Sunday, December 18, 2011

Generation Y is Born to Start up

Read this great article!

The constant growth of technological capabilities have equipped all of us with the ability to create start-ups at much lower costs.

We are at a new age of how we communicate, make our purchases and socialize. Thus, put away the old assumptions and carefully consider how technology and the change in life-style can be fully leveraged to optimize your businesses, and also have the foresight to consider how all these assumptions will again change in 1-2 years time.

If you are an entrepreneur, stop looking at targeted consumer markets just within the boundaries of your own country or town. From the very first day of your start-up, constantly seek to build your business with the vision/direction to expand your businesses beyond national boundaries. The old costs assumptions and risks of globalized businesses are becoming less of a limitation, due to our aligning sub-cultures, various online sales and marketing platforms, and communication tools that provides us the opportunity to build much more versatile business models.

In addition, rapid evolution of technological innovations, have increasingly made me realize that although developing strategic plans and financial projections does help entrepreneurs look at the directions the start-up should take in the long-run, such plans and projections are increasingly irrelevant if they are to be used to predict what the company will become in 3-5years times. Particularly since the assumptions used to make such plans are constantly changing, and whats worst is the increasing rate of such changes.

Hence, the reason why Steve Jobs and many other innovators have been experiencing greater successes in these times. It is due to their drive and courage to innovate and develop new products that appeals to constantly changing consumer needs, that allows them to be that many steps ahead of their competitors.

Conclusively, it is critically important for entrepreneurs and business leaders of all generations, to pay close attention to how current technologies may be exploited to enable a competitive edge over your competitors, and have the drive and foresight to understand the rapid and ever-changing business environment, resultant from shifts in technological innovations.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Conclusive Sentiments of the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum

Hi fellow mentors and friends

I am humbly thankful for being provided the opportunity to travel to Paris just last week to attend the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum as one of the two Singaporean delegates.

I sincerely believe that it was only with the support and opportunities from YOU, provided throughout different phases of life that provided me the profile to clinch the spot, to represent Singapore to stand among 210 youth delegates representing 127 Member States.

Hence, I would like to share this report which we have prepared, of which will be presented by our elected youth representatives from Finland and Canada, to have the proposal discussed as an agenda item in the UNESCO General Forum held this week. Leaders from all member states will be attending to jointly discuss various social issues as priorities to address within the 2 years to come, and invest in resources to tackle them with the development and implementation of policies within their own countries.

Despite the fact that I was just one of the 210 delegates and that our proposal may or may not be of any significant influence to any consensus the leaders may form, I am truly delighted to be given this opportunity to even have this opportunity to potentially create an impact throughout the world.

This is the very first time, UNESCO have given the youths, this opportunity to present the proposal, prepared and presented by Youths, to represent the voice of Youths from 127 member states. This is also the very first time that I felt that my voice, no matter how small, have contributed to a unified voice that has essentially reached out to all the leaders from the various political leaders of the various UNESCO member states.

Therefore, I am encouraged and have been equipped with the confident to tell all the youths of our country; 
"Youths, Do not fear to dream about a better world!
Do not fear that your voice will not be heard!
Do not fear that your actions will not make a difference!

Believe in yourself, Believe in your cause!
Reach out and achieve the change you want to see!
Be the change you want to see!
For if you don't,
Who will?"

To all my friends and mentors, Thank You!

You are also a simply awesome change-maker! 
I thank God that I got to know you, and I sincerely hope that you will continuously believe and strive to achieve your dreams for a better world!

Link to reports:

7th UNESCO Youth Forum Day 3

Education should be recognized as a basic human right.

“All youths should have access to education through non-discriminatory channels that does not privilege any particular community.”

This was a strong sentiment, particularly felt by most of the ASEAN delegates. As it was realized after some exchanges, that language barriers were often the main limitations that prevents educational programs developed in one country to be effectively and efficiently imported into another.
To address this concern, I presented the opinion during the education debate, that all youths should be equipped with a common language (Such as English), so that they may benefit from cross-boundaries educational resources that can be increasingly found online. Many passionate change-makers have recently utilize innovative ways of presenting educational tools on web sources, such as uploading of tutoring videos on YouTube as a free source for teaching Math, Sciences or even instructions in utilizing different software programs such as Photoshop, Excel and many others. Thus, if a common language is taught in all countries, particularly in rural areas, then everyone in pursuit of education may have equal access to such resources.

Beside this issue, many others were discussed, such as:

  1. More opportunity for self-employment or employment in general.
It was at this debate that I learnt the difficulties of incorporating a start-up in many other countries. Unlike Singapore, where incorporation is just a few clicks, a few days of waiting and $300-$600 application fee away from owning your own business, many countries requires encumbering documentation requirements and many other restrictions. As such, for a economy to benefit from job creations as a result of entrepreneurship, process for incorporation needs to be improved, so that everyone will have equal opportunities to set-up their own enterprises.

