Welcome Remarks by Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, SIF Chairman, at the Young Social Entrepreneurs 2019 Dialogue, at *Scape The Treetop in Singapore

Good afternoon. Welcome to the Singapore International Foundation, or SIF’s Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) 2019 Dialogue.

The SIF celebrates another milestone with YSE’s 10th anniversary this year. The race to enter the 2019 programme was intense. Our Good Business team, together with dedicated volunteers, had their work cut out for them. They were tasked to review close to 500 business plans! This is the highest number of applications we have ever received which speaks to public trust in the SIF’s programme. All of your business ideas showed great potential in innovation, sustainability and positive social impact. I congratulate the 45 teams who made it here today. We applaud your commitment to being a changemaker, and for having travelled from all parts of the world to join the Singapore programme.

A decade ago, the SIF launched a ‘first of its kind’ programme for youth to pick up the basics of starting a social impact business. It comprised a three-day boot camp that attracted all of six teams. Today, the YSE is an eight-month incubation programme comprising boot camps, study visits, business clinics, mentoring sessions, and pitching for change. In 2016, YSE bootcamps went international in response to overseas demands. We have since run several YSE workshops in India, Malaysia and Indonesia. We aim to bring it to China later this year. And this camp’s winning teams get to visit Shanghai in June. So do your best to win in your business presentation tomorrow, for the chance to visit and network with China’s social enterprises!

Today’s world has also seen rapid advances in digital technology that has transformed our way of life over a decade. Many social entrepreneurs today leverage tech-based solutions to scale social change.  Take for example, YSE 2018 alumnus The Kisan Union, a multi-national team from India and Singapore. Their mission is to build smart-solar kiosks that bring e-governance services to rural villagers in India. The aim is to connect villagers with zero access to technology with policy makers in their locality. I look forward to the team launching their pilot test in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh this year.

Another example is YSE 2013 alumnus SocialCops. This social enterprise from New Delhi leverages data intelligence to help solve global social challenges. Last year, they were named ‘Technology Pioneers of 2018’ by the World Economic Forum. By harnessing the power of data-driven solutions, their software has made meaningful contributions to reducing poverty and empowering women. Our panel of speakers – data scientists, as well as industry experts from Akin, Dathappy and Tableau Software –  will speak more on the topic of ‘Big Data Big Impact’ shortly.

I urge you make full use of the Dialogue as well as the rest of your YSE experience, to broaden your knowledge and widen your networks for potential collaborations across borders. Show us what this “YSE 10” cohort can achieve, and SIF will do its part to provide the support and inspiration you need. You are now plugged into a network of 1000 YSE alumni – likeminded peers of 30 nationalities, as well as 120 institutional partners across nine cities. At the SIF, we aim to bring world communities together to do good. Join us in building a better world with good business. Here’s to another 10 years of YSE!



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