Have a brilliant idea? You can use it to make a difference

From far left: Mr Vincent Loka, Mr Lim Chong Tee and Mr David Pong are part of the team behind local start-up WateROAM, which designs portable water-filtration systems. WateROAM was one of the groups featured as part of the project last year.
From far left: Mr Vincent Loka, Mr Lim Chong Tee and Mr David Pong are part of the team behind local start-up WateROAM, which designs portable water-filtration systems. WateROAM was one of the groups featured as part of the project last year. ST FILE PHOTO

Terrorist attacks, climate change, shocks in the market - reading the papers may leave you feeling overwhelmed or even depressed, with the news often dominated by pressing problems worldwide.

This June, however, a special supplement will zoom in on the solutions - and you can be a part of it.

For the fourth year in a row, The Straits Times will be participating in Impact Journalism Day, which falls on June 25 this year.

The idea is for the media to not only inform readers about the many challenges, but also to inspire them by featuring innovative solutions to these problems.

If you are working on a project that offers a creative solution to a local or global issue, write in to the Paris-based organiser Sparknews at www.tellsparknews.com by Feb 26.

Your project must be up and running, and can be run by an individual, a company or an organisation.

It can be an initiative that helps the needy in your neighbourhood, an idea that improves the lives of people beyond Singapore, or a brilliant invention that has the potential to make a global impact.

Sparknews is led by a group of individuals with a mission to make an impact and improve the world through the reports they put out.

Shortlisted projects will be featured in The Straits Times and other participating media outlets.

This year, 55 publications from around the world have come on board, up from 40 newspapers which took part last year. They include French daily Le Figaro, The Asahi Shimbun from Japan and USA Today.

Said ST Editor Warren Fernandez: "These supplements have thrown up stories, like the one we featured on The Mothers of Light project, which supplies affordably priced solar lamps to village women in Riau, Indonesia.

"After it was featured, many Straits Times readers wrote to the group offering to sponsor lamps. One couple wanted to donate a dozen lamps to a Nepalese monastery, while another group bought about 30 lamps to help flood victims in Kelantan.

"Those who were featured told us that the Impact coverage helped increase the visibility of their efforts. Readers, too, said they enjoyed finding out about groups who were making an impact. That is why we have decided to keep at this."

Other Singapore groups featured as part of the project last year agreed that the publicity had helped their work.

One of them, local start-up WateROAM, even found a volunteer from Lebanon.

The social enterprise, started by four schoolmates from the National University of Singapore, designs portable water-filtration systems - the lightest one, which looks like a plastic bag, weighs no more than 300g.

Its chief executive David Pong, 26, said: "We have managed to reach a truly international audience, thanks to the coverage. More customers and supporters have approached us.

"In the second half of last year, we have been able to help another 13,000 people affected by disasters like the Nepal earthquake, and floods in Myanmar and Chennai.

"We even got a new intern from Lebanon, who read a translation of the report about us in the Lebanese newspaper, L'Orient-Le-Jour.

"He was so inspired by it that when he came to Singapore to pursue his studies, he looked us up and said he wanted to help."

Another company, T. Jacket, also benefited from the publicity.

T. Jacket is a deep-touch pressure vest that uses air bags inside it to simulate a hug for its wearers. It helps those with conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder and dementia, cope with their anxieties.

Said its chief executive James Teh, 34: "The international coverage definitely helped in terms of spreading our work to more countries.

"We have started a new partnership with local therapy service provider SG Rehab, as well as a potential trial in Hong Kong and a distributor in Norway."

Correction Note: An earlier version of this story stated that Sparknews is led by a group of journalists. The sentence has been corrected.


• To share your project, go to www.tellsparknews.com by Feb 26.


• For more information, go to http://str.sg/Zj68

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2016, with the headline 'Have a brilliant idea? You can use it to make a difference'. Print Edition | Subscribe