Entrepreneurship provides benefits of new innovations, more jobs and the solving of community problems through innovative or creative means. Nevertheless, an entrepreneurship culture needs to be nurtured and created. It cannot be bought or simply built within just a few years as there are multiple factors to develop before the whole system become self-sustaining and thriving. Hence, as a start, we need to allow wide-spread communities to have equal access to the opportunities of entrepreneurship, and that youths are taught from young (Even when they are just children), to be able to think creatively and innovatively, and at much larger scale and ambition.

It is incorrect to assume that the poor, uneducated, or in anyway disadvantaged individuals, cannot become entrepreneurs. It is in fact, often observed from various micro-finance projects and social initiatives which I have came across, that the desire, hunger and drive to become financially independent is much greater in these communities, than the educated community in Singapore. All it really takes are the empowerment of these individuals with the confidence in their own abilities and self-esteem, and equip them with additional skills and support, so to enable them to achieve entrepreneurial successes.

  1. Desire for innovation
As discussed on the importance of entrepreneurship, a creative and innovative culture is often found necessary for society as a whole to continuously seek improvements in much aspect of our lives. From the way we do think to the way we cook/eat, from the way we play to the way we study, from the way we travel to the way we communicate with one another, innovation has increasingly found much more efficient and effective ways of doing the same things.

These attitudes and skills can also be transferred to solving social problems. Through comprehension on problems, ideation, rapid prototyping, and constant evaluations, solutions can be designed to innovatively solve the problems of the world.

Therefore, all government, VWOS, NGOs, private companies, and individuals should take steps to explore such areas of innovation and entrepreneurship to collectively solve the social issues we see around us.

  1. Broad base curriculum
With increasingly uncertainty in the world, due to rapidly changing demands and needs of the market, youths are increasingly finding difficulty in being equipped with relevant skills and expertise that are demanded in the job market.

This is perhaps contradictory to the powers of innovation and globalization, as they have created an increasingly competitive and rapidly evolving society. However, as discussed, such progress is useful and I would suggest, perhaps even needed, particularly in the solving of various social problems which persistently exist in our society.

To counteract these negative trends, youths and children should be equipped with both soft-skills and different technical-skills/expertise. This enables them to be equipped with a broad base of expertise, and the soft-skills that are transferrable from one industry to another.

In addition, youths and children should increasingly be taught “How to learn”, rather than “What to learn”, so that they become adaptable and versatile value-added members of society.

  1. Practicality of education and Early Internship opportunities
As the world rapidly evolves, practicality of education is important, so to ensure that youths learn what is actually “useful” when they graduate from school.

This can be enabled by facilitating early internship opportunities or encourage youths to explore the market needs by themselves, and help them facilitate adequate decision-making on what fields of expertise to acquire.

The benefits of early internship opportunities will also present mentorship opportunities to those youths who find the chance to build relationships with seniors in the industry, and benefit from their guidance and coaching of practical skills, rather than simply learning from the books.

Many other issues which existed in other countries were also learnt during this forum. To prevent the report from being too extensive, I would simply summarize these lessons into the pointers listed below:

  1. Key challenges of youth employment
    1. Lack of internship opportunities in all fields of work; Including political positions in some countries
    2. Not every school in the world teaches entrepreneurship
    3. Networking opportunities are found lacking in some countries
    4. Incentive for youth employment may perhaps be needed; Especially in welfare states
    5. Capacity building is required
  1. Proposed ideas to help tackle youth unemployment
    1. Consistent training and growth opportunities in companies
    2. Train and integrate youths into the senior workforce
    3. Provide equal advantages and opportunities to all communities (Particularly to vulnerable youths – which includes youth-at-risk, physically handi-cappable, etc)
    4. Use of technology and access to technology in rural education
    5. Basic literacy skills, character building (Life-skills) and financial literacy to be taught to everyone!
    6. For urban communities; Funding from government and community support, to encourage youths to travel to less advantageous societies, to transfer knowledge and skills (English, Financial literacy and civil/community literacy)
    7. Counseling and mentorship programs

  2.  Response from panelist
    1. Education, computer literacy and financial literacy should be brought online
    2. We should be job creators rather than job seekers
    3. Countries to implement second chance programs
    4. Increase relevance of education
    5. Act with governments to enhance technical training
    6. Ensure that all youths’ voices are heard
    7. Importance of non-formal education
    8. Teachers needs to be selected and trained

    1. Conclusive statements by the panelist
      1. We need to understand the society around the world, to be able to create an impact.
      2. We need to first change ourselves, and then be engaged in change. Know yourself, then know the world.
      3. Take action though
                                                                  i.      Consumer choices – Your purchase options are votes to which organization should continue to exist
                                                                ii.      Promote ethical values and behaviors
                                                              iii.      Build relationships with others; learn to empathize
      1. How to change the education system?
                                                                  i.      First, define the world and the vision you will like to see
                                                                ii.      Next, enable youths to be more active in acquiring knowledge

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    7th UNESCO Youth Forum Day 2

    I apologize for any language error committed on this blog post, as I was writing these blogs immediately after each day of the conference, doing it until 2am for this particular post. Hence, I seek your humble understandings on any mistakes I've made on this post.

