SINGAPORE: The new Ministry of Social and Family Development will provide better support for social enterprises, Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Halimah Yacob, said.
This includes more training and helping social enterprises develop their capabilities.
MINDS Social Enterprise was started 12 years ago to create an alternative avenue of employment for its clients. But there are challenges in keeping the business sustainable.
CEO of MINDS, Mr Keh Eng Siong, said: "Our social enterprise actually started from a sheltered workshop, so starting from there, the people that we have are really not the type of people who are suited for social enterprise, in the sense that, we don’t have people who are good at marketing, we don’t have people who can do product development or even business development.
"So this is something that we recognise that we are pretty lacking at the moment and of course we are trying to develop.
"We actually employed a couple of people that are not traditionally from a sheltered workshop. (At a) Sheltered workshop you employ people like training officers. So a marketing officer, a business development officer, are definitely not in the business model that we are being funded for.
"So these are capabilities that we need to build on. And of course, it would be very good if we can be funded for such positions, right now we are still doing it out of our own funds.
The new Ministry of Social and Family Development hopes to address such challenges when it is established in November, Madam Halimah said during a visit to MINDS.
"The new ministry will allow us to give a sharper focus on supporting social enterprises. This is obviously one very important area of our work. They also need some support in training and capability development, that’s what we will do. And then in terms of funding.
"We already have a lot of funding schemes but they might not be aware of it. Thirdly, I think most important is marketing, so we see a lot of good products being developed, but the marketing skills might not be there," she shared.
Madam Halimah said there’s a need to channel the products to where the demand is.
And she said the support of companies will also be critical.
"I would like them to see this as CSR, corporate social responsibility. That it’s not just a question of the bottom line, but rather that this is an element of corporate social responsibility that companies can do," she said.
There are currently about 170 social enterprises in Singapore.
And it’s hoped this number will continue to grow in the future.
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