The Student Shop@VivoCity, run by a group of community-driven O-Level students, is an eye -opener for would-be entrepreneurs.
Contributed By Melissa Chen
It was more than an English lesson. To this class of 18 O-Level students from City College, it was a groundbreaking effort at social entrepreneurship. The students gave it their all and pumped in their creative juices for this project, held at PaTH Market in VivoCity, Level 1, West Court from March 27 to 28.
This business project was driven by English teacher Dawn Fung as part of the class lesson for situational writing. “My goal for this year is to teach both exam skills and real life skills, so that students can apply what they learn in English class to real life,” said Fung. As situational writing deals with the students’ ability to adapt to various given situations, Fung felt that being involved in a form of business is an ideal framework for her students to use their skills appropriately.
“Through this business project, the students get to learn how to write business proposals and plans, presenting and speaking to sponsors, clients and peers, reading customer and market profiles, and making quick decisions. Above and beyond all these, they will learn the all-important value of teamwork,” explained Fung.
“With lessons learned outside the classrooms, the students will deal with real life skills, making their exam skills more relevant. At the same time, part of the proceeds of this project will go to Mighty Kids Families and Communities, under the registered charity Life Community Services Society,” said the 30-year-old.
This entrepreneurship project was showcased both at City College and PaTH Market@VivoCity. PaTH (Pop and Talent Hub) is an initiative of the Social Innovation Park Ltd., an impartial, not-for-profit organization based in Singapore that incubates social entrepreneurs and innovators worldwide to bring positive innovations to lives and societies.
PaTH champions social entrepreneurship via the arts by developing creative PaTH talents from traditionally marginalized groups. Through the initiative, PaTH talents gain access to mentors, networks, and commercial sales platforms, giving them opportunities to develop their talents to create sustainable business ventures. At the same time, PaTH aims to instigate a mindset change in the community, showing that every person can positively contribute to society.
Stalls at PaTH are run by social enterprises motivated by a do-good purpose. The stall Gift and Take, for example, sells aromatherapy sets created by disadvantaged Singaporean mums, and VillageWorks sells stylish ethnic bags with profits funding the needy in Cambodia.
Testifying to the success of PaTH’s model for sustainability, beneficiaries and talent participants have been impacted in areas extending to the creation of employment, a generation of income, greater awareness for various social causes and projects, a connection to the community at large as well as business organizations within the PaTH Talent Pool.
The O-Level students of City College were put into groups to discuss business plans, sales concepts and product offers, with the help of their teacher and an associate from PaTH. They put in several weeks of preparation and hard work, maximizing their creative talents for a greater use. Some of the items sold at their stalls were handmade products such as customized pots and jars, iPhone cases, handmade limited edition files and photo cards, personalized photo prints; posters and notebooks, accessories and candles.
David Vu, a 19-year old student from Vietnam acknowledged that one of his difficulties faced in preparing for this project was undoubtedly a language and communication barrier, “It was also difficult to come up with a suitable product design that is marketable due to time constraint.”
Team leader Brian Pillai, 16, who handled the photography for the poster prints and notebooks, shared that this project has helped him to practically apply the theoretical skills that he has learned in the classroom. “I’ve learned how to organize and plan as a team leader; taking the time to listen to my team members and disseminating clear instructions to them.”
|PHOTO: Peragas Shaarmathi|
Pillai added that one valuable lesson he has learned through The Student Shop@VivoCity is that “the best advice is sometimes to listen to the advice of others,” especially those who have had similar experiences.
For Angelina Lim, 21, the greatest challenge she faced was learning how to negotiate for sponsorships and consignments. “Sponsors were initially not receptive to our proposals but they eventually decided to hear us out and give us a chance to prove ourselves. It was truly a test for my communication and interactive skills.”
These experiences were exactly what Fung had in mind when she decided to task the students with the project. Fung is just one of the many teachers at City College who strive to provide students with a learning environment that supports all-round development. By introducing real-life applications to books, lessons come alive for the students, helping them to see the relevance of the curriculum and to acquire a concrete grasp of otherwise abstract concepts.
For more information on the PaTH Market @ VivoCity, log on to http://www.popandtalenthub.com/.