Universitas Ciputra Visit to ACSEP and NUS Business School

On 18 July 2018, Ciputra University visited the Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy to trade ideas and build friendships across borders.

About 30 students from the university’s psychology department – which takes a special interest in entrepreneurship – were in Singapore for about a week to explore its cultural sites and gain insights on solving social issues through business.


Our Research Associate Ms. Joanna Hioe presented hers and Associate Professor Lam Swee Sum’s research on Grassroots Philanthropy in the New Millennium. This gave the students a brief introduction into Singapore’s social history that givers today. Among the students were two who would qualify as grassroots philanthropists (with definitions limited to founders of informal organisations), in how they respectively started a movement to redress sexual abuse and an organisation to combat illiteracy in Indonesia.

Later, Theda Renanita, a lecturer at Ciputra University, gave a brief introduction to Ciputra University’s unique programme that emphasises entrepreneurship and innovation, together with psychology. Two of the students shared more about their entrepreneurship-centric curriculum and experiential activities – including a festival that promotes the development of businesses to solve social problems.

We look forward to more opportunities for cross-university exchanges in the future!



ARNOVA-Asia Conference 2018: New Opportunities in Asia

On the 27 – 28 of July 2018, the Association for Research on Non-profit Organisations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA)-Asia Conference 2018 took place in Hong Kong University. Themed “Evolving Government-Third Sector Relations in Asia”, the conference aimed to address changing roles of the third sector in public affairs, and implications for non-profit management, philanthropic practice, and volunteering.

This is the second edition of the conference’s Asian instalment, signalling an increased interest in the sector in this region. The 2017 conference took place in Beijing, China, and the upcoming edition of the conference in 2019 is due to take place in Tai Chung, Taiwan.

Hong Kong is moving in the direction of social innovation to meet social needs, shared Mrs.  Carrie Lam, GBS, GBM, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, who was the officiating guest of the conference. Conference attendees – made up of academics, non-profit executives, philanthropy practitioners, social entrepreneurs, and policymakers – presented on a broad range of themes, from trajectories of government-third sector relations, to processes of collaboration, to the use of ICT and social media.


ACSEP in Action

Two research staff from the Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy presented their research. Dr. Frank Hubers shared results from his experimental study on “Does showing poverty affect donations?” while Ms. Hioe Zhi Hui Joanna shared preliminary findings from her and ACSEP Director Associate Professor Lam Swee Sum’s exploratory study on “Grassroots Philanthropy in the New Millennium in Singapore”.


Dr. Frank Hubers (top) and Ms. Hioe Zhi Hui Joanna (bottom) sharing ACSEP research.

“The conference was a good way to understand the social sector in Hong Kong,” said Dr. Hubers. Ms. Hioe concurred, “It was a pleasure to meet scholars and practitioners whose work centres in East Asia, and to hear of opportunities for the sector’s growth at this time.”

Zhenro Foundation visit to NUS Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy


On 16 October 2017, the NUS Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy was privileged to host a delegation from mainland China, led by Zhenro Foundation (http://www.zhenro.cn/). The delegation, comprised of individuals from four organisations (Zhenro Foundation, Harmony Community Foundation, IYouShe Community Cultural Development Centre, and Fengrong Community Service Centre) was eager to glean insights from ACSEP’s experience in research and education in the related social sector that they could implement in their local context. In turn, three of the organisations shared about their work on this platform of mutual exchange.


Dr. Zhang Weina, Research Director, ACSEP, introducing ACSEP to the Zhenro delegates.

Zhenro Foundation

Lu Lichun, Senior Project Officer from Zhenro Foundation, introduced its aims to build a professional, transparent and efficient cross-border public welfare platform focused on building the urban community, promoting public service sector, and fostering social innovation in an urban setting.

Lu Lichun, Senior Project Officer, Zhenro Foundation, introducing the foundation

Zhenro aims to curate vision and innovation in the social sector. It has evolved from pure donations to strategic philanthropy nowadays. Its key value consists of “professionalism, efficiency and transparency”.

