Singapore has recently been ranked second in the 2017 World Smart Cities Index, thanks to its thriving business ecosystem, urban planning and its efforts towards clean energy. But the younger lot of Singapore, who are socially conscious, has a major contribution in its sustainable growth and addressing social issues.While many start-ups from India as well as other nations are relocating their base to Singapore, DNA managed to meet some of the young social entrepreneurs (Singaporeans and Indians), who are changing the shape of the country. Some of the most interesting social enterprises range from school of concepts to a socially conscious salon to an ex-cop who transformed an ex-convicts life, and the list goes on.Sruthi Sadanand, from Chennai, who is currently pursuing her masters in science from National University of Singapore is impressed with the ecosystem and ease that Singapore offers. She is one of the founders of Dexter Box or Infinite Engineers who design and develop fun learning activity kits for children to replace rote learning. While the kits are being used over 320 schools in Chennai, she is designing science experiments for elderly folk as well. She said, “Singapore is a country that really supports a lot of start-ups and ventures. People are easily accessible here. If I need to meet a school head for my work, I can just walk in so the paperwork is very less here and it is very encouraging.”For Mint Lim, starting School of Concepts was a deep rooted idea since her childhood. It is a social enterprise in the pre-school enrichment sector with heavily subsidized fees for its linguistic programmes that can enhance their school readiness and educational outcomes. “I am dyslexic and faced many issues on the language front. Autistic kids are not dumb but they need linguistic support. We run a literacy programme for nearly 1,000 children today.”Cheryl Ou, founder of Nail Social in Singapore, employs and trains single mothers and ex-offenders. It is a socially conscious salon to foster the future employment opportunities of local marginalised women. She said, “We specifically train and employ underprivileged women besides mentoring them through their personal challenges to become more confident and independent. In partnership with The Pink Room International Nail Academy, we network with various social agencies in Singapore to identify local women who face greater barriers of entry to employment.”A cop turned entrepreneur, Benjamin Tan, founder of Rickshaw coffee that focuses on transforming communities through coffee, got the idea for his start-up while working as a police officer. He said, “The guy who inspired me to do it as a subscription service was an ex-convict I had arrested. Lee was peddling contraband cigarettes that he delivered via bicycle and letter boxes as he was rejected by the society. And it was then I thought I should replace it with coffee beans.” Rickshaw Coffee works on a sole purpose to empower Lee to use his ability to engage people and help others in the community.
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How youth are driving social change in Singapore