Speech by Ms Jean Tan, SIF Executive Director, at the Young Social Entrepreneurs 2019 Workshop Closing Reception, at the Lifelong Learning Institute Singapore

Good evening. Welcome to the finale of the Singapore International Foundation or SIF’s Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Workshop 2019.

Before I announce the results, I have a couple of people to thank. As you know, this is the 10th edition of YSE. When we first started YSE in 2010, not many people knew a lot about social impact businesses. In fact, we only had 6 teams in our bootcamp. Today, we are overwhelmed by 500 applications from 26 countries.  From 3 days, the programme has grown to 8 months. From just one bootcamp to a comprehensive programme offering mentorship from leading business consultants and entrepreneurs, overseas study visits and seed funding.  Our workshops have also expanded overseas - from  Singapore to Indonesia (Jakarta), India (Mumbai), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) and next, China (Shanghai).

Many people have enabled our success over the last 10 years in leveraging social entrepreneurship to deliver on sustainable development. So please bear with me as I appreciate a few.

First, I thank you – our young changemakers, for your passion and commitment to making a difference. Social entrepreneurship is a powerful means to engage people to work together to address global social challenges. To foster a world free of poverty, hunger, inequality and where ‘no one is left behind’ (2030 Agenda).  

To our tenth cohort, welcome to the YSE alumni network. It’s an awesome network, comprising over 1,000 changemakers of 30 nationalities. Admirably, to date, 83 percent of our winning SEs are still in business! Allow me to share just three YSE trailblazers who are thriving in the international spotlight.

First, we have 2014 alumnus Sazzad Hossain from Singapore. Sazzad founded SDI Academy, a social enterprise that teaches migrant workers English. Last November, he was named an Ashoka Fellow, making him the third Singaporean YSE to join this prestigious list. Second, Cricket One from Vietnam - a 2018 alumnus. They support struggling farmers and run eco-friendly practices through cricket farming. Last year, they were featured in the Global Food Tech Map, a digital platform that recognises the world’s most innovative food and agri-tech start-ups. Thirdly, we have the 2016 YSE team Kandama from the Philippines. They empower indigenous weavers by creating modern pieces with traditional fabric. They just showcased their collection at Paris Fashion Week, raising international awareness for their social mission. These changemakers began on their journey much like you  – with a dream to make this world a better place. I hope your peers will inspire you to give it all you’ve got this year in starting or scaling up your social enterprise.

Second, I wish to thank our programme partners and donors. They generously give of their time, talent and treasures to support our young changemakers. McKinsey & Company and Temasek International (TI) have been mentoring our YSEs since 2014 and 2016, respectively. Their volunteers – leading business consultants – work tirelessly with our teams, to sharpen their business plans, provide sector experience and networks to help launch or grow their social enterprise.  Some ‘die hard’ volunteers like Siddharth Pisharody have moved from McKinsey to Temasek, rallying his new colleagues at TI to also join the programme!

AP Ventures (Asia Philanthropic Ventures) was the first to support the YSE programme with funding in 2012 and, over the years in other ways as well. Deutsche Bank did likewise in 2017, contributing funding and expertise. Many others have also contributed as volunteer speakers and mentors.  These include institutions like Ashoka, AVPN, Eden Strategy Institute, INSEAD, WholeTree Foundation, United Nations Social Impact Fund and individuals like Allan Tee, Nicholas Chan, and Philip Morgan who have mentored the YSEs. My gratitude also goes out to all 9 judges today, led by Special Adviser to YSE Rajan Raju. They who have pored over and critiqued 45 business plans today – that was no mean feat!  At the SIF, we are indeed privileged to connect these forces of good to enable positive change.

Finally, I must thank my colleagues at the Good Business (GB) team. Over the years, they have carefully curated, nurtured and grown the programme to make it the success it is today. They take the utmost care to stay in touch with you and foster a vibrant corp of YSE alumni.  So don’t be surprised and please say yes, when they call on you to give back as trainers, panel moderators or judges. Because of their efforts and zeal, the GB team truly is the backbone of YSE.

As YSE turns 10 this year, we thank those who have journeyed with us and we look forward to building on its success with you. Thank you to each and every one of you for your hand in friendship. Without further delay, I shall now announce the shortlisted teams for YSE 2019.



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