    A. Opening Address Speaker: Mr David L. Hepburn, President of the UNESCO General Conference

    David was extremely encouraging in the potentials youths have in creating the change they want to see.
    He stated that all governments should:

    1. Recognize that youths have the talents, competence, and ideas to create real change
    2. Encourage and equip youths to take action
    3. Recognize that change is only constant. Do not be afraid to support youth causes.

    In addition, youths should:
    1. Never again accept “No” as a response to drive change
    2. Never fear to make your voices heard

    A personal reflection of mine would be, how many adults often say that youths lack the experience to 
    “Change the world”. That we should take this and that steps before we can ever think that we are wise enough to do so.

    I do agree that youths lack the experience required to make wise and perhaps truly practical decisions. But we should recognize the facts that:
    1. Youths are increasingly well connected, and hence more influential.
    2. Youths are courageous, have great energy and are not limited to mental obstacles that prevents us from seeing hope and optimism in various issues in life
    3. Youths creates change with the sincere intention to bring benefit to society rather than for selfish gains

    Therefore rather than rejecting the various ideas of youths and suppressing the voices of youths, the government should instead teach youths:
    1. The best/most effective ways to get themselves heard
    2. Non-violent ways (Not necessary non-disruptive ways) of voicing their stands
    3. Skills and competence to become effective change-makers
    4. Becoming positive leaders of change
    5. Ways to acquire objective information

    And to encourage youths to:
    1. Dream Big
    2. Be Faithful
    3. Take Action
    4. Be the Change they Want

    As shared by Ms Irina Bkova, UNESCO Director-General. As Matin Luther King said, “I have a dream!” Live your dream, this is the way you can change the world. Her emphasis was on the possibility of creating change, when we are really passionate and take active actions in doing so.

    Mr Miguel Angel Carreon Sanchez reinforced the message by telling us that change starts from us. It is from being really disciplined in all the little things that are seemingly important to us, that we learn to accomplish BIG things which are important to others

    B. The “legacy” of the International Year of Youth and the results of the high level meeting on youths

    Among many speakers, Ms Nicola Shepherd provided many insightful ideas which the government can act take on:
    1. Need to invest in youths – Education, training , employment, healthcare
    2. Build partnerships with youths
    3. Full participation of youths in decision-making
    4. For full participation to become successful, youth development challenges must be addressed
    5. Monitor and evaluate government’s impact on youths

    Maria Kyprioton , Section for Youth, Sport & Physical education, Social and Human science sector UNESCO, wrapped up the morning discussion by placing emphasized on:
    - Gender equality
    - Conflict settings
    - Vulnerable groups

    C. How Youth Drives Change, Main Thematic Plenary

    Among the other speakers, Prof Gunter Faltin, Free University of Berlin, Germany, made the deepest impression.

    He introduced the new concept of social entrepreneurship with facts on a tea business which became profitable and more successful than even some of the other more popular brands.

    He said that it is definitely possible to provide higher quality products, at lower price, fairly traded and environmental conservational factors in a business, and still succeed if the idea is great. In fact, all enterprises should strive to become socially responsible in the products they sell, how they treat their employees, and their general conduct of the business, etc.

    I personal believe that more support, recognition and encouragement should be made by the government and companies of the private sectors (Both in Singapore and the world), so to promote and encourage social entrepreneurship.

    Social Entrepreneurship is about identifying a social problem, and then develops innovations and a sustainable business model to solve that problem.

    Its potential in creating rapid and wide spread change cannot be underestimated as it is less tied up with 
    bureaucracy, relies on the normal operations of the market rather than the government, natural selection process of the best parties to lead the particular area of change, etc.

    It is surprising how advance is Singapore in foremost setting a definition of Social Entrepreneurship in the community (And hence the setting of certain tangible measures and standards), to build the community of Social Entrepreneurs and provide various funding and mentorship sources to encourage social entrepreneurship. Therefore, I believe that our sophistication and best practice in this area is definitely a valuable contribution to the international scene.

    Nevertheless, Singapore should step up its efforts in educating its citizens of the ideas and definition of social entrepreneurship, as well as clear out any wrongful assumptions of what social entrepreneurships are or are not.

