Social enterprise festival helps raiSE awareness

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin speaking to Shawn Tan (second from left), who is on a work attachment with Flour Power, a bakery that trains people with special needs. With them are Ms Lena Ng, Flour Power's head, NTUC FairPr
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin speaking to Shawn Tan (second from left), who is on a work attachment with Flour Power, a bakery that trains people with special needs. With them are Ms Lena Ng, Flour Power's head, NTUC FairPrice CEO Seah Kian Peng (third from left), raiSE executive director Alfie Othman (background) and Ms Ng's nephew, Caleb Ng (right).ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Inaugural event aims to spread the word on businesses that do good

She was a high-flier in corporate marketing, but a year ago, Ms Lena Ng gave her career up for something even better.

"I've wanted to help people for a long time, but I got caught up in the rat race. I had to take a step back and decide what I wanted to do," she said.

The self-taught baker, 37, now heads Flour Power, a bakery which trains people with special needs in baking and other skills.

Eighteen-year-old Shawn Tan, a student at the Grace Orchard School which caters to those with mild intellectual disability and mild autism, is on a four-month work attachment with Flour Power. Said his mother, associate marketing director Wong Mah Li, 51: "We are thankful for the opportunities at Flour Power that have challenged the extent of Shawn's capabilities."

Flour Power was one of 50 social enterprises participating in FestivalForGood, Singapore's first festival for social enterprises this weekend.

 

  • 200

    Number of jobs social enterprises under raiSE have created

    3,000

    Number of people social enterprises under raiSE have helped

Organised by the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE), the two-day festival, which ends today, aims to increase awareness of social enterprises here. Such businesses are created to do good in a financially sustainable way. Other participants included Ageless Bicyclists, which aims to create bicycles and mobility devices for the disabled, and Project Dignity Kitchen, a hawker training school for the disadvantaged.

More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the festival.

Social enterprises under raiSE have created more than 200 jobs and helped over 3,000 people, said Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin at the event's launch yesterday, at JTC LaunchPad @ one-north in Ayer Rajah.

He added: "There are many ways that you could contribute, from purchasing from social enterprises to helping spread the word and inviting others to learn more about the social enterprises sector."

Mr Tan gave the example of how Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's wife Ho Ching had taken a dinosaur pouch designed by an autistic Pathlight School student on a recent state visit to the United States. This helped publicise the school's retail arm The Art Faculty, which sells products designed by people with autism, he pointed out.

Ms Amy Lim, sector engagement manager for raiSE, said that though the social enterprises sector is growing and becoming more vibrant and diverse, people are not aware of many enterprises. Events such as the FestivalForGood could change that, she said. The festival also marked the launch of the #partofthegood movement, which aims to get more people and organisations to support social enterprises.

As part of its efforts to support the sector, raiSE - which counts more than 300 social enterprises as members - will hold its second Singapore Social Enterprise conference in October.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 21, 2016, with the headline 'Social enterprise festival helps raiSE awareness'. Print Edition | Subscribe