Strategic Plan to Develop Social Entrepreneurship and social enterprises in Singapore and overseas

Parliamentary Question, 2 Sep 2019

Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what is the strategic plan for the development of social entrepreneurship and social enterprises in Singapore; (b) what support do local social enterprises (SEs) have for expanding overseas; © whether there are plans to work across Ministries and leverage on Enterprise Singapore’s resources to create a special scale-up programme for SEs; and (d) whether SEs will continue to be positioned as an extension of social service agencies or is the sector now ready to be seen as businesses in the private sector.

Mr Desmond Lee: Social enterprises play an important role in our social service landscape, in providing impactful and innovative solutions to address social needs. As business entities with clear social goals, they lie between for-profit businesses and charities, by pursuing the double bottom line of both financial performance and social impact. Hence, they are entities distinct from social service agencies, which are non-profits or charities.

Recognising that social enterprises require support and encouragement, MSF set up the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise, or raiSE, in 2015, with the strategic aim of nurturing social enterprises. As a sector developer, raiSE provides capacity building and funding support for social enterprises to grow both their businesses and social impact. The VentureForGood (VFG) grant under raiSE, which is funded by MSF, aims to support social enterprises that are starting up or expanding their operations, with up to $300,000 in grants. As at end-FY2018, raiSE has supported more than 120 social enterprises with committed funding of over $11 million under VFG. There are no plans to create another separate scale-up programme for social enterprises, as social enterprises are able to leverage existing grants and support under raiSE and Enterprise Singapore to accelerate growth and scale. raiSE will continue to provide advisory services to guide social enterprises in navigating the available resources and support.

In addition to funding support, raiSE is also building up an ecosystem of support for social enterprises, and equipping social enterprises with the requisite skills, knowledge and capabilities. To this end, raiSE has launched masterclasses, mentorship programmes, and provided strategic coaching in collaboration with industry partners and like-minded individuals who support social enterprises. They have also provided networking platforms for social enterprises to engage industry experts and increase understanding of social issues to co-create impact. Regionally, raiSE is exploring the formation of an informal network of social enterprise sector developers, to facilitate the exchange of ideas between social enterprises within ASEAN, and eventually support our social enterprises in gaining access to markets outside Singapore.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)

The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities. She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and volunteerism in Parliament.

She is also an impact entrepreneur/investor and a passionate mental health advocate, especially in workplace wellbeing. She started WorkWell Leaders Workgroup in May 2018 to bring together top leaders (CXOs, Heads of HR/CSR/D&I) of top employers in Singapore (both public and private) to share, discuss and co-create inclusive practices to promote workplace wellbeing. Anthea is also the founder of Hush TeaBar, Singapore’s 1st silent teabar and a social movement that aims to bring silence, self care and social inclusion into every workplace, every community — with a cup of tea. The Hush Experience is completely led by lovingly-trained Deaf facilitators, supported by a team of Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHIs).

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A full-time human, and part-time everything else.

A full-time human, and part-time everything else.