    From Ruth Jones the executive director of Social Venture Partner International (Through a personal meeting in the past), “It is a fallacy that all non-profits should become social enterprises! As we cannot deny that certain organizations could/should be best carried in the form of professionally ran non-profit organizations.

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    7th UNESCO Youth Forum Day 1

    The 7th UNESCO Youth Forum sparked off with the entire first day, dedicated to providing a fundamental introduction and training of the dedicates on social issues, conflict resolution techniques and introductions of many social initiatives, so to provide better context into the various issues which we will be discussed and debated in the days to come.


    We started off with having an introduction by Irina Bokova, Director-general of the UNESCO and Forest Whitaker, a famous actor, to provide an introduction into what are some of the objectives of UNESCO.

    Some of the major points I picked up includes, the importance of:
    1. Transforming thoughts into actions
    2. Building peace through community building
    3. Putting education into practise
    4. Connect and incubate intentions

    It was also highlighted that we define our purpose clearly, and to define our purpose of the UNESCO Youth Forum together.

    Conflict Resolution Workshop

    1. Forest Whitaker, actor
    2. Aldul
    3. Rajshree Patel

    Some misconceptions about peace were shared by Aldul (I do sincerely apologise for misspelling of any names), that due to the lack of resources, we often end up thinking that peace is impractical, cannot be controlled nor achieved and are all reliant on external factors of influence.

    However, “Peace” is really a choice. It is about the choice to build “relationships” which begins with yourself.

    Rajshree took over by emphasizing that we can build relationships by building linkages. This is done by caring enough to listen, feel and understand one another.
    Peace is not just about reduction of Ultra Vires. It is also about equality and harmony.

    Forest came back again to give a great summary; that it is the illusion of separateness that keep us from coming together to build peace. And if separateness is removed, it is impossible to harm one another.

    There were a lot more sharing and exercises from the different speakers, but one of the most interesting exercise; was the speakers facilitation of words which describes conflicts, and then words to describe peace, so to communicate the emotions and picture of what conflict/peace looks like.

    The conclusive lessons are the 4 factors in resolving inter-group conflicts:
    1. Be impeccable with your word (Words creates reality)
    2. Don’s take anything personally
    3. Don’t make assumptions
    4. Always do your best!

    Social Media Communication

    Pros: More reliability, community inputs rather than institutional inputs
    Cons: Skewed stories presented only by people which you are connected to

    Various functions, potentials and dangers of social medias were discussed, but I will only share the key pointers of interest.

    a. Why Social Media?
    Because it gets noticed!  

    Whether it influences someone else or leads to a change in a person’s behavior, it is of another story.

    b. Issues in Digital Social Media
    - Exploitation of children rights in communication collateral
    - We should share more facts than just opinions
    - Beware of who will be viewing your post, and for what purpose
    - Think about broader issues and use them to influence online sentiments

    Leadership Training
    Not of significance.

    IDB Youth Steps to Creating Young Change-makers

    IDB creates change by providing youths with connections to entrepreneurship, volunteerism, technology and resources.

    These are the 6 step procedure for creating a change agent:
    1. Become acquitted with your reality
    2. Imagine a better world
    3. Find your space to take action
    4. Get a group together
    5. Establish an action plan and execute it
    6. Reflect upon and evaluate the impact (Back to 1)

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Define: Social Entrepreneurship

    Hi all

    I am really privileged to be selected by UNESCO, to represent Singapore in the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum, and will be sharing Singaporean views on various social issues surrounding the youths at Paris next week.

    During one of the many discussion online prior to the actual event itself, I was motivated to share with the other delegate, clear and concise information defining social entrepreneurship, obtained from the Singapore's SE Association (SEA) website, and I will like to share it with you all.

    Taken from:

    Social enterprises are, first and foremost, businesses. The term refers to any non-profit, for-profit or hybrid corporate form that utilises market-based strategies to advance a social cause. Like any other business, it aims to create surpluses, but seeks to reinvest those surpluses to achieve its social objectives. Social enterprises are not businesses driven by a need to maximise profit for their shareholders or owners. 

    The social needs addressed by social enterprises and the business models used can be extremely diverse (such as environmental, social issues and healthcare etc). Social enterprises can be said to pursue double or even triple bottom lines, implying that beyond financial outcomes, they also seek to accomplish their intended social and/or environmental cause(s).

    From the report of the Social Enterprise Committee published in 2007, there are four broad models of social enterprise that we can find in Singapore today, although this is not an exhaustive taxonomy of the complex and varied ways in which social enterprise can be conducted.


