At a workshop, EMERGE participants in the iSociety category gained valuable knowledge about how to set up and run a social enterprise.
Contributed by Su Weiwen
“If you know what they want and work to provide it for them, they will help you achieve your dream.”
These words from Kenny Low, winner of the Schwab Social Entrepreneur Award in 2007, encapsulated the key to succeeding in social entrepreneurship.
He was speaking to 80 participants in a workshop at City College on Jun. 9, all of them participants in the iSociety project for City Harvest Church’s EMERGE Youth Conference 2012. This year, apart from the requisite talent and preaching competitions, the organizers of EMERGE have introduced a new category, “Salt And Light”, which requires the youth to create and execute projects that make a difference to the local community.
Low began by clarifying the term “social entrepreneurship” and explaining how it is a marriage of both a profit-driven business and a non-profit organization; social entrepreneurship is recognizing a social problem and striving to create lasting positive change. He stated that the main focus of a social entrepreneur should be the needs of society and how the business can meet them. Monetary returns are necessary, but still secondary.
The participants were inspired by the stories of social entrepreneurs presented at the workshop. These examples showed that age was not a factor, and a lack of funds does not mean the business cannot begin to take shape and impact society. All it takes is for one to find a need and have the passion to search for a solution to meet that need.
To help participants do good in the right way, helpful knowledge was also provided on the legal boundaries social entrepreneurs face, such as the different licenses they had to apply for before carrying out their projects. The stunned faces and quiet murmurs of the listeners revealed that their minds were overwhelmed with all the technical and legal information.
The day ended with participants each attempting his or her elevator pitch—a three minute sales pitch that condenses the ideas and strategies that will make the project work. Nervous energy permeated the air as each team sent a representative to convince the rest of the participants to buy into their idea of how to change society. The pitches were scrutinized and critiques were given to help everyone further solidify their proposals. Though it was a serious learning exercise, laughter was not amiss.
As the day ended and participants left, one could see the spark of enthusiasm glinting in their eyes as they were now ready and equipped to change the world.
EMERGE Youth Conference 2012 happens from July 27-29 at Suntec Convention Hall. For more information, go to www.emerge.sg