Key stakeholders in Asia’s social enterprise sector – including social entrepreneurs, business leaders, journalists, policy makers and heads of social enterprise foundations – came together recently to share their feedback, views and discuss Singapore’s social enterprise landscape.
Organised by the School’s Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy (ACSEP), this Community Consultative Circle is a first-of-its-kind, ground-up initiative to build a collective voice, and a sequel to a study on the Landscape of Social Enterprises in Singapore launched by the Centre in early June. Conclusions from both these initiatives, part of Singapore Conversation on Social Enterprise, will be compiled in a working paper on social enterprises, and submitted to government agencies to guide policy making for social enterprises.
“This is a good opportunity to exchange views and voice your opinion when it matters,” remarked Carrie Tan, a social entrepreneur and Chief Livelihood Advocate of Daughters of Tomorrow, about the discussion. “We need to change public perception of social enterprises here in Singapore, and increase awareness about the tremendous opportunities that this sector provides,” she added.
Participants ranging from founders of leading social enterprises such as World Toilet Organisation, SE Hub, Como Foundation and Empact, to representatives from National Youth Council, National Council of Social Service, and Singapore International Foundation, discussed a range of issues, including defining social enterprises, its common characteristics as well as the most pressing issues and challenges for social enterprises today.
“Social enterprises have gained visibility over the last five years, yet there is little consensus – even among their most ardent supporters – on what a social enterprise really is,” said Associate Professor Lam Swee Sum, Director of ACSEP. “The public needs to better understand what these organisations are and how different they are from charities or traditional corporations. Therefore, we initiated the Singapore Conversation on Social Enterprises to bring everyone who is interested in the sector into this discourse on the opportunities and challenges going forward.”