35 Youths from Eight Countries Round Off the 2018 Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Programme with Innovative Business Ideas for Social Change
After eight months of learning and exchange, they also reflect on the bonds forged during the programme, and how their peers inspired them to persevere in their social mission.
The 35 youths from 14 teams came together for the SIF’s YSE Pitching for Change event on 19 October 2018 at *Scape.
Though coming from diverse backgrounds and working across a wide range of areas in society – including food wastage, education, agriculture, technology and consumer services – the teams were brought together by the shared purpose of making a positive impact on the world. The cross-cultural insights they gleaned from each other also enriched their learning.
“There is a saying that if you’re short of ideas, then travel. But at the YSE, people from different countries come together and we all share our ideas—you don’t have to travel so widely but will still get as many rich insights,” said Divanshu Kumar, co-founder of Involve, a social enterprise in India that aims to create an accessible education ecosystem through a peer-teaching model.
For one of the winning teams, The Kisan Union, the importance of cross-cultural understanding was of utmost significance, as they were the only team this year to feature members from different countries – Singapore and India.
“Having people from different backgrounds throughout the programme – and not just within our team – has given us many different perspectives that are very valuable for us to capitalise on and succeed as a social enterprise,” said Ho Jing En, Singaporean co-founder of The Kisan Union, which aims to improve the access to e-government information and services for people living in rural India.
She added, “The thing that is so great about the YSE is that it is international. The friendships and insights that we gained are invaluable, and you can’t get them elsewhere.”
The YSE programme is an annual eight-month programme that aims to inspire, equip and enable youths around the world to start or scale-up their social enterprise in Singapore and beyond. It consists of rigorous workshops, mentoring by seasoned entrepreneurs and industry experts from McKinsey & Company and Temasek International, as well as an overseas study visit. The programme culminates in the Pitching for Change session where teams are given the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts for a chance to receive seed funding of up to S$20,000 each.
The convivial atmosphere forged through their time spent together was palpable throughout the pitching session, and teams could be seen cheering each other on. Nam Dang, Vietnamese participant and co-founder of Cricket One, which aims to ensure global food security by offering an alternative form of protein from crickets, said, “Although it is a competition, we don’t really feel it because everyone is so supportive and we all want each other to succeed.”
Azmi Roqi of Indonesia and co-founder of Elvish, a social enterprise that aims to reduce operating costs for Indonesian fishermen by developing an efficient solar-motor for their boats, concurred, and shared that the camaraderie among the teams has been a source of inspiration on his journey as a budding social entrepreneur.
“There are many social entrepreneurs in every country and they each face different social issues. Getting to know everyone has really strengthened our motivation to go further because we know that we are not alone in our mission of doing good,” said Azmi.
The seven winning teams in 2018 are (in alphabetical order): Cricket One (Vietnam), Junior Art Lab (Singapore), Khemdro Dairy (Bhutan), The Kisan Union (Singapore and India), Kon Chhlat (Cambodia), Musimpanen (Indonesia), and TreeDots (Singapore).
All participating teams join an international network of almost 1,000 changemakers spanning 29 nationalities from the past nine years of the YSE programme. Next year marks YSE’s 10th anniversary, and the SIF will commemorate the programme’s growth and the success of its international alumni.
“We’ve had many young people who have been through the programme and created great impact, and become leaders in their own fields,” said Ms Elim Chew, Special Advisor to the Young Social Entrepreneurs programme. “We’re very excited for our tenth anniversary so do join us and be a changemaker!”
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