Social enterprises are businesses that address social challenges in a financially sustainable manner, while making a significant contribution to the development of the social enterprise sector.
Unlike other business organizations, they have business, social, and environmental goals, with a clear management intent, purpose, and resources allocated to meet their social objectives. Thanks to a deliberate effort from the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE) to raise awareness of Social Enterprise in Singapore. The Centre’s constant support has increased interest in social entrepreneurship in the country.
Anyone can become a part of this good venture. As an individual, you can participate and involve in various social enterprise support programmes and buy their product and services. Entrepreneurs, SMEs, and corporations can also join the effort by becoming social enterprise members or starting a social enterprise.
Various Support Programmes and Events to Raise Awareness
The Singapore Enterprise for Social Enterprise (raiSE) came into being in 2015 via a cross-sector collaboration with the National Council of Social Service, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Tote Board, and Social Enterprise Association. To support social entrepreneurship in Singapore, raiSE conducts several support programmes like:
Venture for Good (VGF)
The raiSE extends support to social enterprises through the VentureForGood grant funding scheme. Whether your social enterprise business is a startup or an existing one, you can apply for a grant of up to $300,000 under the VGF scheme, being at any stage. For applying for the grant, your SE business should be in Singapore registered under the Co-operative Societies Act or Companies Act, or it is a new entity you intend to register.
However, you need to fulfil the following to become eligible for the grant.
- Incorporate your business under any of the Acts and become a member of raiSE
- Address a social gap in Singapore whether it is beneficiary-focused or non-beneficiary-focused
- Have a compelling social objective addressing the social gap
- Have a workable business proposition
- A committed team
Social Enterprise Fellowship Programme
With this fellowship programme, social enterprises are helped to develop their capabilities and improve their financial sustainability by engaging experienced professionals who want to make a contribution to the SE sector for 4-6 months. The engagements fall under two types:
- Fellowship engagement – Under this 4 to 6-month long engagement programme, a social enterprise will have regular mentoring sessions from a Fellow to help attain concrete and chosen milestones for growth.
- Mentorship engagement – Here, an SE is engaged with a mentor for 6 months for guidance and feedback every month.
Social enterprises get opportunities for hands-on and practical learning through raiSE masterclasses. Such classes are offered on various topics like digital marketing, hiring persons with disabilities, growth planning, and service innovation, which will help SEs improve their capabilities and grow their business.
Role of DBS in supporting social enterprises in Singapore
DBS Foundation has been instrumental in supporting social enterprises with grant funding and other resources like skills-and-capability-building workshops and business opportunities in Singapore. Through the DBS Social Enterprise Support Programme, DBS offers mentoring sessions to social enterprises. The programme is offered at the DBS SME Academy and it addresses the SE priorities like:
- Attaining financial sustainability through improved business models
- Fund sourcing, and
- Customer acquisition
Social enterprises, which have limited resources, struggle to make a great social impact in the country. With this SE support programme, which includes mentoring, training, and financing, DBS helps deepen SEs’ commitment to creating social impact.
To conclude, social enterprises in Singapore though in early stages, are promising. They are viable businesses that seek to attain an array of social objectives by focusing on their priorities and challenges.