    Business Model


    Plough-back-profit Model
    The objective of these social enterprises is to generate profit to fund the social programmes of their affiliated or parent charities. This helps VWOs or charities reduce their reliance on donations and enhance their financial sustainability.
    Subsidised Services Model
    These social enterprises provide subsidised services to needy and/or disadvantaged clients, and charge commercial rates to mainstream customers. This ensures that the people who could not usually afford certain services have access to such services to improve their quality of life.
    Work Integration Model
    The Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISEs) provide skills training and/or employment opportunities to the needy disadvantaged (i.e. those who have higher than usual barriers to employment, such as ex-offenders) as a means to reintegrate them into society and encourage them to be self-reliant. They give an opportunity to people who may not find employment on the open market.
    Social Needs Model
    These social enterprises are designed to serve society's social needs or address certain social issues. These issues can include community bonding, family bonding and racial harmony.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Advice for entrepreneurs.

    Hi all!

    Just wish to share this 47-minute talk, in 8 parts. Lessons learned from starting, building, and selling CD Baby.

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    Dialogue with Mr Lee Kuan Yew 5th Sep 2011

    These are some of the questions and responses fielded at the Dialogue with Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Ex-Senior Minister Mentor. And my additional reflections in Blue.
    1. Please note that these are notes I have taken from his response, and hence may not be the exact wordings that came from him.
    2. Statistics provided in this blog post may have been incorrectly quoted

    What is your advise to the idealistic youths of our country, on their aspirations to change the world?
    First of all no body can change the world. Not even the president of USA can do anything about usa's prevalent debt problens. It's important for us to simply start with looking at how we can influence our own family and friends, then if we do well, look at expanding our influential ability towards the people living around us. And if we are really outstanding, then explore influencing people on a national or international level.

    It would be logically to expect that in most circumstance, the amount of influence we wish to exert is often restricted by the resources and powers we possess. Nevertheless, I believe that if like-minded and passionate people come together and pull their resources and powers, then much more can be achieved than we ever imagine!
    You do not have to be alone to become a positive social change-maker.

    As long as you remain faithful to your cause, I am confident that you will sooner or later find the people you were looking for.

    What will your worry be for the next generation to come for Singapore?
    The lost of a solidarity society and political system, and to have the best people take the best jobs. We'll have to ensure that our meritocratic society is maintained.

    Currently almost half of the Singapore population are graduates from a tertiary institution. Hence, even if you are a graduate it doesn't mean you are the best. Only if you have the drive and real competence, then you can achieve the same success as what the 5-6% of our top graduates of the past have achieved. Hence, even if you're a graduate do not over value yourself. Do not demand the pay the past elites once attained, be humble and place greater emphasis on learning, rather than on monetary gains.

    How can we build a more cohesive society in years to come as we see even more immigrants coming to Singapore?
    I've bad news for you. The shrinking aging population requires us to invite more immigrants in order to fill the gaps. We currently only have a 1.01 birth rate, which is of severe shortage to tackle the problems resultant of an aging population.

    To take in the number of immigrants politically acceptable of 25000 per year, we'll only have a replacement rate of 1.8. Which means that we'll still be suffering from an aging population which we have to prepare for.

    Will a strong political approach still work in the new generation?
    No. the growing diversity of our educated population has created a highly segmented society, of which policies and political leaders have to attempt to appeal to the different segments. Although no policies will be able to ever satisfy all societal segments.

    What's Singapore's plan for our food security?
    There is no doubt that we can not go back to agriculture. Hence, we can only ensure that our GDPS growth is greater than the rise in food prices. There are technological solutions to grow food, however its a question of whether we can pay for them. If we have money, we live. If not, we die.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    September 11; A reminder of religious and racial tolerance

    A call from our friends in US, to again post this video:
    So to remind us at the importance of religious and racial tolerance.

    With the passing of the 10th Anniversary of 911, let us come together not to scorn or wrongfully discriminate against those religions or races which seems to have done us harm, but be reminded that these generalizations and prejudice will only create social discord and disharmony.

    The solution to ending violence is not with MORE violence! It is only through the courage to withhold and control our natural emotional responses, and apply wisdom to see the truth behind the deceptions of the devil, that we be able to understand the hate and cycle of violence which true terrorists wish to create.

    Only then, can we resist the temptation to retaliate, and learn to understand the root causes of problems surrounding us so to develop peaceful and amicable solutions to these problems.

    We as rational and compassionate human beings are capable of empathy, grace and love.

    Let us be reminded, that long-term peace can be achieved, if every being seek to practice empathy, grace and love for one another, despite all our differences.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Nothing ventured, Nothing gained.

    A must watch! You will not regret it. :)

    Fear of the unknown, prevents us from stepping out of our comfort zone to make the effort to understand those who we thought we understand.

    I think if we think deeper, this video can also apply to the new experiences, adventures and lessons which we are always so afraid to venture into.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011

    Have been Busy, A lesson on humility

    Hi all

    Apologies for not updating my blog till now.

    I've been busy with recruiting new freshmen for SIFE so that we will have a greater pool of talents to nurture into social entrepreneurs!

