Social enterprises play important role in helping vulnerable during Covid-19 pandemic: Masagos

Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli noted that the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise's StayUnited Grant has helped to save 83 jobs of vulnerable persons.
Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli noted that the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise's StayUnited Grant has helped to save 83 jobs of vulnerable persons.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Social enterprises play an important role in helping vulnerable groups, especially during a time of crisis like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, during which they are hit harder than most, said Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli on Saturday (Oct 24).

To help social enterprises during this period, 19 of them have received funding support for the next two years from the Government through the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise's StayUnited Grant, which has helped to save 83 jobs of vulnerable persons, he added.

Mr Masagos, who was speaking at the FestivalForGood2020, said the grant, which was introduced in March, helps eligible social enterprises sustain their operations and develop products to address social gaps.

"As entities operating in the social-economic nexus, social enterprises are also well-placed to develop and scale innovative, long-term solutions to meet the needs and social challenges of our time," said Mr Masagos.

He cited the example of social enterprise Spic & Span, which specialises in cleaning technology and employs marginalised and vulnerable Singaporeans.

During the circuit breaker period, the company developed a proprietary anti-bacterial coating to disinfect surfaces for up to six months. It also provided subsidised disinfectant services of up to $250,000 in value, said Mr Masagos.

"By adapting its business, Spic & Span managed to double its revenue in the past few months," he added.

Meanwhile, another social enterprise known as Findjobs worked with agencies such as the National Trades Union Congress' Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to help jobseekers find suitable jobs during the circuit breaker period.

The company also halved the cost of its hiring and placement services for employers to encourage hiring in a fair and inclusive manner, said Mr Masagos.

The minister noted that more than 70 per cent of respondents in the recent Public Perception Survey of Social Enterprises said that they are aware of social enterprises and what they do - an increase from the 65 per cent in 2016.

But the survey also found that the public is also more inclined to consider the price and quality of goods when buying from social enterprises, he added.

As a result, it is challenging for social enterprises to achieve their social goals while also remaining competitive and financially viable.

"Social enterprises which manage to succeed and scale, can model the way for the broader society and economy, by showing that we can do good even as we do well," said Mr Masagos.