Realising Singapore’s Social Enterprise Employment Potential
Singapore’s nascent Social Enterprise (SE) sector is undergoing a period of transformation and growth, with new social start-ups being launched regularly. Local social enterprises have an opportunity to provide more products and services that meet unmet beneficiary needs such as healthcare, housing, education, employment, or affordable housing. Social enterprises are uniquely positioned to serve these needs by deploying innovative business models, cross-subsidizing high costs, providing meaningful and flexible employment, and re-investing profits to further scale the organization. In so doing, they hold a promise of creating significant employment depending on market demand, sectoral financing and growth, as well as the manpower requirements of different social enterprise business models.
The Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) is the government agency that aims to help Singapore’s workforce remain employable and competitive. WDA was interested in this potential employment opportunity offered by Social Enterprises, and invited Eden Strategy Institute to identify the most attractive segment for local social enterprises based on the unmet demands and the potential employment that can be created by them.
After researching the demand and supply numbers for different social enterprise segments, Eden identified the eldercare social enterprises as an attractive segment for growth and disruptive innovation. Singapore is expected to experience a rapid growth in the underserved elderly population, due to limited capacity supplied by private and public providers of elder care. Singapore is expected to have more elderly than many aged countries, with 1 elder supported by 2.1 working age citizens by 2030 at current growth trajectories. Yet, different elder-centric social enterprises globally demonstrate the ability to effectively plug workforce gaps using a wide range of business models, provide a higher standard of living for the new baby boomer elder segment, and offer attractive employment opportunities.
By engaging with thought leaders in the eldercare domain and reviewing the growth journeys of compelling international social impact business models, Eden recommended contextual shifts and new pillars of ecosystem support needed to replicate the outcomes of successful social enterprises abroad. These recommendations have initiated cross-collaboration among several of the government agencies concerned, to pave an ideal growth path for all Social Enterprises to thrive in Singapore.
“Eden Strategy Institute has been instrumental in providing the domain knowledge, analytical rigour and sheer determination in gathering research needed for the success of this project. For example, Eden’s intimate knowledge of the Social Innovation landscape was a critical success factor. We particularly valued the team’s motivation in generating research that had a real impact on decisions related to issues of public interest. In addition to having the necessary technical competence in structuring qualitative research and analysing quantitative data, Eden clearly demonstrated its passion for helping Singaporeans through its areas of influence. It has been a pleasure working with the team and we would not hesitate to consider Eden for future projects that are relevant to its areas of expertise."
—Cui Shaowen, Assistant Director, Strategic Planning & Policy Office, Singapore Workforce Development Agency