Singapore’s nascent social enterprise sector needs broader support to take off

SINGAPORE – Social entrepreneurship is gradually taking root in Singapore, raising hopes that it will solve some community problems whose scope is too narrow to attract private investment.

However, early-stage support from the traditional business community can help reduce the risks of investing in these socially responsible businesses, as well as attracting more investors, which will result in greater social impact. .

Social enterprises are not the same as philanthropic or charitable organizations. They are basically for-profit businesses dedicated to solving a problem faced by an unserved or underserved group of people.

In doing so, they aim to create lasting or transformational change in societal and business norms.

The Singapore Center for Social Enterprise (raise) defines social enterprises (SEs) as business entities created with clear social goals, management intent and allocated resources to achieve their social goals and provide business solutions to meet the needs and unmet and emerging social gaps.

raisE was established in 2015 as a joint public-private initiative to raise awareness of social entrepreneurship and build support for social enterprises in Singapore.

At its inaugural Impact Investing Conference, held on March 30 at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, raisE showcased social enterprises that have successfully integrated business and social impact. raisE provided them with funding and capacity building support that served as a catalyst for subsequent funding rounds.

For example, online health platform Jaga-Me started with a simple mission: to make universal health care accessible without compromising quality of life.

The online platform has worked with hospitals and beneficiary groups to bring professional medical services to patients from the comfort of their homes.

Since becoming a member of raisE, the company has not only succeeded in expanding its list of beneficiaries, but also its list of investors and its connections.

Mr. Julian Koo, co-founder of Jaga-Me, explains that the support from raisE Impact Finance has been extremely helpful as there are not many options for social enterprises to secure capital investment.

He noted that while charities can raise funds through philanthropic groups and from the public, SMEs rely primarily on revenue generated from the sale of their products and services. On the other hand, being an SE might not be entirely attractive to traditional for-profit investors who evaluate deals solely on their income-generating capabilities.

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