The Battle of Ideas for Good

Now in its third year, our Young Social Entrepreneurs 2012 programme saw four teams instead of three winning seed funding for their social enterprise projects.

At the end of the pitching forum, four YSE groups emerged winners and each group were awarded S$10,000 in seed funding

The Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) programme seeks to inspire, equip and enable youths of different nationalities to embark on social enterprises in Singapore and beyond.

For 2012, YSE, now in its third year, was longer and included several new elements.

These included workshops, a mentorship scheme led by consultants at McKinsey & Company, overseas study visits to India and Thailand in partnership with Ashoka Foundation and Population and Development International, respectively.

The 2012 programme culminated with the Pitching for Change forum on 4 August. This was a do-or-die opportunity for the nine finalists teams to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges which included Elim Chew, Governor of Singapore International Foundation and founder of youth streetwear chain 77th Street; Keith Chua, Chairman of Asia Philanthropic Ventures (apVentures); Willie Cheng, Founding Member of Asia Philanthropic Ventures; and Chris Cusano, Executive Director of Ashoka Singapore.

Another first this year was the promise of seed funding for the teams with the most viable, sustainable and socially beneficial ideas.

There was no doubt about the quality of ideas displayed. The judges had intended to pick the three strongest social enterprise ideas, with funding provided by apVentures, but were inspired to pick four winners instead.

Asked to elaborate on the unexpected decision, Keith Chua said: “The nine ideas were at different stages of development, some at concept stage, some already in operation. Each is facing different kinds of challenges. When we decided to award funding to four instead of three teams, it was because we agreed that each has exceptional potential to go to the next level and bring real social benefits where they are implemented. We’re very impressed by the strategic thinking and the heart behind all the ideas.”

At the end of the pitching forum, the four teams were awarded seed funding of $10,000 each.

They are: Bagosphere, a vocational training company that provides affordable and effective training programmes for unemployed and disadvantaged rural youth in the Philippines; Start Now, the first non-governmental volunteerism advocacy social enterprise in Singapore; I.M. Pad which aims to produce cost-effective biodegradable sanitary pads made using unwanted water hyacinth plants, targeted at women in rural India; and Young Sprout, a low-cost tuition centre providing academic assistance to disadvantaged students in Singapore.

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