Building an enterprise that meets the needs of society.
|CN PHOTO: Kenneth Tan
The Social Enterprise elective workshop during CGI-AC 2010 was attended by aspiring social entrepreneurs. The workshop was conducted by Kenny Low, winner of SIP-Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2007).
Low summed it up as “the art of seeing value in people,” explaining that social entrepreneurship is setting up and running a company with a social mission to fulfill a need in society, drawing resources from the market and philanthropic circle, appealing to “wants” in order to meet needs. Low went on to explain that every person is valuable and social entrepreneurs must be able to see the value in people.
He talked about how he saw the potential in youth and decided to set up City College, a private school that offers preparatory courses for both GCE O and N-Level examinations. While other industrial competitors were charging expensive upfront payments and hiring part-time teachers because of the profile of clients being highly volatile and high-risk customers (mainly school drop-outs, these youth are often deemed “failures” by society), Low saw the potential in these youths, employing the outlier strategy such as hiring full-time teachers and allowing students to pay in instalments instead of making upfront payments.
He also emphasized on the need to use innovative models of learning, one of which was incorporating clips from movies such as Kungfu Hustle and Matrix to teach students about transverse waves instead of the age old method of flashing a diagram to teach about it.
“Many people ask me for the secret of City College’s success, expecting me to provide them with an extensive framework, but I told them simply—we accept them, believe in them and love them. Value is in the eye of the beholder,” Low shared. “Being a ‘pai kia’ (dialect slang for a street kid),” as Low described himself, he took a step further this time and set up O school, a dance school allowing aspiring dancers (who can’t find a value for their dancing skills) a job to put their skills to good use.
Lim Wing Hing, a self-employed 60-year-old from Kuching, Malaysia who attended the conference with his daughter, said, “This elective is really great because I am able to expose myself to something that I’ve missed out in my lifetime career. I hope to be able to set up a social enterprise that is able ‘to see the value in people.’”