“It has been an incredible learning experience. The YSE programme exposed me to the different aspects of running a viable social business while creating social impact. I can now tap on the know-how and networks gained from YSE as I grow my social enterprise,” said Huda Hamid, founder of Fempreneur Secrets from Singapore, an online platform aimed at creating a global network of economically independent women and empower them to start profitable businesses.
For the first time in 11 years, the latest edition of Singapore International’s (SIF) Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) 2020 Workshop pivoted to the digital space with all activities fully online. From 3 July to 29 August, 109 youths representing 19 nationalities and 54 social enterprises went through a comprehensive line-up of knowledge-sharing sessions and business clinics curated to enable them in starting or scaling up their social enterprises.
The participants also got a taste of the social enterprise scene in Singapore albeit virtually. In a session on “Introduction to the Singapore Social Enterprise Landscape”, the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE) shared insights into how Singaporean social enterprises tackle various social issues sustainably through their ventures. The participants also got to immerse in the cultural landscape and heritage of the island nation through a virtual walking tour at the Geylang districts in Singapore offered by social enterprise Citizen Adventures.
“The virtual tour of Geylang was really cool. Even though we were not physically exploring this part of the country, the visuals and stories shared by Citizen Adventures painted an intricate mental image. It was also inspiring to understand their social mission in supporting the marginalised communities there. We appreciate this opportunity to see a social enterprise from Singapore in action,” said Abdulhalim Ampuan, researcher at Philippines-based BioPhil, a social enterprise that aims to provide a clean energy alternative by transforming water hyacinths into biomass and using it as biofuel.
At the culmination of the YSE Workshop, all 54 teams pitched their refined social business ideas to a panel of judges comprising business leaders, impact investors, and entrepreneurs. Upon thorough assessment of the teams’ innovativeness, social impact, and sustainability of their business model, 15 teams made it through to the next stage of the YSE journey.
The shortlisted teams are, in alphabetical order: Aikite (Indonesia), BioPhil (Philippines), Built Empathy (India), Canfem (India), CYOT (China), Fempreneur Secrets (Singapore), Gabi (China), Grub Cycle (Malaysia), Heirloom (Singapore), International Changemaker Olympaid (India), Neurafarm (Indonesia), RUWAFIKI (Uganda and Nigeria), Safewheel (Bangladeshi), Shoonya Environmental Solutions (India), and Vianco (Philippines). View the full list of team profiles here.
For the next six months, these shortlisted teams will continue to sharpen their social business ideas guided by assigned mentors from McKinsey & Company and Temasek International, as well as established entrepreneurs relevant to their sectors. The teams will reconvene in March 2021 for the Pitching for Change session where teams will pitch for an opportunity to receive seed funding of up to S$20,000.
Victo Nabunya, Oludare Sunday Durodola, and Francess Gbolare Awunor from Ugandan-Nigerian social enterprise RUWAFIKI shared, “It is encouraging to know that there are other like-minded youths from around the world who also want to make a positive impact. The mentors and judges were also generous with sharing advice and their experiences. We are thankful to be a part of the YSE network and we look forward to what’s in store in the coming months.” RUWAKFIKI provides clean water solutions in Uganda and other parts of Africa, which includes delivering water filtration kits and organising hygiene advocacy campaigns to communities.
Since 2010, YSE has since nurtured more than 1,200 alumni across 39 nationalities, and a network of 525 social enterprises in Singapore and beyond. According to an impact study on the programme’s 10-year success (2010-2019), 86 percent of funded YSE social enterprises are still in operation today. Connect with us via hashtag #SIFYSE on Facebook and Instagram for more updates on YSE 2020!