Singapore International Foundation’s Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Programme Launches in Shanghai, Engaging Chinese SEs for the First Time

The China leg of YSE brings together over 50 young changemakers from China and nine other countries to bond over the business of doing good, marking the programme’s 10th anniversary.

Shanghai, China, 19 July 2019 – The Singapore International Foundation’s (SIF) signature Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) programme made its debut in China with two successive events held in Shanghai. The events connected young aspiring changemakers – from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Singapore and Thailand – to benefit from cross-cultural exchange and insights into China’s vast and vibrant social enterprise landscape.

Ms Elim Chew, social entrepreneur and SIF’s Special Advisor to YSE, said: “The SIF is proud to bring our signature YSE programme to China on its 10th anniversary. YSE has brought like-minded youths from many nationalities together to share their passion in solving social and environmental issues through innovative business ideas, while promoting greater understanding across different cultures and nationalities. YSE’s strong global footprint developed over the last ten years attests to the success of the programme.”

YSE Overseas Workshop | Shanghai
Shanghai is the latest city to hold YSE’s latest Overseas Workshop, with previous editions held in Bangalore, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai. Held from 17 to 19 July, the Workshop is exclusive to youths based in China seeking to take their social enterprise to the next level. This pioneer batch made up a total of 12 social enterprises from various parts of the country, namely Shanghai, Changchun, Hangzhou and Shenzhen. The youths engaged in an intensive line-up of activities comprising workshops, peer learning and sharing sessions, a World Café-style dialogue, a media pitching session and a public discussion panel.

“In recent years, we have seen an increasing number of young Chinese entrepreneurs no longer just focusing on pure economic returns. Instead, they are looking to make a significant impact by using commercial means to address social issues. This has added to the budding and vibrant social enterprise ecosystem in the country,” added Ms Chew.

“For young social entrepreneurs committed to drive social progress, our biggest challenge is ensuring sustainability. Within a short period, the YSE Workshop had introduced many useful skills my team could strongly resonate with. An example is the impact measurement session led by Capacity Building Assessment Centre which took on a clear and practical assessment approach. We look forward to applying some of these learnings to improve our social business model,” shared Ms Jenny Zhao, Chinese participant and co-founder of China Youth Of Tomorrow (CYOT), a social enterprise that strives to empower first-generation college students to drive social mobility in China.  

The SIF collaborated closely with main partner non-governmental organisation World of Art Brut Culture Foundation (WABC) and supporting partner Non-Profit Incubator (NPI) Shanghai for the Workshop. Over 20 organisations representing China (CN) and Singapore (SG) – including PricewaterhouseCoopers Shanghai (CN), BCorps China (CN), First Respond (CN), Next Step Connection (SG and CN), Origami Frontiers (SG) and Social Collider (SG) – also supported the Workshop as speakers and mentors to the participants.

Mr Shiming Miao, Founder, WABC said: “We are honoured to partner with the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) for their first ever YSE Overseas Workshop in China. Our organisations share the same vision to support youths in their social entrepreneurship journey. WABC first collaborated with the SIF through their Changemakers for a Better World programme in Singapore in March – where 15 changemakers from five countries exchanged insights and ideas on addressing common societal issues for a better world.  We hope to engage in more meaningful collaborations with the SIF in future.”

Ms Ding Li, Vice President of NPI, said: “NPI is pleased to support the YSE programme as a supporting partner. We see the inaugural YSE Overseas Workshop in Shanghai as an empowering platform for youths in China to widen their networks and gain new perspectives in growing their social enterprise. We look forward to deepening this partnership with our friends from Singapore for many years to come.”

Participants from the Overseas Workshop in Shanghai will have the opportunity to further their YSE journey by applying for direct admission into the 2020 edition of the main international programme.

YSE 2019 Inaugural Study Visit to Shanghai
As part of its annual Singapore programme, YSE also brought its 2019 shortlisted SEs for a study visit to Shanghai. From 15 to 19 July, this diverse group – comprising over 30 youths of nine nationalities – visited Chinese social enterprises and interacted with leading industry experts from the city. Some of these partners included the Shanghai chapters of Impact Hub and Chi Heng Foundation.

In addition, local and international participants, from the Overseas Workshop and Study Visit respectively, had the opportunity to network and exchange cross-border perspectives. One of their joint activities included an interactive session titled ‘Inclusiveness and Enterprise’ led by WABC. This session explored and promoted the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workplace. An international YSE team, Tactopus Learning Solutions from India, also showcased their latest work developments in this sector.

Victor Zhu, co-founder of Singaporean social enterprise Hatch, said: “There is so much to learn from Shanghai’s social enterprise scene. We met many inspiring individuals and groups who shared their unique and innovative ways to make the world a better place. Their passion to drive positive change is contagious. I am proud to be connected to the YSE ecosystem.”

Now in its 10th year, YSE is a signature SIF programme that seeks to inspire, equip and enable youths from all over the world to launch or scale up their social enterprises in Singapore and beyond. To date, YSE has nurtured a global alumni network of over 1,000 youths representing 30 nationalities. This network is part of, and connected to, the larger international YSE ecosystem of changemakers including business consultants, established social entrepreneurs and industry experts. The YSE programme is chronicled on social media with the hashtag #sifyse.



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