Remarks By Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, SIF Chairman, At The Young Social Entrepreneurs 2017 Pitching For Change Closing Reception

Good evening. Thank you for joining us today at the 2017 SIF’s Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Pitching for Change closing reception.

Through their eight months’ journey that included mentorship and an overseas study visit to Mumbai, the 37 YSE participants here have had the chance to work and collaborate with their mentors, captains of industries and societal leaders. I had the pleasure of interacting and watching some of the teams in action today. What I found truly inspiring was the zeal and commitment that each of you has shown when pitching your innovative ideas for businesses that are sustainable and socially conscious.

At the SIF, we believe in the possibilities when people with shared ideas connect and collaborate to effect positive change. I wish to share an anecdote that is truly an example of that. During this year’s study visit to Mumbai, one the teams, Troveko, consisting of American and Canadian youths, found a new member to join their team at the networking session at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. One of the university students in Mumbai saw an alignment of what Troveko was doing and what he himself was passionate about. He has since joined Troveko and is now their programme co-lead!

I would also like to commend a couple of the YSE teams here who had taken part in the programme previously. The co-founder of Signs and the Freedom Cups team, who participated in the 2012 and 2015 editions respectively, did not give up on their social entrepreneurial dreams and re-joined the programme this year. This exemplifies the steadfast spirit of the young social entrepreneur. It gives us all hope, knowing we have young changemakers with the never-say-die attitude continuously trying to improve the lives of global communities.

We are thankful to our YSE alumni who have taken the time to be the facilitators of the discussion sessions. It is indeed heart-warming to see the YSE alumni coming back to help build the community together. In closing, please join me to thank our judges for taking time off their busy schedules to share their experience with the participants. The judges are: Ms Annie Yeo, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility Asia Pacific, Deutsche Bank; Mr Jonathan Chang, Executive Director of Lien Centre for Social Innovation; Mr Tee Fong Seng, Founding Member of Asia Philanthropic Ventures; Ms Elim Chew, leading social entrepreneur and SIF Special Advisor to the YSE programme; and Ms Ng Shin Ein, Managing Partner of Gryphus Capital and SIF Governor. Our deep appreciation as well to our many supportive partners in this year’s programme including Asia Philanthropic Ventures, Deutsche Bank, McKinsey & Company, Ngee Ann Development, and Temasek International. A warm round of applause for our judges and programme partners please.

The journey of a social entrepreneur is sometimes a lonely one – with many challenges as well as learning opportunities along the way.  If you come across any road bumps in your journey, remember this – you are NOT alone. The friendships you have forged here present an invaluable support system. You are now part of a larger, ever growing global community of YSE changemakers! A YSE community of more than 700 like-minded individuals spanning 27 countries – all committed to building a better world.

To all the YSE teams, we look forward to continuing your social entrepreneurship journey with you. I wish you the best of luck and a pleasant evening ahead.  



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