The Lockr performing a training demonstration of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which he channels as a form of mentorship for troubled youth in Singapore.

The Power of Friendship to Build a Better World

What does friendship have to do with running a social enterprise? We speak to young changemakers at the SIF’s Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Pitching for Change 2015 event to find out.

“We met various people from all walks of life. Yet the one thing uniting us all is our wit and our will to change the world through social entrepreneurship,” shared Stuart Thomas, 21, Malaysian co-founder of Triple Dot, a Malaysian and Vietnamese social enterprise that refurbishes and resells used goods from university hostels, creating value out of used items.

His is one of 15 social enterprise ideas pitched to judges at the SIF’s Pitching for Change event, held at Suntec City Convention Hall on 23 October 2015. Over 30 youth from six countries rounded off their YSE journey of mentorships, workshops and overseas study visits, with their final pitch to a panel comprising social entrepreneurs and corporate leaders.

They passionately presented diverse ideas to address various community needs in different countries – ranging from a volunteer-matching option for students seeking a meaningful gap year in between studies, to a safe transport option for women, the elderly and children. The common thread linking these business ideas was the added drive to help communities by effecting social impact.

The eight-month YSE journey connects like-minded young changemakers who encourage each other, with corporate business leaders who share global perspectives and communities on the ground through study visits – this year to India and Malaysia. Many YSEs underestimate the importance of experiential learning and global perspectives in crafting their social enterprise – which, at the heart of it, is about understanding, working with and helping people no matter where they come from. As Khairuddin Anshar, 26, Founder of The Lockr from Singapore, said: “Sometimes, being a social entrepreneur can be daunting and lonely. Having them around motivates me to continue doing what I am doing. This has made the journey not only memorable but also highly inspirational.”

Global networks and contacts made through the programme make a big difference for social enterprises looking to expand beyond their home market. Said David Pong, 25, one of the Singaporean founders of WateROAM, which currently deploys portable water filters to disaster-stricken communities in Malaysia: “The great thing about the YSE programme was how we could connect both within our circle of participants who come from various places in Asia, as well as with the social enterprise founders whom we met during the workshops. Within our circle of participants, we were glad to forge friendships that have led to much sharing of contacts and networks.”

While the 2015 programme has concluded with six winning teams set on the path to change the world (read more about them here), all the YSEs continue to stay plugged into an active support ecosystem of social entrepreneurs, business leaders, mentors and advisors who remain committed to giving back and sharing their ideas for a better world.

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