Zhenro aims to work in partnership with the urban community to build capacity, foster community culture, encourage ownership, and grow sustainably. It acts as an advocate for social welfare, promoting the use of innovative methods (such as crowdfunding) to support projects addressing environmental, children, employment, health, and elderly issues.

To date, Zhenro has completed 4 community projects, funded more than 20 national projects, and worked with over 50 communities to conduct themed dialogue sessions. It has also created the first China Community Development Forum.

Website: http://www.zhenro.cn/

IYouShe Community Cultural Development Centre

Zhang Dalong of IYouShe Community Cultural Development Centre shed light on their country-wide effort in promoting mutual assistance in communities.

IYouShe aims to solve a few key problems in the social sector ecosystem and civil society. These problems included the lack of a platform for participation in social issues, the increasing income inequalities, lack of social capital, inefficient social organisations, and declining moral value in human relations.

To address these challenges, IYouShe offers a diverse range of practical solutions to meet physical, social and emotional needs of people in the community. They launched modern community granary to serve as the charity portal to collect and give non-cash donations. They also ran regular charity bazaars, supplied nutritious soup and organized cultural performances for the elderly. The use of technology is also encouraged – such as the mobile app to facilitate the timely, efficient, and transparent management of granaries.

Going forward, IYouShe wish that some of these sustainable, profitable, socially impactful projects can be replicated and adopted in other urban communities.

More information on IYouShe Community Cultural Development Centre can be found here: http://chinadevelopmentbrief.cn/directory/iyoushe-community-cultural-development-center/

You Will See  

Wang Shuwen of You Will See (SEE) shared his venture that aimed to serve the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.

With a desire to create systemic change that does not merely teach others to fish, but revolutionises the fishing industry, SEE works to serve multiple stakeholders: environmental non-profit organisations, farmer cooperatives, and green business partners. It provides end-to-end guidance for farmers, equipping them to manage their fields, collect data on their harvest, and market and distribute their products more effectively.

A platform for mutual learning and reflection.

Overall, it was a fruitful exchange of ideas and best practices by Chinese social organisations. ACSEP looks forward to future opportunities for mutual exchange and learning with Zhenro, IYouShe, You Will See, and other social purpose organisations.

Zhenro Foundation delegation with the ACSEP team at the NUS Business School.


Crossing the Chasm Challenge 2017

Conceived in 2016, the Crossing the Chasm Challenge (CCC) aims to provide student-driven consulting solutions to enable pioneering social enterprises. These enterprises stand at 2 to 3 years old, and find themselves teetering in the middle of the funding spectrum – being too large for seed-funding, and too small for accelerator grants or impact investors. The Challenge combines students’ youthful energy and the wisdom of marketing experts in multi-national companies to solve significant problems encountered by local and regional social enterprises. Singapore-based enterprises seek to empower and award dignity to marginalised communities, while impactful social enterprises from the ASEAN region seek to alleviate poverty in their local communities (in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines and Thailand).

For the 45 student teams of 147 students, who came from a range of disciplines – global affairs, to engineering, to business – across 5 tertiary institutions, the Challenge gave them an opportunity to work closely with social entrepreneurs, understand the challenges they face, and to offer useful solutions. It also provided a platform for their personal growth. “We want to develop a new generation of business leaders who are not only sensitised to social and environmental concerns but are also trained to engender systemic change where there are market or government failures,” said Professor Lam Swee Sum, Director of the Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy (ACSEP).

The Challenge concluded with a final showcase on 17 August 2017, featuring 3 teams from the Regional Category, and 3 teams from the Local Category. Team Delta Squad took home the prize in the Regional Category, demonstrating the best strategy for Colour Silk to expand their footprint in Southeast Asia. Prizes for top teams, sponsored by Tanoto Foundation, were awarded to both social enterprises and students for their co-created solutions.

