Building Capacity for Social Enterprises
The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is a ministry of the Government of Singapore that focuses on nurturing resilient individuals, strong families, and a caring society in the country. MSF oversees the development of Singapore’s Social sector. In 2013, MSF appointed Eden Strategy Institute to perform a stocktake of the Social Enterprise (SE) sector and glean insights on the factors needed to create a thriving SE ecosystem in Singapore.
Eden took a holistic approach by engaging with a wide range of stakeholders – SEs, enablers, financing bodies, corporations, non-profit organizations and related government organizations. Eden conducted in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and a quantitative survey to surface the key challenges faced by SEs.
In so doing, the poor perception and a lack of clear SE definition surfaced as the most commonly shared challenges for SEs. Corporations further highlighted that the lack of legitimacy of SE’s social impact makes it difficult to invest resources in SEs in comparison to the NPOs that exhibit a clearer and larger social impact. Redundant policy initiatives and unclear mandate of the different government organizations further exacerbates the confusion in the sector.
These issues evidence the need for a Whole-of-Government approach towards different SE initiatives, with a tighter integration with the private and people sector. To support this, Eden developed various Social Enterprise business models as well as Corporate Social Partnership models that best sustain the introduction of new, self-sustaining Private-Public Partnerships.
Eden worked with MSF to put together a social innovation fund structure that can provide varied incentives to both private and public sector players to invest in SEs. To maintain objectivity of the SE definition, Eden proposed a clear approach that uses the proportion of the social and commercial value created by an organization as a way to qualify them as SEs. This forms the basis of understanding the critical success factors of different social business models, and the support needed by different type of SEs.
Since most of the recommendations needed the buy-in of multiple government stakeholders, Eden has conducted capacity building workshops for relevant organizations such as Social Enterprise Association (SEA) and National Council for Social Services (NCSS) in implementing the proposed approaches. Eden conducted capacity building workshops for relevant organizations such as Social Enterprise Association (SEA) and National Council for Social Services (NCSS) in implementing the proposed approaches, and has also been invited to present its insights on Public-Private Partnerships at Singapore’s first ASEAN Forum on Social Enterprises. In line with our recommendations, SEA has since evolved to become the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE), and over the past few years Eden continues to help raiSE implement various social enterprise sector development initiatives.
“The Eden team showed good understanding of MSF research requirements and also went the extra mile to help us glean practical and useful insights of the sector, to help our work in developing social enterprises at next stage. Thank you Calvin and team!”
Assistant Director / Social Enterprises, ComCare and Social Support Division (CSSD)
Ministry of Social and Family Development
- Ministry of Social and Family Development