What kind of opportunity does Singapore’s Budget 2017 bring for social entrepreneurs?
What can and should we consider as we design for good in Singapore this year?
The unique genetic make-up for social enterprises draw attention to the political will injected into both the profit and nonprofit sector. This year, the emphasis seems to proportionately land on both, and this opens up a good, cross-sectional window for local social enterprises to venture, adapt and improve their capacity along the waves of Budget 2017.
1. Nonprofit: The Social of Social Enterprise
According to the Budget 2017, the Government has been gearing towards a comprehensive approach to bridge domestic gaps.
In a bid to empower the disabled community, more have been invested in enhancing the employability of the disabled community. A larger group of beneficiaries are now eligible to sign up for training programmes and courses for the relevant skills to embark on their own future careers.
Furthermore, the eco-system thought of the unsung warriors as well. A disability caregiver support centre will be set up so as to foster an inclusive network of assistance and community support.
More attention will also be given to mental health services as they are said to be available at polyclinics. This heightens the accessibility of professional care and reduces the age-old stigma that mental illnesses carry.
In addition, there is more awareness and sensitivity towards the creation of environments for our aging population since last year. More dementia-friendly communities are said to be set up, with the National Council for Social Services (NCSS) spearheading projects to integrate those with mental health issues back into the workplace and society.
2. Profit: The Enterprise of Social Enterprise
Social businesses aim for sustainability. Profit-making is important to them for they need to be financially independent to create lasting social impact. Every year, they need to develop (or at least maintain) capacity to enhance quality goods and/or services so that they can hold their ground in the common marketplace.
According to the Budget 2017, there are three keys that most enterprises require – the ability to use digital technology, embrace innovation, and scale up.
Catering to specific technological needs of individual SMEs, this budgeting decision is designed to meet enterprises where they are. For example, the more digitally advanced firms can get specialist advice from the SME Technology Hub. This comes across as a opportune moment for social enterprises to equip themselves with the relevant digital technology so as to increase efficiency and streamline processes.
The next point is scalability. The ability for local enterprises to scale up globally is vital in maximising the capacity of the economy, and this is especially true in our Singaporean context of trade-oriented growth.
Needless to say, social enterprises can amplify their impact to a larger audience of beneficiaries in other countries when they scale up. The local landscape of social entrepreneurship needs to go further in order to heighten its sustainability, for only then can Singapore step up to become an impact investment hub across the region.
Social enterprises with the right set of skills and capacity to scale up should harness the platform fostered by the Government’s development of a smart financing ecosystem, as up to $600 million in Government capital has been set for a new International Partnership Fund.
Furthermore, IE Singapore’s Internationalisation Finance Scheme will also be enhanced to further support growth in this sector. This seeks to support more enterprises to embark on projects beyond the nation.
With both sides of the coin turning to our favour, how can we compass our direction as we seek to design and redesign ideas, spaces, relationships, lives and communities for good?
Lam, L. (2017, February 20). Singapore budget 2017: 7 things about budget plans for disabled, mental health issues. The Straits Times. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/singapore-budget-2017-7-things-about-budget-plans-for-disabled-mental-health-issues
Singapore Budget 2017. (2017, February 20). Retrieved February 27, 2017, from http://www.singaporebudget.gov.sg/data/budget_2017/download/FY2017_Budget_Statement.pdf