Rising to the Challenge


Opening Address delivered by ACSEP Advisory Board Chairman, Keith Chua

These young changemakers were encouraged to rise to the challenge of combatting social problems with a fresh pair of eyes. “You come with no baggage,” remarked ACSEP Advisory Board Chairman Keith Chua in his Opening Address. This freedom from pre-conceived notions of how things ought to be done would allow students to generate relevant solutions in partnership with beneficiary communities. At the same time, exposure to real-world problems through the Challenge aimed to provide an eye-opening reality check for student participants: they are “not going to save the world, but to serve the world,” remarked Ms. Laina Greene, ACSEP Associate Director (Community Development). Armed with the right attitude and adequate contributions, students could help social enterprises become effective to carry out their purpose, said Director of the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme (CTPCLP), Professor Albert Teo – to help “marginalised communities seek agency, empowerment, and the restoration of human dignity”. The spirit of empathy and intrapreneurship instilled in these students through the Challenge, especially the high value placed on collaboration, would point them in the right direction to achieve social impact through partnership.

Collaborate for Impact

Co-creation is the name of the game: social enterprises alongside beneficiaries; students consulting with social enterprises; and two university departments working in partnership with each other. A wide range of local and regional social ventures were featured in this edition of the Challenge – from ethical fashion, fair trade, creative arts as a training platform, to products and services for persons with disabilities. With the help of 29 mentors from the corporate sector, whom student teams were “match-made” with, students came up with relevant solutions to support these social enterprises with their skills. Students were equipped to do this through five workshops on corporate shared values, empathy and social entrepreneurship, the process of consulting, effective presentation structures, topped off with a pitching rehearsal session. This greater pool of resources could be tapped into, thanks to ACSEP’s partnership with CTPCLP in co-organising the Challenge. Through this platform, corporates, social enterprises, and student teams were able to productively support and complement one another.

The Challenge leveraged the strengths of these various change agents to spark active dialogue and conversation. Social enterprises commended the students for their active listening skills, dedication, and creative solutions. Ventures from the Regional category who sought to expand into the Singapore market, such as Cambodia’s The Colour Silk and Laos’ Ma Te Sai, benefited from the data on customer demographics the students were able to compile. This gave them key insights into their priorities for market expansion. Local social enterprises such as Society Staples also benefited from the student teams’ efforts and were able to gain more leads. Mentors were especially encouraging, investing in the teams’ solutions as if it was their own, and being a helpful sounding board for their ideas. Students, on the other hand, benefited deeply in terms of their own growth, learning, and discovering a sense of purpose through serving social enterprises with their gifts.

Crossing Personal Chasms

The “chasms” crossed were certainly not limited to the social enterprises alone. In their own learning and personal development, students crossed personal “chasms” too. For some, such as Victor Zhu (NUS, Quantitative Finance) of Team Hatch, his participation in the Challenge confirmed assumptions of social ventures: he saw that “while social enterprises often operate amongst uncertain and unintuitive landscapes, their successes are nevertheless realistic possibilities”. In addition, students had their paradigms challenged as a result of their encounters with the social entrepreneurs. Business students Cheong Joo Yee (NUS, Marketing and Finance) and Kellin Er (NUS, Marketing and Finance) of Team Spera found themselves confronted with new situations that they had yet to deal with in the business school: evaluating smaller-sized companies with multiple bottom lines. “You have to think about the welfare of the people, as well as the value proposition,” they noted. Significantly, the students gained confidence in themselves. “I learnt a lot – how to research, how to collaborate. After going through the process, I realised I could do it, by having a heart for the social enterprise and contributing my utmost best” said Lucas Tan (NUS, BBA) of team SLZW. Participants had the rich opportunity to learn from their own projects, from other finalists, and other people they met from the social enterprise ecosystem.

Regional Category winners Colour Silk and Team Delta Squad

Local Category winners E & I Concepts and Team Hatch

The journey continues…

For many of the participants, the journey of the Challenge did not end with its completion. Jasmine Tan (NUS, BBA), who participated in the 2016 and 2017 edition of the Challenge, saw the Challenge as an opportunity for her to meaningfully invest in skills-based volunteering. “Usually when we do voluntary work, we are on the frontline, but this time we get to adopt a more top-down approach, in talking to the management team,” she reflected. A number of student teams, such as Team Emerald, who supported Bliss, a local social enterprise restaurant to enable persons with special needs, were keen to continue to be involved in the venture because of the ownership the students developed over the project, and relationships formed with the rest of the team. How far did the Crossing the Chasm Challenge help move social enterprises from one milestone to the next? Only time will tell. However, one thing is certain: the Challenge helped to build bridges for a community of change-agents to move towards long-term sustainable development in this region.

