15 Youths from Five Countries Triumphed at Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Backed by Strong Mentorship Support

5:45:39 PM | 11/21/2023

Six social enterprise teams from five countries emerged as winners at this year’s Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Global Programme organised by the Singapore International Foundation (SIF). The teams were represented by 15 youths from China, India, Indonesia, Laos, and Singapore.

They presented the strongest business ideas that addressed social and environmental causes including mental health services, water conservation, the provision of skills and technology for underserved communities, and women empowerment.

The YSE Global Programme also enjoyed the highest level of mentorship support in its 14-year history.

A total of 82 volunteer mentors spent more than 330 hours working with participant teams this year, a 32 per cent increase in hours compared to the previous year.

Mentorship support began at the YSE Global 2023 Workshop held from 7 to 10 June. The mentors comprised business professionals and established social entrepreneurs and they helped 46 teams to strengthen their business fundamentals and strategies.

A total of 15 teams from the June workshop advanced to the next phase of the programme and were assigned up to three mentors from July to October. The volunteer mentors comprised leading business consultants from McKinsey & Company, Temasek International, Bain & Company, and seasoned industry professionals.

During this four-month phase, the volunteer mentors played a crucial role in guiding participants on running a social enterprise. They also helped prepare the teams for an event called Pitching for Change, scheduled for November, which serves as the finale and closing event for YSE. During this event, the teams presented their refined business plans to a panel of judges to secure funding.

Ms Mahdiyyah Ardhina, a member of Rumah Briket and YSE 2023 participant from Indonesia said: “YSE Global has been an intensive boot camp for our team as we are still new in our business. We thank our mentors for their experience and input. They have been invaluable these past few months. They imparted critical knowledge based on years of professional experience and provided fresh perspectives on our business plans.” Rumah Briket created a zero-waste solution that processes organic and non-organic waste and converts it into charcoal briquettes and paving blocks.

Dr Yoke Pean Thye, co-founder of WISE, a non-profit organisation that works towards a sustainable and equitable Southeast Asia, and mentor to Rumah Briket, said: “It has been my privilege to support the team. Having benefited from a YSE Regional workshop myself several years ago, I am grateful for the opportunity to give back and help Rumah Briket reflect on and refine their business model. I was heartened and inspired by their passion to address the waste management crisis in Indonesia, dedication to their social enterprise and benefiting the community, as well as motivation to learn and challenge themselves.”

She also encouraged more people to sign up as mentors for YSE Global. She said: "It is a meaningful avenue for people who are keen to share their experience with youths who are figuring out their social impact journey.”

Mr Lian Wee Cheow, SIF Vice-Chairman and Lead Judge of YSE Global 2023 said: “Mentorship is a key component of YSE Global. Our YSE mentors, who are industry leaders with vast experience, have committed their time to share their expertise and networks with our aspiring changemakers. This broadens the horizons of our young participants who are at an early, critical juncture of their journey as a social entrepreneur.”

He added: “Since 2010, YSE Global has been nurturing a growing network, which now comprises more than 1,400 youths of 43 nationalities, representing 674 social enterprises. By providing mentorship, capacity-building workshops, and regional learning opportunities, YSE supports budding social entrepreneurs to kickstart their journey.”

Winning Teams Announced at YSE Global 2023 - Pitching for Change

Six out of the 15 shortlisted teams were announced as winners when they gathered virtually at Pitching for Change on 17 November. They were chosen based on the impact and scalability of their business ideas, as well as their commitment level. They are (in alphabetical order):

1. Anubhuti Samiti (India)
2. China House (China)
3. HomePal (Singapore and China)
4. LeLao (Laos)
5. ReservoAir (Indonesia)
6. Rumah Briket (Indonesia)

Each team was awarded funding of up to S$20,000 to launch or scale up their social enterprises. A mentor will be assigned to guide them on how to use the funds and to support their development for the next one-and-a-half years.

Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Singapore’s Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Social and Family Development, was the Guest of Honour at the event. In his speech, he applauded the determination of the teams who tackled tough problems with creativity and resilience.

He said: “These teams advocated for social causes they care deeply about. They presented an exciting range of ideas – from access to mental health services, to sustainable practices, educational equity, and support for vulnerable communities. Many spoke passionately on creating meaningful change in society. I am humbled by their passion in wanting to serve others, and their dedication in looking beyond immediate needs to innovate solutions for the wider community. This is no easy feat.”

Mr Lai Hoi Bing, co-founder of Homepal from Singapore, said: “YSE Global has been a positive and enriching experience like no other. The business clinics and training workshops have provided my team with relevant skills and knowledge such as the use of the social enterprise business model canvas tool to refine our go-to market strategy and social impact calculation. We hope to apply these new learnings to propel our social enterprise to the next level. We look forward to scaling up our social enterprise with the grant.” HomePal is a social enterprise from Singapore and China that supports the elderly through the development of an Internet of Things (IoT) system using privacy-preserving home monitoring and safety solutions.

Ms Manithip Vongphachanh, co-founder of LeLao from Laos, was inspired by other YSE Global teams. She said: “The programme introduced me to a global network of like-minded peers who are doing amazing work to make a positive difference for the society. My favourite part of the programme was when we exchanged ideas and learned new facts about our respective communities. I felt less alone and more inspired to keep pursuing our work in empowering vulnerable communities through eco fashion.” LeLao’s employees produce affordable and sustainable fashion products recycled from fabric waste and the products are designed to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Laos.

The YSE Global programme seeks to inspire, equip, and enable youth of different nationalities to launch or scale up their social enterprises in Singapore and beyond. The programme is chronicled on social media with the hashtag #sifyse.

B.H (Vietnam Business Forum)