Singapore Insights centred on the topic of Technology for Social Change involving a diverse panel of speakers. From left: Jacqueline Poh, managing director of IDA; Syakir Hashim, co-founder of Skolafund; Lucian Teo, user education and outreach specialist of Google Asia; and Larry Tchiou, founder of UNFRAMED. The session was moderated by media veteran Augustine Anthuvan.

Technological Connections for Good

We brought together a diverse panel of policy-makers, practitioners and social entrepreneurs to exchange ideas about how technology can be leveraged for social change and to connect Singapore and regional communities for a better world.

While technology plays an important role in making the world a better place, it cannot replace human interaction to foster social change. That’s why when it comes to making contributions through technology for positive impact, one needs to take heed of cultural sensitivity, says Syakir Hashim, a panellist on Singapore Insights which discussed the topic: “Technology for Social Change”.

Syakir, who is an alumnus of the Singapore International Foundation’s Young Social Entrepreneurs (SIF-YSE) programme had co-founded Skolafund, a digital platform that crowdfunds scholarships for underprivileged students to enable them to gain access to higher education. He added that “ASEAN is a fast-growing region but before we can start thinking about making contributions through technology, we need to expose our youths to the surrounding countries to understand the various cultures, languages and norms.” Held on 27 November, Singapore Insights is SIF’s series of conversations aimed at building greater understanding of our activities and way of life amongst the international community in Singapore.

Another key concern raised during the discussion, attended by more than 50 SIF alumni, partners and new friends, was the loss of human interaction at the hands of technology. Co-panellist Larry Tchiou, founder of social enterprise UNFRAMED, shared that the biggest challenge is changing the mind-set of those in the social sector who use technology as a human replacement rather than leveraging it as a tool to enhance relationships. He added that even by using technology, social changes will not materialise if one does not understand the culture of the beneficiaries.

Other speakers on the panel included Jacqueline Poh from Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and Lucian Teo from Google Asia. Lucian shared that technology is an important tool for people to make better informed decisions for social change within their own countries. Jacqueline noted that while technology needs to be designed for people within their context, we should still take the risk to innovate in order to succeed.

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