Crossing the Chasm Challenge – a collaborative, creative community

International Symposium on Social Entrepreneurship 2017

This year marks the 3rd of the International Symposium on Social Entrepreneurship (ISSE) since its inaugural in 2015, organised by Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy (ACSEP), NUS Business School. On 21th April, ISSE 2017 provided a platform for academic researchers, social entrepreneurs and various stakeholders to share their knowledge and expertise in the development of social enterprises.

The theme this year, Impact Assessment for Social Enterprises: Contextualisation or Generalisation, is a push towards understanding frameworks to facilitate social investment flows so as to rightly allocate resources to where the expected social impact is the highest.

Before social enterprises can scale up, they need to provide convincing evidence that their activities have a social impact. There exists a wide array of options for social impact assessments, ranging from simple logical frameworks to complex reporting tools and metrics, and from participatory evaluations to randomized control trials. What is the difference among all these approaches – and is there a right approach? Moreover, impact assessment is costly. While some may consider it as a legitimate cost for aiding the enterprises in strategic decision-making, others may feel that it is extra cost and bureaucracy that comes at the expense of the effectiveness of the enterprise.

Our keynote speaker, Professor Fergus Lyon, from the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research, Middlesex University, took the stage with his speech discussing the opportunities and dilemmas of impact assessment for social enterprises.

Professor Fergus Lyon, from the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research, Middlesex University

Following which, a plenary session featuring 5 thought leaders in the social space here in Singapore shared about the usage of impact assessment within their organisations and in their line of business. The general sentiment was that forming networks, sharing knowledge and engaging stakeholders could ultimately prove impact assessment to improve outcomes for beneficiaries.

Plenary Session with Ms Ramandeep Sidhu, Assistant Director of Philanthropy and Partnerships, National Volunteer & Centre (NVPC), Singapore, Mr Alfie Othman, CEO of the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE), Ranchika Ranchan, Head of Funding & Partnerships (Social) of Tote Board Singapore, Ms Tina Huang, Deputy CEO, National Council of Social Service, Singapore and Ms Martina Mettgenberg Lemière, Head of Insights and Capacity Building, Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) (left to right)


With an end to the insightful sharing session, academic researchers from various institutions were invited to present their respective papers. A total of 4 papers were presented, with titles including:

  • A Landscape of Social Impact Assessment Practices among Impact Investors in Asia – Frank Hubers, ACSEP NUS Business School, Singapore
  • Measuring the Social Value Added by social enterprises – A Case Study applying the SIMPLE Methodology – Jim McLoughlin, University of Brighton, UK
  • Reporting in Social Entrepreneurship – Barbara Scheck, Ann-Kristin Achleitner, Alexander Bassen, Wolfgang Spiess-Knafl, Munich Business School, Germany
  • Distinguishing Game Changes from Boastful Charlatans: Which Social Enterprises Measure their Impact? – Karen Maas, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

As the sessions came to a close, the key takeaway from the day was that there is a need for greater understanding of how organisations can demonstrate their impact and a need for a common language on impact assessment. Indeed, funders tend to have more say in driving this common language and the allocation of the right resources to the right place would maximize the social impact brought about by social enterprises.

The ISSE 2017 Proceedings can be downloaded here.

The Peak Power List 2016

peakThe Peak, Luxury lifestyle magazine, honoured 10 Philanthropists and social entrepreneurs in its 2016 Power List. We are very delighted to note that ACSEP’s Advisory Board Chairman, Mr Keith Chua, is one of the honourees.

Mr Keith Chua is the executive chairman of ABR Holdings and trustee of Mrs Lee Choon Guan Trust Fund. He believes strongly in the need to research philanthropy in the context of the local society and culture to propel the future of giving. Through the trust, Mr Chua donated $40,000 to seven charities including Care Corner Family Service Centre (Admiralty), Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore and New Life Community Services. It is also heartwarming to note his dedication to the support of non-profit Children of Cambodia to reduce infant mortality in Cambodia since 2012, by building a neonatal ward and encouraging the sharing of medical expertise.

