in Developing Social Instrastructure

Mr Chris Cusano, Executive Director, Ashoka Singapore
Ashoka Fellows
Friends of SIF

Good evening and welcome to the Singapore International Foundation’s Ideas for a Better World Forum.

Ideas often start small, where a spark of imagination, fuelled by courage and compassion, can set ablaze innovative solutions to social problems that make the world a better place. Often, such sparks are ignited when people come together – much like tonight - to share ideas and challenge convention.

At the SIF, we believe in awakening ideas and harnessing it for good. That is why we started Ideas for a Better World. Launched this March, it aims to engage global thought leaders - to have them share their insights and inspire bold new ideas as well as catalyse collaborations between Singapore and world communities to address today’s social issues.

For tonight’s Forum, we welcome three outstanding Fellows from Ashoka - a global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. They will share with you their experiences in revolutionising the rickshaw transport industry in India; how slum dwellers are empowered to improve their living conditions, and the adaptation of modern technology to meet the user needs of the rural poor. In their own way, each speaker is a wonderful example of how an individual can, with a bold idea, compassion and determination, make a difference and build a better world.

Youth social entrepreneurship is a subject close to the SIF’s heart. In 2010, we launched the Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) programme with the aim to inspire, equip and empower our youth to embark on social initiatives in Singapore and Asia. We are heartened that many of our alumni have gone on to launch initiatives such as an online flip-flops business to put shoes on the feet of children in China, and a food stall in a local school that employs students from low-income families. However big or small, the SIF is very proud of our young achievers and happy to have facilitated to their social enterprise. Through the YSE, we hope to build a regional network of Asian youth interested in the development of social businesses that will benefit developing communities in Asia.

Much of the SIF’s work would not be possible without the support of its partners. We are honoured to have Ashoka as our valued partner. Tonight’s speakers are the third group of Ashoka Fellows we have hosted since 2009. In taking this partnership forward, I am happy to inform that SIF’s young social entrepreneurs will have successful Ashoka Fellows to learn from and be inspired by. This can only result in more partnerships for good.

In closing, thank you all for taking the time out to join us today. The SIF will continue to present global thought leaders at such forums. Next month, Dr Jane Goodall will speak at the SIF Ideas for a Better World Forum on sustainable urban living. We hope you will continue to support us with your presence.

Meanwhile, may you be inspired and enriched by the sharing this evening!



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