IMPACT 0218: SPARKING CATALYTIC CHANGE FOR THE YOUTH
Geraldine Lam is one of the founding members of Social Impact Catalyst (SIC), a youth-centric organisation focused on social entrepreneurship and innovation. Through SIC, she mentors students on social entrepreneurship concepts and guides them in their student projects.
Tell us more about what SIC does!
SIC is a youth organisation that aims to provide a platform for youth to embark on social entrepreneurship and innovation.
We aim to champion social impact initiatives within ASEAN and catalyse socially driven projects and businesses, building a pipeline of young leaders committed to creating social impact in various local communities. We focus on three pillars: community, entrepreneurship, and technology.
We work with various partners to champion social impact initiatives. In Singapore, we work with tertiary institutions by providing the platform and support for youths interested in social entrepreneurship. We have student clubs in schools and provide students with training using our self-developed social entrepreneurship syllabus. We also hold interactive boot camps and match student projects with mentors from our network of experienced mentors.
Beyond this, we have partnered with schools for thematic programmes such as a food sustainability programme that we ran early this year with ITE College Central. We’ve partnered with organisations such as Cargill to share about the challenges of achieving food sustainability. Students then use the theories and concepts learnt from our social entrepreneurship programmes to propose sustainability projects.
These programmes help to develop youths by broadening their perspectives and building their confidence to embark on their ideas. We also work with youths beyond schools through our fellowship programme, where we empower 30 fellows with a three-month targeted programme. This year, the programme focused on challenges we identified during the pandemic.
Was there any particular experience that sparked the founding of SIC?
It began with a meeting of like-minded individuals interested in developing social entrepreneurship in Singapore. They felt that more could be done in this space to support interested youths with no experience, while increasing awareness and interest among young people for social entrepreneurship.
Hence, we came together as an independent youth organisation to fill the gap in the social entrepreneurship space.
Could you share some of the struggles faced along the way and what kept you going during these times?
The pandemic created a challenge for the team as physical events were not allowed to be held. This affected the work plan we had come up with as a lot of programmes had to be shelved or postponed.
It was also hard to engage the students during this period as some schools had stopped their co-curricular activities entirely, which meant our student clubs couldn’t run. We had to innovate and move our programmes online.
However, it was so encouraging to see our fellowship programme pivot successfully for an online platform. The programme itself was launched to empower youths to address challenges faced in today’s world. The theme we selected for this year addressed the challenges created by the pandemic.
Youths were put through 12 weeks of learning about concepts relating to social entrepreneurship. They got to interact with mentors in the industry before eventually coming up with a solution for the challenge they had chosen to tackle.
At the end of the cycle, 30 youths graduated from the programme, with some continuing to pursue their ideas.
Are there any other areas of youth empowerment that you are interested in? Why?
One area I am keen to work on is youth mentorship. I think more can be done to help underprivileged youth in terms of empowering them with the resources and confidence to succeed.
I feel that equal access is important for youths to achieve their goals and dreams. Underprivileged youths may face a lot of financial considerations and a lack of access to resources. This disadvantages them greatly in life and they may find it hard to rise above their circumstances to achieve what they want.
I’ve been thinking of supporting these youths by creating a platform for mentorship, which I hope will give them a good chance to achieve their dreams.
What are your plans for SIC’s future? Are there any new initiatives in the works?
We will be working on expanding our footprint with programmes in the ASEAN network to benefit more youths.
We are also working on developing a more advanced syllabus for social entrepreneurship, which aims to help existing social entrepreneurs facing certain challenges in their current fields.