More like-minded Singaporeans are coming together to set-up cooperatives rather than rely on help from government or charities.
Many are setting-up profit-making businesses, with a social mission.
For seniors, the fast-paced nature of commercial tour packages can be exhausting and that’s where Silver Horizon, a cooperative that designs elderly-friendly travel packages, comes in.
Their itineraries are slower-paced with a focus on forging new friendships.
“Travel which is not at the moment present in the market because it is not focused currently on seniors and for the relaxation of seniors, the pace and the bonding session,” explained Helen Lim, a founding member of Silver Horizon.
Ms Lim added that Silver Horizon’s wish is to see seniors from the lowest income brackets take their first trip out of Singapore.
“We would like to use the profit to help another group of seniors in the society. These are people that we know have never even owned a passport.”
Silver Horizon is neither a charity nor a commercial company.
The Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF) has defined it as a social enterprise, based on self and mutual help, formed by members to serve members.
Dolly Goh, the SNCF’s CEO, said such social good is becoming an increasingly popular business model.
“Within these two years, we have seen a 150 per cent increase in submission of business plans among the young. The trends of cooperatives formation follow the social needs of Singapore – the ageing population, the low income, the senior citizens and people with special needs.”
Ms Goh said to start a cooperative, at least 10 members are needed as well as drafting a five-year business plan and by-laws.
“It is not difficult to start up a cooperative because SNCF will assist you. We teach you how to do your cash flow, your P&L and also help to walk you through what it takes to start up a business.”
There are now 85 cooperatives in Singapore, which have touched the lives of 1.7 million people.
And for those who endeavour to start an enterprise with a difference, a cooperative could be a model worth pursuing.
This article was first published in CNA