SINGAPORE - The social enterprise sector in Singapore has grown and gained momentum, but it needs to be adaptable to the disruptions in today's economy.
"To stay relevant, social enterprises need to switch business practices or adopt new technologies quickly to respond to the changing dynamics of business today," said President Halimah Yacob on Thursday (Oct 18) at the President's Challenge Social Enterprise Networking Event 2018.
The President's Challenge is an annual community outreach and fund-raising campaign.
Thursday's event, at Marina One, brought together stakeholders in the sector, such as corporate businesses and social enterprises.
Social enterprises allow people to make a positive impact on society while conducting business, and have over the years expanded beyond the retail sector to include the arts, health and wellness.
Madam Halimah noted that many social enterprises do recognise the need to adapt, and are leading the way in the new economy.
She cited Homage, a "user-friendly and effective" app which connects caregivers with those in need of care.
Based on a model of the sharing economy, the local firm has raised US$4.15 million in private funding this year to enhance its care programmes and reach.
She added that corporations and individuals both have a role to play in boosting the social enterprise sector.
"The partnership between corporates and social enterprises is a new way of social giving. Corporate leaders can give sustainable support through investments and acquisitions, incorporating social enterprises into your operations, or simple by procuring from them."
Individual customers can also contribute by getting goods and services.
"If all consumers became conscious consumers, we might even dare to imagine that all businesses would become social enterprises in the long-run," said the president.
The President's Challenge has worked with the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE) since 2015, to recognise outstanding social enterprises.
In the past three years, enterprises supported by raiSE have employed over 850 beneficiaries and served about 150,000 others, said Madam Halimah.
"Social enterprises have demonstrated that it is possible to combine the twin drivers of business growth and achieving social impact. As we continue to raise the credibility of Singapore's social enterprises, we would like to see more corporates participate in the sector's growth for a more inclusive and caring society for all Singaporeans," said raiSE chief executive officer Alfie Othman.