Singapore: Healthy, organic, nutritious Jasberry™ rice, provides Thai farmers 14 times higher income than growing regular rice; A one-stop platform with content to help disabled individuals live well; A sugarcane planter that improves planting efficiency by 80%; These are some of the innovative solutions developed by winners of the 2016 DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia (SVC Asia) that have the potential to improve lives around the world.
SVC Asia is a business plan challenge that identifies and supports new social ventures that demonstrate positive, scalable and sustainable social impact within the region. The competition is co-organised by DBS Foundation and NUS Enterprise, and is open to members of the public. This is the third consecutive year of the challenge, which is supported by the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raISE) and Syngenta. The 2016 winners were awarded a total of $175,000 in seed funding and grants:
Mr Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever, gave out the Grand and Jury Prizes at the awards ceremony, as well as delivered the keynote address. See Annex 1 for more details on the 2016 SVC Asia winners.
This year’s SVC Asia received 1,027 entries from 32 countries, with the top countries being India (27%), Indonesia (19%), Singapore (14%) and China (11%). Business ideas ranged across different sectors, including education (19%), agriculture (17%), healthcare/ sanitation (12%), energy/ environment (12%) and web/ mobile (9%). Most teams were at an early stage, with 72% of the entries being at the idea, prototype or pilot stage, while the remaining 28% were ventures at the operational or growth stage.
“Over the past three years, we have been building a community of social entrepreneurs and capacity builders, to raise awareness on social entrepreneurship across Asia. This year, SVC Asia hit over 1,000 entries – two and a half times greater than the entries when we first started this challenge in 2014 – demonstrating the growing interest in this area. The quality of ideas has also improved, with many teams focusing on development needs faced in their countries. Some of these ideas will scale to address pressing social problems in Asia,” said Professor Wong Poh Kam, Director, NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, which is part of NUS Enterprise. Prof Wong chaired the judging panel for the final round of SVC Asia 2016.
Said Karen Ngui, Head of DBS Group Strategic Marketing & Communications and Board Member of the DBS Foundation, “SVC Asia is fast becoming a powerful platform to identify and nurture up-and-coming social enterprises from the region. It is particularly heartening to see many entrepreneurs who not only are passionate about addressing social issues – but who are also innovative and savvy with the use of technology. In addition to the prize monies totaling S$175,000, we hope to build a holistic support ecosystem for budding social enterprises by providing mentorship, networking, access to marketplace and impact funding.”
SVC Asia 2016 was held from March to September 2016. Over the past six months, participants received support and education through social enterprise workshops and online resources. This equipped them with tools to test and get feedback on their business ideas. The top 12 semi-finalists were flown to Singapore for coaching, mentoring and judging in mid-September 2016. The panel of judges made their decision based on the strength of the teams’ value proposition, social impact, market potential and economic/ financial model.
The 2016 SVC Asia introduced two new awards – the Syngenta Agriculture Social Enterprise award for the best social enterprise and the best use of technology and innovation for agriculture. These awards aim to recognise social enterprises with innovative business models in agriculture that can bring benefits to farmers and rural economies in Asia.
“The Awards complement the ambition of our Good Growth Plan to create positive impacts for rural communities through our operations,” said Mr Andrew McConville, Head of Corporate Affairs, Syngenta Asia Pacific. “We are proud to champion the Agriculture Social Enterprise Awards and support enterprises that share a common goal of seeking to help address the many complex challenges faced by farmers and society in achieving sustainable food security.”
Details on SVC Asia 2016 can be found at http://socialventurechallenge.asia
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