The long, hard journey of social enterprises

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Ms Chng of Bettr Barista (above) and Dr Keng with the IDeaf-Connect team both believe that the government should look to countries where the SE sector is more developed and learn from them

SOCIAL entrepreneurship seems to be catching on of late, with more Singaporean entrepreneurs setting up businesses that care about more than just profits. But it’s no cushy ride for start-ups with second or third bottom lines.

One important issue is that while awareness is increasing, the man in the street still does not know the difference between a social enterprise (SE) and a charity. According to a survey commissioned by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) in 2010, 87 per cent of those polled did not know what an SE was. Of those who did know, slightly less than half thought that the objective of an SE was to raise donations, instead of applying business strategies to achieve social, cultural or environmental goals.

That is why Richardo Chua, founder of four-year-old Adrenalin Events and Education, is grateful for the President’s Challenge Social Enterprise Award that was established in March to raise awareness of SEs and encourage growth in the sector.

He believes that because the President’s Challenge is a national platform and is social-enterprise-centric, the awards will raise awareness for the industry as a whole and provide scrutiny and credibility to SEs.

This article was first published in The Business TimesĀ