Thursday, April 11, 2013

Social Entrepreneurship, “What is it and why should you get involved?”

Social entrepreneurship is an increasingly popular term in Singapore, often widely defined as social oriented organizations that sustainably create social and/or environmental impact, while ensuring that it is economically viable (Double or triple bottom –lines).

As written on the Social Enterprise Association (SEAssociation) website, Social Enterprises operate in the form of 4 commonly known business models:
1. Plough-back model: Ploughs all/part of their profits into a non-profit cause/organization.
2. Subsidies model: Sells its products in the market at normal or higher prices, and transfer all/part
of its profits to a specific beneficiary community by selling to them at large discounts.
3. Work-integration model: Aims to provide employment to the marginalized.
4. Social needs model: Creates sustainable solutions towards a social cause.

Additionally, non-profit and for-profit organizations with mentioned attributes are both till date acceptable forms of social enterprises.

Upon researching into the reasons why youths commonly get involved in social entrepreneurship, I have observered the following:
1. The idea of doing “good” sustainably, with the project’s financial feasibility under consideration, has increasingly been viewed as a more ideal way to create social change.
2. Social entrepreneurship provides youths the ability to exercise their creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial skills for the benefit of a social cause which they are equally passionate about.
3. The process of starting a social enterprise provides the founders the opportunity to acquire entrepreneurial skills, experiences and networks which will help them in future start-ups.
4. They simply just want to do “good”! By helping their beneficiaries achieve better quality of life or standard of living through their social enterprise.

However, beyond all the lofty ambitions and motivations, every social entrepreneur wanna-be should take important note that the route to creating a successful social enterprise is no easier than a for- profit one. Hence, similar to the statistics of 9 in 10 start-ups failing, social enterprises are no different!

Therefore, prior to starting a social enterprise, please beware of the risk of failing, and even worse, the risk you are potentially exposing to the beneficiaries you are helping in the event that you fail. There have already been a few cases, where many disadvantaged after giving up their previous jobs to join a social enterprise ended up becoming unemployed as enterprise went bankrupt within just a few months of starting up.

Nonetheless, I still do encourage youths to get into the business of social entrepreneurship. Despite the risk, the extensive rewards of social problems being resolved sustainably through successful social enterprises should not be undermined. In addition, even if one fails, the entire start-up experience will definitely transform every founder into a person of great character and entrepreneurial spirit.

- Written by Stanley Chia, Managing Director of Envisage Education Pte Ltd, a registered social enterprise of the Social Enterprise Association

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

First day in Brunei (Before the Eco Socio Entrepreneurship Seminar)

It was a good first day in Brunei, seeing that so much has changed! The airport is much more well furnished, with further renovations going on, and there is a fantastic hotel just 10mins away from the airport called Times Hotel (Established just 3 years ago)!
At the hotel, there were many familiar stalls like Each a Cup and even Pasta Mania, and some other Makan and shopping palces near-by.

But of course, we went to none of those! Haha Why go to these places, when you can have a good taste of authentic local food at the Tamu Selera Pasamalam! Crab, Big Fish, Calamari, Prawns and more at just $70 for a meal that fed 8 people (And still had left overs for take away)!

Nonetheless, what I appreciated the most is of course the company of Fatin, Khai and their volunteers! We had a good mix of casual conversations, but I also managed to learn plenty about the youths in Brunei, and the state of the people's mentality on their personal motivations to achieve and the civic movement there.

It was interesting to find out that due to the huge amount of welfare given by the government to the people, many youths have grown to become complacent and expects the government to continuously provide indefinitely, often expecting that opportunities will be provided to them without them needing to work hard for it. Coupled with no requirement of compulsory social service (Unlike in Singapore), most youths are generally disengaged from civic movements, and does not have the inner drive to achieve and give back to society.

As such, it has been observed that the youths have been passionately conversing about change and progress, but not many actually have the drive and enterprising spirit to turn ideas into reality.

Nonetheless, after a short interaction with the youths, some of them showed true passion for what Green Brunei stands for, and their vision to empower youths with the positive motivation to do good for themselves and the society! As such, similar to what Green Brunei's believes, I think that if given a push in the right direction and also a stronger emphasis in action-oriented initiatives, more youths in Brunei should be willing to step-up, and become a positive contributor to their society!

I just pray that I would be of good service to them tomorrow, and hopefully I too can help motivate one or two youths towards the possibility of leaving a legacy for their country!