Rise of the young social entrepreneurs

|     Danial Norjidi     |

A PROGRAMME designed to encourage social entrepreneurship among youths concluded yesterday.

The ‘Initiate Week – Rising of Social Entrepreneurs’ is a project started by Goh Chai Li, a lecturer from the School of Business, Politeknik Brunei (PB), under the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI).

One of the aims of the programme was to ignite the spirit of social entrepreneurship among youths, as well as creating jobs and self-reliance, while at the same time raising public awareness and engaging people with activities that serve the community better.

About 25 participants were in the programme, which began on Monday and ended yesterday with a certificate and award presentation ceremony.

The proceedings yesterday saw opening remarks delivered by Briana Weiseinger, Startup Advocate from the University of California, San Diego. Certificates were presented by Denis Ho Mun Tai, Director of PB before the top three teams of the programme were announced.

First prize went to Team InTURN for their food waste management project, ‘Earthbank’, while Team Major Tom’s ‘Ecofashion Brand’ project earned them second place. Third place went to Team Fresh Bowl for their project on healthy food, ‘Fresh bowl’.

The top three prizes were presented by the guest of honour, YB Iswandy bin Ahmad, a member of the Legislative Council (LegCo).

YB Iswandy bin Ahmad, a member of the Legislative Council in a group photo . – DANIAL NORJIDI

Also attending was Mayra Robles from the Embassy of the United States of America in Brunei Darussalam.

The programme promoted entrepre-neurship as a way to engage talented youth to explore newer and innovative ideas in developing Brunei’s future, as well as to engage volunteers in serving the communities better by promoting a giving culture.

In a speech, YB Iswandy said, “Having evolved from the traditional for-profit, non-profit, and public sectors; impact-driven and entrepreneurial individuals have been pioneering social enterprise, a new form of enterprise.”

He said that this model unleashes value not only through economic wealth creation but also by creating beneficial impact to society and the environment.

“Social entrepreneurship is a unique sector” as there are currently no clear and accurate description of what a ‘social enterprise’ is, the LegCo member said. This lack of a definition has “led to confusion among stakeholders and potential entrepreneurs”.

“While there may not be a universal definition, social enterprises have primary and secondary characteristics,” he said. “Primary: A social enterprise is an entity which balances both impact and business in order to solve a legitimate social or environmental issue through its offerings, which are driven by market needs.

“Secondary: A social enterprise is an entity that operates by being inclusive and transparent in its activities, while being fully accountable,” he explained.

“It is our hope that the rising number of young people, especially in areas of social entrepreneurship, will continue to shape how this growing sector can help boost the economy, livelihood and even our social responsibility for our community in Brunei Darussalam,” YB Iswandy said.

“The impact which all of you are potentially making, from the benefi-ciaries of your projects, raising awareness on importance of social enterprise, and even for own benefit, which is to consider social entrepreneurship as a future career.”

Congratulating the participants, YB Iswandy said the mindset developed in their journey as social entrepreneurs will be valuable.

“It is true that not all will venture into business or enterprise, but at least, having a social entrepreneurship mindset will definitely contribute to the sector that you will be in, be it government, private, NGO or social enterprise.”

The programme was funded by the US Department of State under YSEALI, in collaboration with PB; DARe (Darussalam Enterprise); the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation; the Health Promotion Centre; Entrepreneurship Village; University of California San Diego; Daikyo Environment Recycling Sdn Bhd, Green Brunei and Helmi Abdullah Fitness.

Source: Borneo Bulletin

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