By Jack Sim, founder of World Toilet Organization
The world has 7 billion people, yet almost all goods and services are designed and delivered to only 3 billion — the Top of the Pyramid, the rich and middle-class consumers. The other 3 billion — the Base of the Pyramid or BOP — are excluded from our formal economy because they are considered too low an income group to be attractive enough for businesses.
This state of affairs was caused by a tremendously attractive business environment in the past two centuries where producers focus on the Top of the Pyramid. However, in a globalised world where the speed of product penetration into developed markets have reached almost saturation point, businesses are finding it very hard to make a profit. Big successful firms are buying up smaller ones and the competitive disparity is making it harder for SMEs and MNCs alike to fight for survival. The myth of High-Tech = High Profit has now mutated into High-Tech = High Obsolescence. Read more
Targeted towards aspiring social entrepreneurs aged 26 and below across all nationalities, Singapore International Foundation (SIF) is currently accepting applications for its Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Programme.
If you believe you have a valuable idea for a social enterprise and want to have an opportunity to make that dream a reality, this programme is for you. Read more
The Arthur Guinness Fund is targeted at people with a business head and a social heart, who are committed to finding innovative solutions to address the social problems they see in the world. The Fund was recently launched in Singapore with a focus on empowering marginalised women to lead better lives; Bettr Barista Coffee Academy was selected as the first social enterprise to receive support.
UP Singapore and the Fund are working together to host the first-ever Arthur Guinness Fund hackathon with a specific focus on single mothers and ex-offenders. The hackathon will bring together like-minded people for a weekend of intensive collaboration, to develop solutions to help these marginalised women overcome the social and economic barriers making it difficult for them to support themselves and their family financially.
Guinness has allotted up to $60,000 in investment to support the best ideas generated over the hackathon weekend, where teams will work under the guidance of expert mentors, with the money awarded to the teams judged to have the most innovative, and viable ideas. These winning ideas will then be overseen by Guinness through a long-term commitment, to help develop them into real-world projects which can effect sustainable social change.
Channel NewsAsia had a feature on Bettr Barista & the Arthur Guinness Fund. Video below:
DBS Bank will give SGD 340,000 (USD 278,000) in project grants to 4 social enterprises. The money is part of SGD 1 million (USD 818,000) that will be doled out by the bank to worthy projects. DBS will also provide process improvement expertise to help the businesses expand. Read more
Silverline, a new venture by Singapore-based sustainable business incubator Newton Circus, has partnered with SingTel on an initiative to put smartphones into the hands of seniors.
But these are not ordinary smartphones. They are refurbished second hand-devices with senior-friendly apps installed.
Connect, for instance, presents the contact list in a visual format to aid the visually impaired. Well Being provides reminders for taking medicine, drinking water, and doing exercise. These are just some of the apps that are available (website has the full list). Read more
A version of this article was first published on The Catalysts. The author, Rachel Chan, is a co-founder of MaD, a program that promotes innovation in Asia.
Aging populations in developed countries is a problem social enterprises can solve. Photo: ell brown
The concept of social enterprises has a long history, albeit manifested under different names and forms.
The backlash against the deficiencies of capitalism in recent years has accentuated the development of social enterprises around the world. However, there is still not a shared consensus on what social enterprises are.
Myth #1: Social enterprises are confined to helping the have-nots
Social enterprise has philanthropic roots in the US and cooperative origins in the UK. More recently, some governments are also trying to encourage the third sector to take a more market-driven approach in providing social goods. Social enterprises are therefore often narrowly seen as organisations seeking to solve the problems of the bottom of the pyramid or challenges in developing economies. Read more
In parts of rural Cambodia, farmers’ primary source of income comes from harvesting rice — once a year. This is a poor outcome compared to other ASEAN countries which harvest twice or thrice annually.
To help increase farmers’ income, Victor Combal-Weiss and Guillaume Virag founded Project Alba. Project Alba’s socially-minded, sustainable business model works by lowering the risk for farmers to start a second cropping. Farmers get their farm inputs like seeds, fertilizers, and technical knowhow from Project Alba along with a guaranteed buying price for their produce.
In Cambodia, Project Alba has already developed a market for lettuce — an entirely new crop that wasn’t previously produced in Cambodia. It turned out there was a ready market for the vegetable in the increasing number of high end hotels that were sprouting in Cambodia. Read more
SAP and Ashoka Changemakers recently launched a global online competition titled The Power of Small: Entrepreneurs Strengthening Local Economies on 20th June 2012 which we covered here.
To spice things up further, they will hold a Twitter-based #SocEntChat, a live Twitter discussion this July 18, from 10am to 12am CET (July 18, 4:00PM to July 19, 6:00AM SGT). This initiative aims to encourage discussion about innovative strategies that help small businesses and emerging social entrepreneurs thrive in underserved communities. Special guests Rob Henning, co-founder and partner at Entrepreneurial Solutions Partner, and Alex van der Ploeg, Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP, will join the conversation. Read more
Interested in setting up your own social enterprise? Or just keen to find out what exactly social entrepreneurship is? This is chance to find out all about social entrepreneurship in Singapore!
Looking for social enterprises to invest in? Keen to find out more about how the philanthropy of these enterprises create social impact in a sustainable way?
Business Angel Network Southeast Asia (BANSEA) and NUS Enterprise are co-organizing their inaugural Social Venture Pitching Day on 27th July 2012 to provide social enterprises an opportunity to demonstrate their viable business ideas and raise funds. Read more