Mr Chua markedly invested in the need for philanthropy to keep up with the times. Recognizing significant interest in philanthropy among the younger generation in Singapore and the region, he initiated the idea of introducing philanthropy as a subject of mainstream study at university level to support and encourage greater engagement and integration of philanthropy in young minds.

“Many Asian countries today are still looking to research done in the Western world. But there’s perhaps value and opportunity to research philanthropy in the context of our society and culture. It will help us better understand how philanthropy is unfolding in this current phase of our economic and political development.” ~Keith Chua

Mr Chua’s interest culminated in an initial $1.5 million donation to support the establishment of the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy in 2009 (later renamed Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy, or ACSEP, in 2011). ACSEP has conducted multifaceted studies which have proven to bring tangible value to local organizations. For example, The Community Foundation of Singapore, where Chua is a board member, regularly taps into ACSEP’s research to better direct its programmes to help wealthy donors undertake philanthropy journeys.

Looking forward, ACSEP is conducting a large-scale study of the last 200 years of philanthropy in Singapore from 1819-2019, which Mr Chua believes will offer strategic insight into how philanthropy can continue to be practised here. He envisions philanthropy to be a practice that will grow very quickly in the coming years and hopes that even more efforts would be made to attract groups within the philanthropic eco-system to help them move forward in their giving journey.

“To give away money is an easy matter and in any man’s power.” Aristotle said. However, effecting change through the best means possible is no simple task. Indeed, the contributions of Mr Chua and the other social change advocates reflect the true spirit of philanthropy in collectively building a sustainable future for the public good.

Thank you, for helping us to make the world a better place.

Once again, Congratulations, Mr Keith Chua!

Do people really know what a Social Enterprise is? Public Perception Survey 2016

The Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE) commissioned the Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy (ACSEP) at NUS Business School to conduct a Public Perception Study in 2016. The survey covered awareness and understanding of social enterprises, purchase behaviour, and the motivations for buying from social enterprises.

It was heartening to note the large increase of 52% in public awareness of social enterprise, since 2010. Working towards the targeted sample size of 2,000 respondents, a questionnaire was conducted where 1,888 valid responses were received.

Increased Public Awareness of Social Enterprises (SEs)


Understanding of social enterprises has also grown, with seven out of 10 respondents being able to correctly categorise at least one of three social enterprises in the survey questionnaire. A key highlight of public perception of the top three social goals in Singapore focused on the most needy groups in the community, relating to people with disabilities, people/families with low income, and people with health conditions.

To drive continuous improvement and further growth in the sector, stakeholders are called upon to work on action plans. In particular, raiSE would serve as a main driver for raising public awareness of social enterprises, helping with funding, and providing advisory/training.

Social Enterprises

  • Increase their competitiveness through innovations to improve the quality of existing products and create new and unique products.
  • Ensure they champion social causes that resonate with the public perception of greatest social needs.
  • Differentiate themselves from traditional businesses, train social entrepreneurs in branding and marketing their enterprises to the public.


  • Step up public communication efforts to increase awareness of raiSE and enhance understanding of social enterprises and their twin goals of doing good while making a profit. Adopt a multipronged approach, taking into consideration the changed media environment where communication has become increasingly conversational (two-way) and centred around credible influencers and passionate advocates.
  • Provide consulting/training to help build the capabilities of social enterprises.
  • Collaborate with media to highlight the efforts of social enterprises and the challenges they face while working to address social needs in the community.

Indeed, such a study offered valuable insights on how public perception of the social enterprise sector and buying behaviour have changed since the 2010 survey. While there have been stark advancements in awareness and understanding of social enterprises, this study propels us to consider emerging challenges in the buying behaviour of the public. With appropriate emphasis on the quality and uniqueness of the products or services offered and the social cause they represent, the sector could potentially be propelled to greater heights.

