Ngooi Zhi Cheng, Student Ambassador 2020/21 at Seedly
Updated on 09 Dec 2020
Singapore is actually considered a start-up heaven. As an international financial and tech center, it had been ranked by Forbes last year as the eighth-best place within the world to try to do business.
But it’s also an area where a variety of companies are making an enduring impact on society. Within the city-state that’s home to 5.6 million people, there are 40,000 local startups – and a number of other of them aim to try to do social good.
Personally, I have intentions of starting up a social startup, and as such had done quite a fair bit of research on the different models of social entrepreneurship.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the FOUR different models of social entrepreneurship.
Social Enterprises that adopt a Social Needs Model are designed to serve society's needs or address social issues. they're considered the standard not-for-profit ventures. An example is Freedom Cup, founded by three Singaporean Sisters
Freedom Cups aims to get a menstrual cup into the hands of as many women and girls as they can. Reusable Cups can hold more blood than other methods, leading many women to use them as an eco-friendly alternative to pads.
For every Freedom Cup purchased here, they provide one to a woman from an underprivileged community as well.
The second category is that the Profit Plough Back Model. Social ventures that adopt the Profit Plough Back Model generate profit to fund the social programs of their affiliate or parent charities. Doing so will reduce their reliance on donations and thus improve their financial sustainability.
A good example of this is the YMCA.
Established in 1902, the YMCA of Singapore is a volunteer-based Christian organization that seeks to serve and impact all members of the community. They serve all regardless of race, language, or religion, through programs, services, and enterprises. They aim to develop the body, mind, and spirit.
Besides donations from individuals and corporations, YMCA sustains in activities through its budget hotel called the YMCA International House.
Moving on, we have the third type of Social Entrepreneurship. Social Enterprises that employ a Subsidised Services Model provide subsidized services to their needy clients and charge commercial rates to mainstream customers. This ensures that a disadvantaged person will not be deprived of receiving these services.
A good example of this is Bridge Learning, founded by Ms. Areena Loo.
Areena set up Bridge Learning in 2003 with deep convictions on the immense potential of learners who learn differently. With Bridge Learning, she aims to demystify special needs and integrate children into the mainstream system. Bridge Learning is a one-stop diagnostic learning support and specialized intervention center that sets aside funds to provide subsidies to children from low-income families who want to gain access to their learning support and intervention.
Finally, we come to the last category - the Work Integration Model. Social entrepreneurs pursuing the Work Integration Model provide skills and training and employment opportunities to the marginalized groups as a means to reintegrate them into society and encourage them to be self-reliant. They provide opportunities to people who may find it difficult to obtain employment due to their past or present circumstances. These groups may include ex-offenders, the elderly, single mothers, mentally challenged people, and the like.
Here is an example of a social enterprise adopting a Work Integration Model: Alteration Initiative, a garment alteration company, founded by Ms. Josephine Ng.
Alteration Initiative aims to provide disadvantaged women, particularly single mothers, with employment opportunities to obtain a better quality of life, integrating them into mainstream society. Alteration Initiative won the 2012 President's Challenge Social Enterprise of the Year Award.
Having seen these four social entrepreneurship models, do you have an idea of what you want to start?
P.S Do take a look at the social startups I have listed here :) It would be great to support these brave individuals looking to make an impact on our island state.