Young Global Changemakers Inspired by Thriving Social Entrepreneurship Scene in India after YSE Mumbai Study Visit

Youths from eight countries and territories gain valuable market perspectives and cross-cultural insights to gear up for their final pitches at the Singapore International Foundation’s (SIF) Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Programme.

37 youths representing eight countries and territories from the YSE 2017 programme take a parting group shot at the iconic Gateway of India. All 16 teams will regroup in Singapore in November for an opportunity to pitch for seed funding.

As part of the Singapore International Foundation’s (SIF) Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) eight-month programme, 17 multinational teams of 37 youths convened in Mumbai, India to study the vibrant social entrepreneurial landscape in India and to build up their international networks.

The experiential itinerary, included workshops, sharing sessions, dialogues, and site visits to social enterprises, academic institutions and community locales – all aimed at enabling and equipping today’s youth to maximise the impact and viability of their own social enterprises and become effective social entrepreneurs.

The teams, which were shortlisted from YSE’s Workshop in Singapore earlier in March, had much to draw from the experiences of established social enterprises in Mumbai, such as the Bombay Hemp Company (BOHECO). BOHECO is India’s first industrial hemp company that enhances the livelihood of farmers and women artisans by working with Indian unions and state governments to reform the agriculture industry. Started in 2013, BOHECO recognised the importance of team dynamics. They shared how they successfully kickstarted and sustained their social business over the years by leveraging on the strengths and skillsets of the seven founding members of their company. One of the community locales the participants visited was Mann, which provides training and employment opportunities for individuals with special needs, with particular emphasis on community engagement as a critical factor.

Jayanth S (right), co-founder of Sampurn(e)arth, an environment solutions social enterprise, shows a sample of their home-grown biogas plants to YSE 2017 participants – demonstrating one of the various ways they manage waste effectively in Mumbai.

Nur Maulidiah Elfajr, YSE 2017 participant and co-founder of Taponesia, a social enterprise from Indonesia seeking to empower underemployed farmers and solve deforestation through a digital agroforestry platform, said: “I found the learnings from this study visit applicable to my social enterprise because both India and Indonesia have strong agricultural economies. I got to experience first-hand how the local social enterprises appreciate the value of farming community engagement and I can’t wait to apply the knowledge back home in Indonesia.”

Song Jie Tan, YSE 2017 participant and co-founder of Signs, a soft serve and crepes business in Singapore seeking to provide people who are hearing impaired or financially challenged with a livelihood, shared: “We were introduced to different mechanisms of running a social business and viewpoints on meeting community needs. These exchanges opened up our minds and inspired us to find new approaches to meet our goal of creating economic opportunities for disadvantaged communities.”

The young social entrepreneurs also got to connect with prominent Indian social entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and academics from organisations such as Ashoka India, Aavishkaar, Intellecap Network, YES BANK, Indian Institutes of Technology and TISS.

Pragya Mishra (left), Senior Intrapreneur from Ashoka India, guides YSE 2017 team Effund from Thailand on how to effectively measure the impact of their social business model during an Impact Assessment Workshop. During the Workshop, Pragya also shares an overview of the social entrepreneurship landscape in India with all 37 YSE 2017 participants from eight countries and territories.

Pragya Mishra, Senior Intrapreneur of Ashoka India, an international organisation that promotes social entrepreneurship by affiliating individual social entrepreneurs into their network, was glad for the opportunities that the YSE programme provided. She said: “It has been a wonderful experience interacting with amazing problem solvers and social entrepreneurs from all over the globe through the YSE programme.”

EN Venkat, Partner of Aavishkaar, a venture capital firm that invests in entrepreneurs building sustainable enterprises to catalyse development in India’s underserved regions was equally impressed by the youths’ energy. He said: “It’s great to see the YSEs from all over the world come to India and interact with us. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to learn more about their social business ideas and mentor them on the challenges that they are facing at this early stage of their social entrepreneurial journey.”

Enriched by their experiences, the YSE 2017 teams will continue to sharpen their business plans, guided by mentors, in the lead up to the programme’s Pitching for Change session in November this year. The teams will regroup in Singapore to pitch to a panel of judges for a chance to receive seed funding of up to S$20,000.

We wish all teams the best of luck for their final pitches. Stay tuned for more updates on our FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

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