SIF Young Social Entrepreneurs Programme 2013


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I went for a 3 day workshop as part of Singapore International Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurship Programme (4th year running now) I had scrambled to get The Dorsal effect registered in, just before leaving for Kenya last year. It was an intensive 3 days indeed which much learning and immediate application and more inspiring moments along the way. I also believe this is just the very start of things to come for me in life and I am excited to let things develop and pan out.

On the first day, we had Ms Elim Chew set things in motion first thing in the morning, with her bubbly disposition, an entrepreneur who speaks from the heart and who is all heart.  Mr Patrick Turner, an Affiliate Professor of Entrepreneurship at INSEAD also gave us invaluable insights into the basic truths of starting a business, the importance of surveys and focus group discussions and the need to automate as much as we can.

We also got to check out the new branch of Food For Thought at Botanic Gardens and speak to one of the co-founders of School of Thought, Ms Kuik Shiao Yin, who said something that was simple truths quite frankly and that made a lot of sense to us. You never know if a business is going to take off or not, you just have to do it anyway.

I liked the talk about measuring social impact and sustainability by the National Volunteers’ and Philanthropy Council on day 2 and it gave us a clearer perspective about how things in a social enterprise measures returns on investments in a very different way, sometimes qualitatively.

It was rather magical meeting Ethan from Empact, a company that bridges the divide between social enterprises and real business technicalities after the forum by Magic Bus’ Matthew Spacie at Marina Bay Financial Tower. As Ethan shared about his idea on setting up common spaces for backpackers and travellers’ to interact, I was reminded by Wei Yuet later that it concurred with a dream I had one night before! It was a moment of enlightenment goose bumps and I am excited to see what is going to pan out with this meeting with Ethan. Truly, everything happens for a reason and nothing by chance.

The nights after the workshop was also spent working on refining the presentation with all the learnings done during the course of the workshop and I must say Wei Yuet and myself make a fine team together and were truly in our elements during the presentation to Elim Chew, Nawal K Roy and Keith Chua on the last day. Yet, in spite of all the preparation and good presentation, I was still very much in a state of shock when it was announced that The Dorsal Effect had made it to the next round of the programme with McKinsey biz clinics, study visits to either Thailand or India and final pitch for the $10,000 in October, to come.

It had been a great 3 days indeed, meeting many passionate young individuals with a heart for the causes they champion through their social enterprise ideas and being clearer about what I hope to achieve through The Dorsal Effect. Getting a chance to speak to so many people who have been there and done that in the fiel of social causes through enterprise and learning about interacting and collaborating with people all over again.

I truly hope this is just the start of better things to come as we made our declaration of courage at the end of the workshop for The Dorsal Effect: by 2015, there will be no more shark fishing and killing in Tanjung Luar, Lombok. Here is to a better world and I must believe it is in my hands to shape it.

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