On August 25, 2023, the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) held the fourth and final session of its ESG Masterclass series onsite at its campus. Organized in partnership between SUTD’s Create4Good Innovation Fund and KrASIA, the series focused on providing those interested in creating their own social enterprise with deeper understanding of social impact.
The final session discussed the importance of equality and how social enterprises can provide support to marginalized groups. Nurul Hussain, founder of The Codette Project, opened the session by describing her project’s commitment to offering mentorship and financial support to minority groups and Muslim women, facilitating their entry into the technology sector. The Codette Project also organizes various events and exhibitions to acknowledge the significant contributions of these groups.
Drawing on her personal experience managing challenges she faced during the inception of The Codette Project, Hussain emphasized the pivotal role of communities for the underrepresented. She offered valuable advice on cultivating communities from the ground up, underscoring the importance of cultivating a clear and long-term vision, cautioning that, without it, community-building efforts might falter.
“Community is not a short term project. If you don’t build for the long term, the impact is on your community because you are making them promises and if you’re only going to be around for one to two years, you are not serving the community,” Hussain said.
The subsequent segment was led by Yinzhou Cai, founder of Geylang Adventures, a social enterprise dedicated to showcasing an alternative side of Singapore’s often misunderstood Geylang neighborhood. Geylang Adventures aims to achieve this through a variety of activities, raising awareness through food tours and other community-based events.
Cai’s endeavors also extend to organizing activities for migrant workers, such as complimentary haircuts and recreational volleyball matches. He also collaborates with the local elderly population. One of his notable initiatives includes guided tours of Geylang, seeking to highlight the challenges commonly faced by migrant workers while assimilating into the Singaporean cultural fabric.
“The tours today that I do are more for advocacy because we inform people [on matters] that many may not think about on a day-to-day basis. I think our role is not to influence people [to undertake] any particular points of view, but it’s to give them the information and to see what they cannot [subsequently] unsee, and hopefully they will think about it for a long time,” Cai said
Preceding the final session helmed by Hussain and Cai were three other sessions also organized as part of the series, discussing topics related to social impact including recent trends, healthcare access, and opportunities available to social enterprises in Singapore. The sessions featured these guest speakers:
- Cassandra Chow, manager of sector growth, raiSE
- Hannah Wong, manager of collaborative financing, raiSE
- Timonthy Low, COO, Halogen Foundation Singapore
- Edward Booty, founder and CEO, reach52
Weiren Loh, senior ecosystem development and program manager at SUTD, said that he hopes the sessions will help strengthen interest in Singapore’s social enterprises.
“We came up with the ESG Masterclass series as a way to help budding social entrepreneurs get up to speed with the community. We bring in experts from different fields to share practical knowledge and tips. This way, budding social entrepreneurs can quickly learn about the strategies that have worked in the past to deliver sustained impact to the needy communities in Singapore. It’s like a shortcut to gaining the know-how you need to create positive changes that last,” Loh said.
Having concluded the sessions, the spotlight now shifts to the upcoming Create4Good Accelerator program scheduled to take place later this month. This program aims to mentor and offer support to entrepreneurs with innovative startup ideas that hold the promise of creating a meaningful impact in Singapore. Program participants with standout ideas have an opportunity to receive an enticing SGD 50,000 in funding, among other benefits.