Networks for Social Impact in the Business of Doing Good

Young changemakers at the Singapore International Foundation’s (SIF) Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Pitching for Change 2016 event share how collaborative networks are important for any social enterprise

Mohit Dave (centre), Co-Founder of Saadhan, India, a Young Social Entrepreneurs 2016 winning team, receiving cheers from his peers during the awards ceremony.

“Through the YSE programme, I’ve gained new insights on the possibilities that may come about when social enterprises tap into the power of multi-sectorial networks. We are excited to explore collaborations with corporates, non-profit sector and government and see how that can help us scale our impact and create greater social value for the communities we work with,” shared Mohit Dave, 26, the Indian co-founder of Saadhan, a social enterprise that empowers smallholder farming communities in rural India with greater ownership of the food chain by improving their production, produce quality and marketing capabilities. 

Saadhan is one of the 15 bold business ideas focused on a range of issues from women empowerment, raising education standards, promoting conscious consumption to improving mental health that were presented at the SIF’s YSE Pitching for Change event, held at Suntec City Convention Hall on 21 October 2016. These social enterprises make it part of their business to effect a positive social impact. 

(From left) Muhammad Haziq Bin Mohd Rashid and Mohd Nasrul Bin Rohmat from Singapore, answering questions from the judges about their social enterprise, NOMAD, which seeks to partner local artisans with rural communities in India to create unique crafts. The crafts will be sold to a wider customer base to meet increasing demand.

35 youth from eight countries concluded their YSE journey comprising mentorships, workshops and overseas study visits, with their final pitch to a panel of judges that included investors and corporate leaders. Throughout the eight-month journey, the youths were equipped with business know-how, shared ideas with a community of like-minded peers and heard from experienced social entrepreneurs about their challenges. Six teams finally won seed funding to enable them to bring their innovative ideas forward.

Muhammad Haziq Bin Mohd Rashid, 23, the Singaporean co-founder of NOMAD found that the YSE network in itself was highly collaborative in nature. He shares that “the great thing about the YSE programme was the relationships gained and the mutual sharing of knowledge. I was able to forge friendships with participants from different countries and there’s a lot of peer encouragement because we share a common goal of effecting social change through entrepreneurship. Even the mentoring process with our volunteer business consultant was a collaborative one, it helped us improve our business model and made us better entrepreneurs.” His business outfit partners underserved artisanal communities in rural India to market hand-made leather products online.  

(From left) Sayid Hafiz Bin Sayid Zin and Shafiqah Nurul Afiqah Binte Ramani from PsychKick, a team from Singapore, sharing their innovative business model on using a mobile application to assist patients and psychotherapists in their treatment processes.

International contacts and networks made through the programme are also useful for social enterprises looking at regional expansion. Said Shafiqah Nurul Afiqah Binte Ramani, the 23 year old co-founder of PsychKick, who is creating a mobile application for both psychotherapists and clients with mental health issues to use in between treatments: “I believe the connections we gained through YSE would be a boost for our social entrepreneurial journey. Interacting with fellow participants who come from various places in Asia was like a window into their societies. We learnt about mental health challenges across different countries but came away with the understanding that this is an area of common interest for many of us. It has opened our eyes up to the potential that exists outside of our home market for our business.

The seventh edition of the YSE programme may have come to a close but the passion and determination of these youth remain strong. They are now part of a 480 strong network of changemakers who aim to stay connected to inspire and collaborate with each other towards positive social change. “YSE is a platform for the youth to meet, progress together and I hope that, even after the programme, we can work as a collective network - championing our social causes and working towards our goal for a better world,” said Hestyriani Anisa, the 23 year old co-founder of IWAK, which connects fish farmers in East Java, Indonesia to potential investors and training them in the cultivation of freshwater fish.

You may read more about the YSE programme’s finale here.

The six winning teams from the Young Social Entrepreneurs Programme 2016 who received up to $20,000 each in seed funding to develop their social enterprise.


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