    I will be posting some sharing from the Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum soon.

    Nevertheless, I hope to share this verse which reminded me to be humble in my conduct.

    Romans 12:3 For by grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

    Personal remarks: We are all by grace given our differing gifts to play roles which God has prepared for us. Hence let us care, not to be prideful of our accomplishments or positions attained, but be wise to give God the glory and thank Him for His blessings.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    Human rights for everyone!

    Dear folks

    Though I am a Singaporean, and am not an American. Nevertheless, I believe that the following video draws much similarity and attention to the growing racial/immigrant intolerance happening in Singapore.

    It was a video which some friends in America, requested me to share:
    I hope that my little efforts here, will reach out to those who care about these matters, and will do their part in it.

    To my fellow Singaporeans,

    I do too feel the threat (many of us feel) from having an influx of foreign talents coming into Singapore.
    I do too disagree with the government's action of freely opening the flood-gates, showing little consideration of how it affects the rising cost of livelihood in Singapore or causing many locals to lose their jobs to foreigners. However, we have to realize that many of such policies do allow other fellow human beings with the hunger for survival and willingness to labor, the hope that they will find better living standards and opportunities in Singapore.
    If you were to witness the poverty and level of corruption that exist in developing countries, I would believe that the graciousness of Singaporeans, will definitely be more accepting and loving of these individuals who strive all their lives to seek out a better place to live in.

    Lets us stop being hypocrites; put down our hatred or resentments, and focus on doing our own part to make Singapore a better place. If we want a job that badly, let us learn to be hungrier, and more hard working than others. Let us place emphasis on self-improvement, personal growth and constantly pursue excellence, rather than taking the easy way out by complaining or whining about our own misfortunes.

    The facts is that if we are really suffering as badly as we think, we will never be able to enjoy the comfort of high-tech toys (ipads, itouches, etc), or go on a holiday once a year, or the opportunity for our kids to attend schools at highly discounted rates. Ask any of your friends living in developing countries, and you will find out that all these comforts do not exist (Unless they are born in wealthy families which comprise of less than 10% of their entire population).
    And yet, the greed for money and comfort will never be enough. And our fear of losing them, tempt us to complain and resent those who threaten us.

    I do not question the fact that urban poverty does exist in Singapore (In fact Envisage is in the forefront of creating the awareness in Singapore).
    However, before we take quick and easy steps of complaining and voicing out our rights, let me encourage all of us, to first ask ourselves if we have done our part to help the disadvantaged communities in Singapore.
    Or are we simply using them as excuses or examples to justify our resentment for the growing influx of foreign talents?

    Friday, July 29, 2011

    Rotary Youth Social Enterprise Challenge 2011 is HERE!

    Hello there!

    Do Business. Save the world. All in a day's work?

    If you have an idea how you could potentially 'do well while doing good', or if you already are working to get something off the ground and would like to get additional support and access to a whole ecosystem of like-minded individuals, come join the Rotary Youth Social Entrepreneurship Challenge 2011 (RYSEC).    

    Our aim is to provide a platform for young individuals youth to discuss their exciting and refreshing business ideas, that not only make a profit but also tackle existing social challenges. This competition is in its 3rd year, and a number of alumni have successfully launched (and expanded) their ideas!! 

    There will be 2 levels of competition, and candidates may apply to any of the following categories:
    1. Idea Launchpad
    For teams who are relatively new to the concept of 'Social Enterprise', and who have a social business idea and are looking to test it.

    2. Project Accelerator 
    For teams with a mature/in-implementation business concept, and who are looking to meet people and develop networks to bring the idea one notch higher.

    The winners of each category will receive prize money , a valuable feedback from  the local and regional Social Enterprise entrepreneurial network, as well as the opportunity to attend workshops conducted by Social entrepreneurs in the region.

    You can find out more info on our past winners and plans for this year in the attached slide deck. 

    Here is the timeline of upcoming events:
    • Aug 6     - Introductory workshop for individuals new to Social Enterprise, with an idea brewing in their minds
    • Aug 13   - Advanced workshop for individuals who are already working on their ideas, with experienced mentors available for guidance 
    • Aug 27   - Deadline for submissions
    • Sep 18   - Winners declared at award ceremony
    • Mid-Oct  - Winners go to Philippines
    Stay tuned, as we will be sending out more information very soon!

    For updates:

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    Envisage on Singapore Business Times

    Dear fellow mentors and supporters of Envisage

    As an attempt to publicize Envisage Social Education, I was able to solicit the help of NTU's Nanyang Business School's Corporate Communication department to help us clinch a paper space on Business Times. 
    On a side note, the polytechnic that I mentioned in the papers, was verbalized as Ngee Ann Polytechnic, but was regretfully excluded by the reporter.

