Fostering Regional Collaborations among 50 ASEAN Changemakers for a Better World
The ASEAN Conference on Social Entrepreneurship brought 50 ASEAN social enterprises (SE) together in Singapore to connect and engage in collaborative problem solving for the region.
“There are three notable trends happening within the ASEAN community today which shows its evolution over the past 50 years. Citizens are well-connected due to technological advancements; the young population are tech-savvy; and governments are coming around to the fact that they cannot solve every single social problem,” said Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, Chairman of the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) and one of the speakers at the Conference’s opening panel session.
The panel – comprising Ambassador Ong, Alfie Othman from Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE) and Laina Greene from Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy (ACSEP) – discussed the need for ASEAN citizens to work together to identify and tackle today’s social challenges. Within minutes after the opening, the screen on stage was abuzz with questions from social entrepreneurs in the audience, sent through their mobile phones. These include – how social entrepreneurs could tap into the ASEAN socio-economic landscape for collaboration and growth, the shared challenges ASEAN social enterprises face, and how governments could support social enterprises. A few also readily came forward to the open microphones to address the panel.
This was the lively and dynamic atmosphere of the ASEAN Conference on Social Entrepreneurship organised by UnLtd Indonesia and SIF, and supported by the ASEAN Foundation and Japan-ASEAN Solidarity Fund. Held from 21 to 22 July, the conference aimed to foster regional collaborations among social enterprises, policy makers and the private sector so as to achieve a stronger ecosystem for sustained development. It focused on five themes aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals namely Youth & Education; Environment; Health & Disability; Culture & Tourism; and Food & Agriculture.
Following the opening salvo of discussions, participants continued to share their ideas in the interactive workshops and breakout sessions. Nine groups worked on social business plans before presenting their pitch to the audience, who voted for the top five teams based on cross-country collaboration, sustainability and innovation. A selected group of country partners, theme hosts and speakers then further shortlisted three teams with the most promising projects. The teams – ASEAN Barrier Free Tourism for PWD (Indonesia and Cambodia), Destination GOOD Guide (Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, Indonesia and Cambodia), and Agrigator.com (Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and Myanmar) – will showcase their work in Jakarta, Indonesia to potential investors or funders in October 2016.
Among the participants was Jamon Mok, Founder and CEO of Backstreet Academy and an alumnus of SIF’s Young Social Entrepreneurs. He shared, “The ASEAN Conference on Social Entrepreneurship is a very good platform for many social enterprises that have not been given the opportunity to network and collaborate on a regional level. While these social enterprises may work within the same sectors, the way our businesses operate in each country may differ. This conference has encouraged a lot of cross-border knowledge exchanges and also forged friendships, promoting a robust social entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
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