Passionate Youths Find Their Footing in Social Entrepreneurship through YSE
The Young Social Entrepreneurs programme kickstarted its ninth edition with a four-day Workshop that took international youth participants on a learning journey designed to inspire, equip and enable them to grow into successful agents of change.
It was a sight to behold in the heart of Orchard Road, Singapore. Close to 100 youths of various nationalities – decked in bright green polos – were set in a starting position. They were ready to race around the island for the first activity of the day: SCOOP Trail, a tech-based race event where participants could gain insights into the Singapore’s Co-operative movement while learning more about their social missions.
Just earlier on in the day, these passionate youths – representing 47 social enterprise teams – had just arrived in Singapore to participate in the Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) 2018 Workshop held from 21 to 24 March. This year’s participants spanned across 12 countries and territories namely Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and the United States.
Together, the youths went through a comprehensive line-up of activities curated to nurture them in starting or scaling up their social enterprises. These activities included a series of business clinics, mentorship sessions, cross-cultural peer learnings, and a fireside chat discussion themed “Block-Change: Blockchain for Social Change”.
Zenna Law, Malaysian participant and Co-founder of PinkCollar, found that the Startup Financial Essentials session conducted by UNFRAMED, a training academy that helps entrepreneurs achieve greater social impact, was one of the highlights of her Workshop experience. She shared, “I think that it is really crucial for social entrepreneurs to be equipped with sound financial understanding and tools for the sustainability of our start-ups. YSE is the only bootcamp that I have experienced so far that provided us the training in this area. This newfound knowledge is really useful and applicable as we further develop our social enterprise moving forward.”
Aminur Rasyid Mohamed Anwar, Singaporean participant and Founder of Junior Art Lab, appreciated the cross cultural insights he gained during the course of the Workshop. Having previously worked in the airline industry, Aminur was not unfamiliar to different cultures. However, as a budding social entrepreneur, he had since gained new perspectives after listening to the social issues faced by his peers in their respective countries. He shared, “I came forward to join the YSE programme because I am starting my social business mostly alone and I needed to be connected to the right network. It is encouraging to know to know that there are other like-minded youths out there who want to make a positive impact and do good. With YSE supporting aspiring social entrepreneurs like us to be part of the ecosystem, we could possibly be the future of entrepreneurship – where we make social change and also help build the economy.”
Like Zenna and Aminur, all Workshop participants were assigned to various mentors to help them shape their social business ideas. This also enabled the youths to gain access to industry experts and professionals in the social entrepreneurship scene. Ke Ma, Chinese participant and Co-founder of Touch Heart of Kids, shared, “After the four-day experience, I believe that the mentorship provided during the YSE Workshop was most beneficial for my team. Before YSE, I did not know how to properly frame and present the work of our social business. Our mentors helped to strengthen our pitching skills in many ways – including pointing out our gaps and sharing their experiences – which I believe will come in handy for future pitches to investors.”
On the final day of the Workshop, all participating teams presented their social business ideas to a designated panel of judges for the chance to advance to the next phase of the programme. The judges for this year’s Workshop included SIF Governor Mr Lian Wee Cheow, SIF Special Advisor to YSE Mr Rajan Raju, Mr Andrew Lamb, Mr Calvin Chu, Ms Divya Patel, Mr Greg Blackwood-Lee, Ms Pauline Goh, Mr Satsheel Shrotriya and Ms Stacey Choe. After a day of careful deliberation, the judges selected 16 teams who presented the strongest social business ideas. The shortlist was assessed based on the social enterprises’ feasibility, innovativeness, social impact, as well as the sustainability of their business model.
In alphabetical order, they are: Cricket One (Vietnam), Elvish (Indonesia), Everybody Eats (United States), Greennovations (India), Involve (India), Junior Art Lab (Singapore), Khemdro Dairy (Bhutan), Kon Chhlat (Cambodia), MANRAM (India), Musimpanen Indonesia (Indonesia), Pinkcollar (Malaysia), Project Paplet (Malaysia), Scan Book (Cambodia), The Kisan Union (Singapore and India), TreeDots Enterprise (Singapore), and UglyFood (Singapore). Click here for their profiles.
For the next eight months, these shortlisted teams will continue to shape and sharpen their social business ideas guided by assigned mentors and have the opportunity to learn from and interact with leading social entrepreneurs, business professionals, and youths who are keen on social innovation. The teams will reconvene in Singapore for a study visit in June, as well as for the Pitching for Change session in October where teams will pitch for an opportunity to receive seed funding of up to S$20,000 each.
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