    We thank you for your ever appreciated support and guidance, without which we would have never been achieve such progress!

    To keep track of our progress, you may refer to!

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Social Return of Investment (SROI) Seminar

    This is just some pointers I found useful from the SROI seminar conducted by Jeremy, from the ROI Network and FRC group director.

    SROI is in actual fact a tool for the accounting for value; specifically the value created for positive social change.
    It involves the measurement of a specific value created, based on a set of assumptions and matrices .

    However, it is often difficult to determine what form of measurements will provide reasonably accurate results. And the following are the challenges that the people in the field often face:
    1. Social investment is still just a drop in the ocean, compared to global financial/business investments;
    Hence the lack of funding and resources supporting this field of research
    2. Possibility of producing conflicting results with the use of different matrices;
    The scientific judgement of whether an impact is good or bad, often crosses moral/ethical issues that may produce different conclusions
    3. Identifying the real questions we should be asking; The extent of a measurement, the reasonableness or significance of a measurement or the cost-effectiveness of it, etc

    What should be improved?
    A. More consistency
    Despite the challenges highlighted, it is rather clear that much more consistency should be seen. However, due to complexity of differing social business/enterprises from one to another, the consistency should be applied on principles instead of matrices.

    B. Measurement of Value as seen from the stakeholders (The right questions to ask)
    1. Identification of the stakeholders
    2. Analyzing the benefits which they derive and what to measure
    3. Valuation methodology of the change observed
    4. Amount of positive and negative change observed
    5. Materiality and judgement involved
    6. Bench-marking the data against a scenario which would have happened anyway

    C. Utilize forecast of value you can create with reasonable assumptions
    Similar to the financial impact a business can create, a social enterprises should forecast the potential social impact it can create based on the strategies and plans set forth. This is to help social entrepreneurs provide a goal/target, while also enable them to communicate the enterprise's potential o relevant stakeholders.

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    A Vision that Inspires

    The vision of an entrepreneur is critical for any start up to succeed. By envisioning the possibilities, feasibilities and greatness of the idea/technology/product/purpose, we can inspire others to follow and make the impossible, possible.

    An entrepreneur sees what others don’t see, that’s why they take risks in travelling down paths which many dare not travel. Their faith and believes drives them to build enterprises which aggressively seeks out service gaps in the market or to bring us innovations which were never thought possible.

    I find the following quote most inspiring,

    “A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplating it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” 
    -          Antonie de Saint-Exupery, the author of The Little Prince

    Just like the simple rock pile, an idea ceases to be a simple idea the moment someone envisions that it can be of great value.

    The purpose of the vision is to set the grand direction which the organization should take. When done correctly, it has the power to motivate, inspire and highlight the core purpose of the organization.

    Especially for enterprises in their early start up stage, where many uncertainties surround the enterprise, it is crucial for all members to have aligned vision and be constantly reminded of it.

    Therefore, be positive and optimistic when setting your vision. For it is a great tool at times of difficulties, in reminding us of the initial purpose, ideas and dreams we had. 

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum @ Singapore

    For more information visit:

    The Junior World Entrepreneurship forum is a global association of students aimed at supporting the mission of the World Entrepreneurship Forum which is to create wealth and social justice through entrepreneurship. The community acts as a global think-tank preparing an entrepreneurial world, creating wealth and social justice through 4 key levers:
    ·        Preparing the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs
    ·        From Innovation to Business Success
    ·        Best Cities for Entrepreneurship
    ·        Empowering Entrepreneurs at the Base of the Pyramid

    The Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum 2011 aims to gather entrepreneurs and youths together to share their vision, finding, ideas and recommendation on current global issues. This event will consist of a seminar and a networking cum discussion session, which facilitates the transfer of knowledge from industry professional to student participants and develop entrepreneurial skills in the youths. The theme for this year is “Entrepreneurship, a driver for technology and innovation”.

    It will be held from the 25th to 28th of July 2011 (Public Seminars: 10am to 1pm), and hosted by different tertiary institutions each day.

    For more information and to sign up for the JWEF Public Seminars, click on the following links:

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    Five Reasons Why Your Mission Statement Probably Stinks

    Just an interesting article to share:
    (Five Reasons Why Your Mission Statement Probably Stinks)

    I really apologize for having my posts coming in so late. There can be no good reason for not sharing on a regular basis. 
    But if you would allow me to provide one, I was really busy with SIFE nationals and reservist (National service) afterwards.

    Just got back on track with work!

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Envisage on SG Entrepreneur!