The full and summary reports can be downloaded here:

Full Report
Summary Report

News Reports:


Singapore Business Review


Lianhe Zao Bao

World News


Wild Singapore

Local News Singapore

65 Singapore

Crossing the Chasm Final

The Crossing the Chasm Final, held on the 16th of September, was the culmination of hard work on the part of the organisers and participants. The final saw the presentation of marketing plans by our 5 finalists, namely Team iChange, Team Social Innovators, Team The Glass Half Full, Team BMY and Team Krakakoa.

Each team was given 15 minutes to impress the judges and audience with their marketing plans for their respective social enterprises. All the teams put up astounding presentations that reflect the depth of their thoughts and the countless reiterations that the challenge entailed. The impressive work put up by all the teams made it very hard for the judges to decide on the winners.

As the judges deliberated over their decisions, the audience was treated to an insightful sharing by Mrs Dinny Jusuf, the founder of Toraja Melo, on the ups and downs of running a social enterprise. Mrs Dinny also reminded us that being a social entrepreneur may not be for everyone, but everyone can certainly generate ripples of change in their own way. Following Mrs Dinny’s sharing, A/Prof Albert Teo, the director of the Chua Thian Poh Leadership Programme, took the stage with a single but important message – that empathy is indispensable in our effort of generating change. A/Prof Teo’s message prompted us to reflect on our life values and their indelible impact on others.

With an end to an inspiring sharing session, the judges were then invited in to announce the winners of the challenge. Team iChange emerged the champion, earning their partnering social enterprise SDI Academy and the team of S$30,000 and S$12,000 in prize money respectively. Meanwhile, Team Krakakoa emerged as the people’s choice awardee and the runner-up, benefitting their partnering social enterprise Krakakoa and the team a total of S$22,500 and S$10,500 respectively. All prizes were generously donated by the Tanoto Foundation and will go a long way in extending the social impact of the winning enterprises.

As Crossing the Chasm Final came to a close, a general sense of optimism filled the air. It was very heartening to witness the passion that our future business leaders share in effecting positive social change. It gave us immense hope for the future and most importantly, it left us thinking – what else can we do to leave the world a better place?






Crossing the Chasm Challenge Finals Preparation Workshop

CCC Workshop 2016 (Web-Size)-180 CCC Workshop 2016 (Web-Size)-39 CCC Workshop 2016 (Web-Size)-86 CCC Workshop 2016 (Web-Size)-181 CCC Workshop 2016 (Web-Size)-131CCC Workshop 2016 (Web-Size)-46On 25 August 2016, the five finalist teams of Crossing the Chasm Challenge 2016 attended the Finals Preparation Workshop led by Tom Kosnik, lecturer from Stanford University and consulting professor for the National University of Singapore Overseas Colleges (NOC) program in Silicon Valley.

Crossing the Chasm Challenge 2016 is an inaugural competition jointly organized by students and the Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship & Philanthropy (ACSEP) where students team up and work alongside partner social enterprises to co-create a marketing strategy and pitch.

Having been through months of ideation and execution with their mentors and partnered social enterprises, the finalist teams presented their work to Tom who then provided them with valuable feedback, in preparation for the finals to be held on 16 September 2016.

All the teams benefitted from Tom’s detailed guidance on presentation content and techniques, from the sequencing of their slides to their presentation styles.

Team Kakoa who worked with social enterprise Kakoa—a bean-to-bar chocolate company which aimed to empower cocoa farmers and sustainable farming practices while providing high-quality chocolate products—were commended for their ability to better position the company’s products through a revised packaging of chocolate bars, reflecting the stories of the farmers.

To further enhance their proposition, Tom suggested the team to conduct up-close communication with the farmers to better appreciate the nuances of their stories.

While greatly impressed with the range of strategies Team Social Innovators had employed to help their social enterprise, The Fabric Social, Tom advised the team to reduce the words in their slides to better draw the audience’s attention to their key issues and solutions.

As the workshop was also the first time the finalists presented their works to one another, it provided an opportunity for the teams to learn from one another and understand the challenges confronting the other social enterprises.

