Singapore has one of the highest living standards in the world but there are still groups of disadvantaged Singaporeans who may need extra help to become self-reliant.
In recent years, commerce has been fast gaining ground as a way to promote positive social change. Social start-ups are championing business models that improve the living standards of the under-privileged and drive sustainable social impact. Some, like BBA graduate Andrea Ong who created HushTeaBar, also aim to create fair employment opportunities. New initiatives, like a one-stop resource centre are planned to provide social enterprises with mentoring resources, funding, networking and consultancy.
How can social enterprises pave way for new and novel solutions to address the myriad unmet social needs facing the world today? How can we create an ecosystem where they can sustain, thrive, and scale up? The International Symposium on Social Entrepreneurship 2015 held on 22 May 2015 by the School’s Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship & Philanthropy (ACSEP) brought together academics and practitioners for a lively discussion on these challenges, as well as the current trends, the regulation of the industry and different models of social enterprise.
Keynote speaker Mark Sidel kicked off the session with an analysis of different approaches to regulation of social enterprises. The plenary sessions included speakers such as Matthew Spacie, Founder and Executive Chairman of Magic Bus, India, a social initiative that brings education, mentorship and the hope of a better life to 250,000 children in India; and Sasa Vucinic, co-founder of crowdfunding portal, IndieVoices, which raises funds to help various media projects in 26 countries of the developing world. Case studies, such as SK Happy Narae – the largest social enterprise in South Korea – were analysed to learn about cross-national challenges facing social enterprises.
Maintaining the balance between profitability and creating social impact is a tall order. However, creating an atmosphere of lively exchange and promoting education in social entrepreneurship by way of such events is one way of advancing understanding in the field and enabling social entrepreneurs to take their business to the next level.
For more on the School’s social entrepreneurship initiatives, click here.