27 June 2023

New Young Changemakers from Eight Countries Gather in Singapore to Hone Business Skills for Social Impact

Nearly 80 youths attended training workshops and engaged in networking activities at the Singapore International Foundation’s 14th Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Global programme.

Group picture of YSE participants
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From 7 to 10 June, a total of 79 youths from eight countries gathered in Singapore for the YSE Global 2023 – Workshop.

It offered the 46 teams of new social entrepreneurs a range of interactive activities, including a fireside chat, learning journeys and training sessions focused on storytelling, impact measurement, and business management. Participants also had the opportunity to receive guidance and advice from industry experts during the business clinic sessions.

These activities aimed to give the aspiring social entrepreneurs new skills and fresh perspectives to strengthen their business models.

The workshop also featured the exchange of ideas and expertise between YSE alumni and the changemakers. One alumnus was Mr David Pong (YSE 2015), CEO and Co-founder of WaterROAM, an award-winning social enterprise that provides better access to safe drinking water globally. He led a session on making impactful business pitches.

The participants also attended a networking lunch with other Singapore-based alumni, including Ms Huda Hamid (YSE 2020), Mr Victor Zhu (YSE 2019), and Mr Aminur Rasyid (YSE 2018).

For Laotian participant Ms Manithip Vongphachanh, meeting the alumni and industry experts was the highlight of the workshop. She is the Founder and Creative Director of LeLao, a social enterprise that empowers vulnerable communities by training them to create sustainable fashion products that showcase Laotian cultural heritage.

She said: “The alumni and speakers provided great insights and valuable advice that can guide my social enterprise as I strive to take it to greater heights. For instance, many spoke about the power of building relationships and networks as an important component of entrepreneurship – which I am also trying to achieve through the programme.”

She added: “Meeting them and my fellow participants also assured me that I am not working alone. There are people from different corners of the world who are also striving for social change for the people in their communities. That motivates me to work even harder.”

Malaysian participant Ms Nur Haslin appreciated the opportunity to connect with inspiring changemakers and regional leaders from the social entrepreneurial space. She oversees operations at YouCan!, a social enterprise in Malaysia that helps people with disabilities to find employment.

She said: “My team members and I have learnt a lot from the speakers and our new friends from the other teams. We are now able to better envision the potential of our social enterprise to promote disability employment and champion social inclusion.”

On the final day, all 46 teams presented their social business ideas to a panel of judges, comprising seasoned entrepreneurs and representatives from the social impact field. The teams were then assessed based on their ideas’ feasibility, innovativeness, social impact, as well as the sustainability of their business models.

Fifteen teams from China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, and Vietnam emerged as the strongest contenders and will advance to the next phase of the programme.

One of the selected teams was Singapore-based HomePal, represented by Mr Chen Hong Wei from China and Mr Lai Hoi Bing from Singapore. The company provides an AI-enabled home system that detects falls and provide an early response to falls among elderly who stay alone.

Mr Lai said: “The sessions have been eye-opening and have provided us with essential skills to build a sustainable social business. We are grateful to be selected and are excited to work with our mentors to improve our business plan and proposal.”

Over the next four months, these 15 teams will refine their social business ideas under the guidance of assigned mentors. They will also attend monthly virtual learning sessions organised by the SIF.

The journey will end in November with Pitching for Change, at which the teams will pitch for an opportunity to secure funding of up to S$20,000 each. Learn more about the 15 shortlisted teams here.

Stay tuned for more updates on YSE Global 2023 on SIF’s InstagramFacebook and LinkedIn.