The workshop concluded with Tom’s presentation on “How to present your Marketing Plans and Pitches to the Judges of the Crossing the Chasm Challenge (CCC 2016)”, providing the finalists with insights to help them in their preparation for the finals.

The finals of Crossing the Chasm Challenge 2016 will be held on 16 September 2016 at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House.

 The five finalist teams and their partnered social enterprises are:

  • Team iChange, SDI Academy
  • Team Social Innovators, The Fabric Social
  • Team The Glass Half Full, Bayani Brew
  • Team BMY, Empower Generation
  • Team Kakoa, Kakoa

ACSEP Chairman Mr Keith Chua’s Closing Speech on the Singapore Early Women Philanthropists Research Seminar

closing speech photoA warm thank you to ACSEP Chairman Mr Keith Chua for gracing our Singapore’s Early Women Philanthropists (1900-1945) Research Seminar on Friday, 10 June 2016. Below is his closing speech.

Ladies and gentlemen. A very good afternoon to everyone and thank you for joining us today at the launch of the ACSEP paper entitled ‘Singapore’s Early Women Philanthropists 1900 – 1945’.

I have found it a truly commendable work of research by Ms Ooi Yu Lin. It provides us with valuable historical information and documentation – much of which I believe has not been previously collated and presented in the context of a study of philanthropy.

The study of Women in philanthropy is unique given that today the more common gender associated with philanthropy in Singapore seems to be with Men. Look around you at the buildings and halls around us in NUS and the names that are on them. Most of these names are male philanthropists.

In building our continuing research on philanthropy in Singapore this paper will be an important study.

Yu Lin has documented within the limits of archival and other means how Women at the turn of the last Century contributed in pioneering ways toward the development of Singapore philanthropy – and looking back it would seem to have had some degree of lasting impact. The Chinese Women’s Association which started as the Chinese Ladies Association celebrated her 100th Anniversary in 2015.

Women in Singapore philanthropy has been an unspoken but important segment of philanthropic history. It becomes even more amazing when we have this with understanding of the social, political and economic trends of that period. The place of the woman in 1900 is not easy to fully grasp for those of us brought up in modern Singapore.  Yu Lin’s paper also affirms that the practice of philanthropy cuts across race and religion, across all social and economic strata.

I first approached Yu Lin to join ACSEP research with a much wider ask. I had known of her interest in some areas of philanthropy and her work researching the Peranakan culture and history. In further discussion I then realized the extent of work that she had been progressively researching for many years. The project I had in mind was 200 years of philanthropy in Singapore’s history. The dates would be 1819 to 2019 which would imply that we would be actively engaging this for a few more years before the grand masterpiece is completed.

She eventually chose a bite size part of this story that has remained unwritten until today. This paper and another ACSEP paper that we released at the end of 2015 entitled ‘Philanthropy on the Road to Nationhood in Singapore’ will form key portions of this larger research project. I welcome all of you to partner us at ACSEP as we continue research and documenting 200 years of philanthropy in Singapore.

Let me mention a couple of more recent philanthropic models that Yu Lin’s paper documents has already been in practice 100 years ago. One is the concept of Giving Circles. In the past 10 years there has been an increase in many creative and impactful initiatives through the formation of active giving circles. Giving circles is a helpful framework for persons with interest in a particular area to pool resources for greater impact. The Women 100 years ago had already seen this as they launched appeals and pooled resources.

Secondly, I continue to carry the hope that ACSEP will be able to help shape and develop in a meaningful way the proposition that everyone in Singapore can give. This was one of the intentions when we launched a subject in the Business School that promoted the practice of philanthropy. A course that would engage students in learning by giving. Yu Lin has very helpfully featured the practice of giving by the Majie in our community. Again 100 years ago we discover that it did not matter which economic strata you were in – you could still embrace and practice philanthropy.

Philanthropy is indeed a practice that all of us can engage in. Whether we are giving time or resources, we can all be actively engaged in love for others driven by human compassion and care.

I look forward to seeing you at our next ACSEP gathering. Once again join me in congratulating Yu Lin for an excellent paper and also in thanking the team at ACSEP for keeping up the good work toward a better and more caring society.