Crossing the Chasm: A student’s perspective

With rising interest in social entrepreneurship in Singapore and in the region, NUS Business School’s Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship & Philanthropy (ACSEP) has organized a unique, first-of-its-kind challenge that brings students, social enterprises and mentors together to assist those social enterprises which have been stuck at the “Chasm” – they’re too large for seed-funding and yet too small for accelerator grants or impact investors.

The inaugural Crossing the Chasm Challenge will be held on 16 September, 2016.

Social Entrepreneurship Challenge

Beginning in May this year, 13 student teams across Singapore have been shortlisted and have begun working some of Asia’s most renowned social enterprises like Kakao, SDI Academy and KitaBisa, while being mentored by some of Singapore’s top communications and business leaders.

Student teams have been given three months to put together a plan which they will be submitting at the end of August and five shortlisted teams will be presenting their ideas to an esteemed panel of judges on the 16th of September.

To get an exclusive, behind-the-scenes feel of this initiative as the finale approaches, we sat down with one of our students, Nadia Aldora, who is a group leader of one of the participating teams and working with a local social enterprise to compete in the finals:

Why did you participate in this challenge?

As a young child growing up in Indonesia, I was exposed to a myriad of social problems early-on that plague the nation – poverty, illiteracy and gender discrimination, to name a few. This exposure became the foundation of my grandiose dreams to bring justice to the society – to eradicate poverty, improve accessibility of education and to empower women through social businesses.

When I learned about the Crossing the Chasm Challenge, I saw it as an opportunity to be a part of the narrative that inches our society towards betterment. This unique competition brings together social enterprises, industry experts and students, creating a three-way partnership in face of the challenge to co-create marketing plans for our respective social enterprises.

How has the experience been? Please tell us about your team and the social enterprise you’re working with.

The experience has been nothing short of exhilarating and challenging all the same. Throughout the three months of the competition, team members and mentors call in from various countries to discuss and refine our plan. Many times, what we thought were good ideas would be met with roadblocks after roadblocks, forcing us to go back to the drawing board to come up with a winning strategy. It’s really a great learning experience.

My two other team members are Lee Geun Hey (NUS Faculty of Arts and Sciences) and Lee Geun Ju (NUS Faculty of Science). For the past three months, we have come up with a marketing plan, a pitch as well as an ongoing online campaign for Toraja Melo, that makes environmentally friendly fashion apparel and gift products from hand-woven textiles in Indonesia.

Why should one attend the finale of Crossing the Chasm on 16 September?

All the competing teams have actually looked beyond the time frame of the competition to continue working together with our respective social enterprises. Come the finals on 16th September, you will witness the brilliant work that we have all come up with, and a true labour of love. We look forward to seeing you there!

Nadia Aldora is a year two BBA student from NUS Business School. She runs her own social enterprise – ALDOR, a clothing line that employs indigenous women in Indonesia. Through this effort, she hopes to not only alleviate poverty but to also encourage more people to utilize business for social good.

To learn more about the Crossing the Chasm Challenge or to register, please click here. See you there!

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