In the wee hours, more than 400 passionate social entrepreneurs made their way to the Social Enterprise Conference 2014. In its 4th year running, the conference aims to bring together social enterprises, creating a community for learning and improvement. The 2014 edition focuses on the theme “Past Successes and Failures: Reflections For Improved Impact”.
Kicking it off was an introduction by Dr. Ngin Chanrith, director of graduate program in development studies, RUPP. He noted, “It is important for us to draw lessons on what has worked and what needs to be improved for a higher impact,” and cited that as the aim of this year’s conference.
One of the parallel sessions in the afternoon showcased 8 different social enterprises.
A few of these were:
Picosol works to empower rural Cambodia using solar energy with a myriad of activities. They conduct solar workshops for children to educate them about solar energy. Children get to fix together their own Tournesol, a DIY sunflower that contains a solar cell. When under the sun, the Tournesol will spin. Picosol aims to have these children bring the Tournesols home and spread the word on solar energy to their family members as well. Besides this, Picosol also installs Solar Home Systems and organises roadshows.
A boy experimenting with Picosol’s Tournesol.
SGFE (Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise) produced 100% recycled char-briquettes for cooking to improve the air quality and decrease deforestation. They manufacture their no smell no smoke charcoal using organic waste such as coconut shells. This eradicates the negative effects that traditional cooking smoke brings. It also improves waste management in urban areas. SGFE works with the PSE Institute to provide factory jobs for families in extreme poverty.
SGFE’s efficiently-sized char-briquettes.
Soksabike conducts educational tours on bicycles in Battambang, and allows tourists to visit and interact with the local communities. This reduces pollution as the whole tour is conducted on bicycles, and establishes a deeper connection between tourists and local Cambodian families. Soksabike will give a portion of the earnings from the tour to these families who open their houses, and it will overall contribute to Battambang’s economic growth.
Workshops were conducted on how to find investors and validating a business model, all of which proved to be useful for those starting up a business. In a session by Ms. Shuyin Tang of LGTVP, attendees learnt how to deliver a great pitch, and were given tips on how to engage and persuade potential investors. Ms. Sopheak Sun of Young Startups taught on how to create a value proposition for their business, to identify why their customers should be interested in the business.
In the session “Designing Collaborative Technology For Social Good”, participants learnt about Resource Map, a tool by InSTEDD that makes it easy for remote workers to report data. This non-electronic tool is so simple to use that even those with literacy problems can handle it.
Closing off the conference was Ms. Grace Sai, Co-Founder of The HUB Singapore and fellow social entrepreneur. She wanted to change the general mindset that there is barely any money for investment in the social enterprise sector. She introduced the 100% Impact Network, “A global peer-to-peer network of asset owners who have intentionally committed 100% of their assets to positive social and/or environmental impact.”
If you use entrepreneurial approaches innovative solutions to solve society’s most pressing problems, Grace says that you can consider yourself a social entrepreneur.
Overall, the 4th National Social Enterprise Conference proved to be extremely educational. Not to mention that everyone had an amazing time!