A total of 93 youths gathered virtually in Singapore, between 22 June and 1 July, to take part in a workshop to help them to grow their social enterprises. They attended webinars, peer learning and sharing sessions, as well as business clinics.
The workshop was part of the Singapore International Foundation’s Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Global programme for 2022. YSE Global was launched in 2010 to inspire, equip, and enable youths of different nationalities to start or scale up their social enterprises in Singapore and beyond.
Panellists of the “Makan for Good” discussion. (top row, from left) Mr Raymond Khoo, Founder of S17 Community Kitchen, Ms Qara Yoon, Co-founder of Yoon’s Social Kitchen, Mr Timothy Low, Chief Operations Officer at Halogen Foundation Singapore (YSE 2014 Alumnus), Mr Jesher Loi, Director, Branding & Marketing Development at Yakun International Pte Ltd, and Dr Shen Yiru, Founder, GentleFoods.
The workshop included a panel discussion titled “Makan for Good” that featured representatives from food and beverage (F&B) establishments that create social impact. The panellists talked about the challenges they faced to balance profit and social purpose, and how they overcame them.
The panellists agreed that while the F&B industry was hit hard during the pandemic, it was especially difficult for social enterprises, which also had to commit to their social cause.
Panellist Qara Yoon represented Yoon’s Social Kitchen, a social enterprise that serves traditional Teochew cuisine and rehabilitates female ex-drug offenders through employment and training. She said that her food retail business had expanded to conduct training workshops for schools and corporations. This has since become its primary source of revenue.
Ms Yoon added: “We had to have a viable business model to sustain operations and continue serving our social purpose.”
One of the participants was Mr Joshua Lim, co-founder and CEO of Beebag, from Malaysia. The company produces smart bags embedded with near-field communication technology, which works with an app to reward consumers who re-use their bags.
He said: “The workshop was a meaningful learning experience and we gained valuable skills and insights, which are essential for us to run a sustainable business while also creating social impact. I can now also tap on a network of social entrepreneurs for help as we grow our business.”
The workshop ended with a session at which the youths, from 46 teams, presented their business ideas to a panel of judges. The ideas were assessed based on their financial sustainability, innovativeness, social impact, team capability and commitment. Fifteen teams were then shortlisted to advance to the next phase of the programme.
Over the next five months, the shortlisted teams will undergo customised mentorship by business consultants from McKinsey & Company, Temasek International, and established entrepreneurs relevant to their sectors. They will also participate in online learning sessions and reconvene in November to pitch for funding prizes of up to S$20,000 each.
The teams were, in alphabetical order: Anahat for Change Foundation (India), Beebag (Malaysia), Fabriulous (China), KURA KURA (Singapore), Mengayu (Indonesia), MiYork Education (Vietnam), Palmira Indonesia (Indonesia), RE-invent (Thailand), Ripple Community (Malaysia), Sahabat Laut Lestari (Indonesia), SpedGrow (Singapore), Symbionic (India), The Green (Laos), Upcycle Corps (India), and Urban Origins (Singapore).
Full team profiles can be found here.
Ms Komal Parakh is founder and CEO of Upcycle Corps, India’s first B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) marketplace platform dedicated to sustainable goods and services.
The participant said: “We are proud to be one of the shortlisted teams of the next phase of YSE Global 2022. It has been great to learn from industry experts and peers from around the world. The knowledge gained will be useful as we continue our mission.”
Mr Jaewon Lee was a South Korean participant and the CEO of The Green, a Laos-based social enterprise. It aims to create stable incomes for small farmers in Laos through carbon-reducing agricultural technology.
He said: “It is encouraging to know that there are other like-minded youths from different countries making persistent efforts to create positive impact. The trainers and mentors were also generous with advice and sharing their experiences. We are thankful to be a part of the YSE network and we look forward to what’s in store in the coming months.”
Look out for updates on YSE Global 2022, chronicled via the hashtag #SIFYSE on Facebook and Instagram.