Speech By Ms Juthika Ramanathan, SIF Governor, At The SIF Connects! Singapore Welcome Reception, At The Temasek Shophouse In Singapore

Distinguished Guests,
Partners and Friends,

Good morning. Welcome to the biennial SIF Connects! Singapore reunion.

To our alumni from abroad, thank you for flying into Singapore to reconnect with the SIF and friends despite the distance and your busy schedules. We also appreciate the presence of our valued partners from Thailand’s King Mongkut University of Technology Thonburi, the Vietnam-Singapore Friendship Association, and the International Affairs and Investment Board from the Government of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. I am delighted by the rich mix of nationalities, cultures, and professions gathered here, united by a common purpose – making friends for a better world, one we envision as more inclusive, peaceful, and offering opportunities for all.

Over the next two days, we have curated an exciting programme to update our friends on social innovations in Singapore since we last met.  As it is also the Singapore Bicentennial year, we would love for you to join us on a journey to discover Singapore’s 700-year history. I understand you will be visiting the centrepiece event, “From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience”, this afternoon. The multimedia sensory experience will give you a glimpse into how Singapore has faced obstacles and transformed through the centuries – by staying open and connected to regional and international developments. We hope this will give you more insights into Singapore’s heart and soul as you participate in SIF Connects!. Do ask many questions, as it is through constructive dialogue that we strengthen understanding of each other’s cultures, and foster better ties and trust as a global community. By the end of your visit in Singapore, I hope you will be inspired by new ideas for collaborations between our communities for positive change.

I take this opportunity to also share with you developments at the foundation since our last SIF Connects! Singapore in 2017. In 2018, we launched the ASEAN Youth Fellowship in partnership with Singapore’s National Youth Council. The Fellowship is an exclusive leadership programme to grow and connect emerging young ASEAN leaders, many of whom are actively involved in community work. In April 2019, we held the inaugural Bazaar for Good – to showcase the many collaborations between Singaporeans and our international friends that have tangibly contributed to a better world. Here, SIF’s Patron, President Halimah Yacob, got to meet our friends from our various programmes and to understand their work in areas such as the arts, good business, and sustainable development. Her Excellency was greatly inspired by their work and made the first pledge towards a better world – SIF’s call for global citizens who believe in harnessing the power of connections and collaborations for the greater good. At tomorrow’s ShiOK! Nite, do look out for our pledge wall and add your own undertaking.

Finally, just this October, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of SIF’s signature YSE – the Young Social Entrepreneurs – programme. We are proud to share that the YSE alumni network has grown to over 1,000 young changemakers across 30 nationalities. We also conducted an impact study to better capture YSE’s impact and sustainability over the years. To note a few key findings, we found that 85.7 percent of winning YSE teams remain in business, and the social enterprises that remained in business experienced an average increase in revenue of 268 percent. I think you will agree with me that these are impressive outcomes to be proud of!

What has made these milestones especially meaningful is the unwavering support we have received from you, our valued friends and partners. The SIF’s mission – to bring world communities together to do good – would not be possible without your hand in friendship.

Incidentally, today is International Volunteer Day, which celebrates the efforts of organisations and individuals in promoting volunteerism. Indeed, the work of SIF is enabled by many Singaporean volunteers who work alongside their counterparts overseas to deliver on positive change. I take this opportunity to acknowledge their generous contributions of  time and talent.

SIF Connects! has provided a platform for our global programme alumni, partners, and friends to reconnect and renew relationships since 2010. Connects! has since gone to 15 different cities, some many times over the years. Each time, we are grateful when we visit for your warm reception. We hope to reciprocate your hospitality through SIF Connects! Singapore and I wish everyone a merry and meaningful time in Singapore.



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