    Youths Experience Poverty In Envisage Simulations
    June 6, 2011 by Gwendolyn Regina T  

    Most of you reading this wouldn’t consider your family or yourself “poor”. Sure, you may be a struggling entrepreneur but your experiences are still probably very different from those of whom society terms as “low income families”.Envisage Social Education aims to bridge this knowledge gap.
    Envisage was founded by a team of five in Singapore based on a Poverty Simulation Kit from the US. It is a comprehensive program where participants will role-play various characters, in which students have the opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of the less fortunate and in turn develop a greater application of their family, education and financial literacy.
    Envisage was set up as an educational enterprise committed to youths’ holistic development by striving to promote empathy and compassion among youths to better prepare them for their ever-changing lives. Envisage aims to be the leading entity in working hand in hand with schools and various others partner organizations to sustainably empower youths.
    Here, we are given a chance to talk more about it with Stanley Chia, Managing Director of Envisage.
    Discussion During The Programmes @ U-Trust-Us National Bank
    What is your background?
    I am an accounting student from NTU, however, having realized the service gap in our society of having program that help students realize the importance of empathy in the rise of service learning programs, I took a sabbatical to focus on building sustainable business model for Envisage so to develop Envisage into a sustainable Social Enterprise.
    Through my active involvement in NTU-SIFE, SingYouth hub, Design for Change and other social initiatives, I utilized the experiences and networks formed to build the internal capacity of Envisage, as well as form strategic partnership with various partner organizations so to rapidly develop product offerings and market reach.
    How did you come upon this idea?
    I first came across the program through my participation in NTU-SIFE, under the program named Eye Empathy, aimed to educate high school students the importance of financial literacy through empathy for the poor.
    It was then that I realized the potential of the program in its ability to engage students to realize the importance of financial literacy. As opposed to teaching them through dull presentation slides, the simulation program allowed students to learn through role-play. This experiential learning program was much more engaging and effective in communicating the learning points we hope to achieve.
    Subsequently, we were introduced to Mr Lee Kah Howe, the CEO of ST Consultancy, who brought the program back from the United States of America, and partnered with NTU-SIFE which actively marketed the program to various schools.
    It was then when I was invited to build a more sustainable business model around the product, so to enable more rapid and extensive market reach.
    Therefore, since October 2010, a team of 5 have been working endlessly in commercializing the product. Moving beyond the Poverty Simulation product, Envisage Social Education Limited have been working endlessly to improve our business model, developing other simulation products and actively expanding our market reach.
    Participants Briefing Before The Session
    How are you developing a sustainable business model?
    I believe that it is of grave importance to focus on building a sustainable business model for any social enterprise at the early stage of the business. From the conducting of effective market research on business viability, to scenario analysis of the business finances these are crucial initial steps to study the SWOT of a business.
    Specifically, for an education program provider, the building of a strong track record and flexibility to customers needs are key importance in capturing customers who are willing to pay for your services.
    It is critically important to discover through research and experiment, which are the paying customers and how much they value your services.
    In the short-run, the building of strategic partners to enhance your product offerings and market reach is cost-effective short-term strategies that enable you to rapidly develop your initial track records and brand presence.
    The building of systems and SOPs are also crucial so to minimize your micro-management needs in operating the business, thus allowing you to focus on building other long-term needs of your company.
    To be sustainable in the long-run, there has to be resource investments into researching on the changing needs of the market, and effective develop products or services that responds to these needs. More revenue models and sources have to be developed so to constantly create more cost-effective and profitable means of generating revenue for the company.
    For a program service provider, human resource will be one of the greatest limiting factors. Therefore, leveraging on IT systems to reduce manpower requirements, leveraging on partner organizations to extend your market reach, exploring less costly human resource needs are just some strategies which can be employed to lower your resource constraints.
    Nevertheless, it is important that any external partners or resources employed have to be aligned with your organization or product’s social objectives. Least, the brand of the organization or product be misrepresented by others.
    What’s your expansion plan?
    Our short-term (1-2 years) plan is to focus on building our track record in Singapore, as well as develop other products to first test it out in the local market.
    Subsequently, in 2-3 years, we will be looking into reach out to other neighboring Asian countries through the various countries’ local partner organizations or established Singapore partners that are active in related enterprises in these countries.
    If opportunity arises, we will also be willing to expand our program reach to countries beyond Asia.
    With internally develop products that have market viability, we will also be looking into licensing out these products so to further extend our market reach.
    What do you hope to be the biggest takeaway from your simulations?
    Envisage hopes that participants will learn the importance of applying empathy and compassion in everything they do; specifically in relationship management, service-learning programs and entrepreneurship. With empathy and compassion, youths will learn to be more self-less and socially responsible.
    What is on your wishlist now for Envisage?
    We have been looking into developing other simulation products that will enable us to achieve other social impact and market reach, thereby enabling us to become more sustainable.
    Therefore, we would hope that various program developers, computer engineers and various personnel experienced with student development programs to partner us in creating more products that can positively and holistically develop our youths into socially responsible, innovative and passionate change-makers.
    Image credit: tarotastic