Singapore-Malaysia Partnership Spurs Growth of Regional Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Ecosystem

The first ever Kuala Lumpur (KL) edition of the YSE Overseas Workshop series by the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) showed the active participation of 36 youths and 13 institutional partners from Malaysia over three days.

36 Malaysian youths representing 15 social enterprise teams are now part of the regional Young Social Entrepreneurs 656-strong alumni network with access to over 100 institutional partners across nine global cities.

Building on the success of the inaugural YSE Overseas Workshop in Indonesia last year, the SIF brought the programme to Malaysia from 18 to 20 July 2017. This was boosted by the lively support not only from our current but also new Malaysian partners. Malaysian business leaders, established social entrepreneurs, and representatives of leading academic institutions shared their expertise and experiences with local youths representing 15 social enterprise teams. This took place during the intensive three-day programme where the partners conducted training workshops, provided mentorship, shared insights at a networking session, and deliberated as judges during the final pitching session.

Some of the speakers such as Dr Emma Rhule, Chief Operating Officer of Tandemic and Dr Foo Yin Fah, Associate Professor of Sunway University Business School, lauded the attempt to create a community of changemakers and the Workshop’s regional outlook.

“In Tandemic, one of the things that we really want to see is more social good. A programme like YSE is very strategically aligned with our vision because it’s about building an ecosystem of social entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in the world. If more like-minded organisations collaborate and support each other, more beneficiaries will be positively impacted,” said Dr Rhule.

“I keep supporting the SIF because I think the role the SIF plays, in connecting different communities to collaborate for good, is very important. When it comes to operating a business, people are increasingly retreating back to their own locality but we can actually learn so much from intercultural exchanges. At Sunway University, we want to provide a localised point of social entrepreneurship support in Malaysia and we hope that it would complement the SIF’s work and enable more cross-border collaboration in future,” shared Dr Foo.

Participating social enterprise teams - whose work range from the agriculture, education, to ecotourism sectors – valued the Malaysian connection during the Workshop.

“There are youths, especially those in East Malaysia, who may have the solution to solving real social issues on the ground, but they just don’t know where to start. The YSE KL Workshop is great because it connects budding social entrepreneurs to local industry experts with relevant business insights, and at the same time, provide us access to a regional network – all taking place in our own backyard,” said participant Ms Juvita Wan, Co-founder of the Tuyang Initiative that seeks to empower Bornean indigenous communities living in rural areas, particularly the Orang Ulu, through the marketing of local and innovative cultural products and services.

Our Malaysian partners and participating teams also found time to network with fellow social entrepreneurship practitioners from Singapore during the Global Goals Mixers networking session. The evening began with an informal dialogue themed “Scaling Impact beyond Borders” with a panel of Malaysian and Singaporean speakers who shared their views and experiences on what it takes for a social enterprise to scale up. Central to the discussion was purpose.

One of the panellists Teacher Raj Ridvan Singh, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of SOLS 24/7, emphasised not to “shiok sendiri” (a Malay colloquial phrase meaning: being pleased with oneself based on a one-sided illusion) when aspiring to impact overseas communities. Rather, it is important to understand the community’s needs first. Co-panellist Ms Patsian Low, Independent Consultant and former Head of DBS Foundation, added that in order for a social enterprise to grow their business overseas, the founders must see the shift, not simply as a business expansion, but as a continuation and affirmation of their original social mission.

Other speakers on the panel included Ms Elim Chew, Entrepreneur and Special Advisor to the YSE programme; Mr Syakir Hashim, our YSE 2013 alumnus and Co-founder of Skolafund; and moderator Mr Zaim Mohzani, Founder of Nation Building School.

Dr Emma Rhule (left), Chief Operating Officer of Tandemic guiding YSE KL Workshop 2017 team Langit during her workshop on Impact Measurement where she shared how to apply key frameworks and tools.

On the final day of the Workshop, all 15 teams presented their business proposals to a panel of judges representing key players of the Malaysia’s social entrepreneurial scene including Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), AirAsia Foundation and Petrosains Sdn Bhd. After much deliberation, the judges awarded the winning spot to Langit, a social enterprise that aspires to bring economic empowerment to rural communities and smallholder farmers in Sabah and Sarawak through agricultural means. Langit will now continue on their YSE journey with a customised mentorship scheme, an overseas study visit in 2018, and access to the SIF’s regional YSE ecosystem comprising a network of 656 global changemakers.

Launched in 2016, the YSE Overseas Workshops bring Singaporean and regional professionals together to inspire, equip and enable youths who are starting their social enterprises to scale up their businesses in Malaysia, Indonesia, India and beyond.

Interested to join? Sign up here for our upcoming YSE Overseas Workshops in Jakarta, Indonesia (September 2017) and Mumbai, India (November 2017).

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