Biz Sch News 27 September 2016

NUS and Tanoto Foundation came together to strengthen regional social sector

 NUS students worked together with top ASEAN social enterprises, to compete for prizes amounting to S$75,000 for the inaugural Crossing the Chasm Challenge held on 16 September 2016.  The inaugural event focused on students working with industry mentors to help social enterprises helping to end poverty devise marketing plans and pitches for success.



Organised by our Asia Centre for Social Enterprises and Philanthropy (ACSEP), with financial support from the Tanoto Foundation, this is the first time social enterprises and students were matched with industry experts to advance the social sector in the region, and have their solutions be pitched to a panel of judges to win prizes.



The Challenge began in May 2016 when 13 shortlisted NUS student teams were matched with 11 social enterprises from Singapore, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines and India. They were tasked to develop marketing plans under the mentorship of business leaders such as Mr Jacky Mussry, Deputy CEO of Mark Plus, Inc., Ms Margaret Kim, Director, General Counsel of Credit Suisse and Ms Natasha Gray, Associate Consultant at APCO Worldwide.

Teams had to test their proposals with their target audience before submitting them for judging during the semi-final phase. The five finalists selected presented their ideas to an esteemed panel of judges and a live audience of over 200 attendees at the finals held on 16 September, 2016.



Team: iChange

NUS undergraduates Vincent Ng, Jared Ho, Terence Teoh and Tan Yan Ni,

Social Enterprise: SDI academy
S$12,000 for the team and S$30,000 for the social enterprise

What clinched the win
: The team proposed strategic solutions to address the Singapore-based social enterprise’s outreach issues to empower migrant workers with communications skills

“I am impressed by the students’ professionalism and empathetic listening skills, as exemplified in the high quality of work that the students produced. I am heartened by the enthusiasm and passion exhibited by the students and the mentors. Some of them certainly went beyond their call of duty to help their social enterprises achieve good business outcomes,” says Ms Belinda Tanoto, Tanoto Foundation Board Member and programme finals judge.

This year, the Challenge supported poverty alleviation-focused social enterprises that fall into what is called the ‘pioneer gap’. This term refers to social enterprises confronted with a funding gap due to either being too large for seed-funding or too small for accelerator grants or impact investors.


“By helping reduce the pioneer gap and enabling a supportive ecosystem to ensure that social enterprises stand a better chance to reach maturity,  we are working towards innovative solutions that solve actual problems and thereby advance the social sector,” says Ms Laina Raveendran Greene, Associate Director (Community Development) at ACSEP.

Team: Krakakoa

Yale-NUS undergraduates Angela Ferguson, Anjali Hazra, Jermaine Pan and Regina Ng Si En

Social Enterprise:

S$8,000 for the team and S$20,000 for the social enterprise

What clinched the win
: The team proposed key differentiation and unique selling propositions for the Indonesian chocolate producer who was looking to expand into the Singapore market.

Winner of the
People Choice’s Award: The team and the social enterprise also bagged an additional S$2,500

The ACSEP initiative has been made possible with the generous support of Tanoto Foundation, which works with communities and partners to address root causes of poverty in countries where the Tanoto family has significant presence. The foundation has agreed to support ACSEP and the Challenge for three years by donating the total prize money of S$225,000.

“Tanoto Foundation’s mission is poverty alleviation. But what sets us apart is our approach. We believe in harnessing the power of businesses and market-based solutions to address society’s most pressing social problems. In our 35 years of doing social work in Singapore, Indonesia and China, we learned that there are no silver bullets. Instead, all parties, whether public, private or non-profit, need to work together and collaborate to tackle this huge challenge. ACSEP’s Crossing the Chasm is a prime example of such collaboration. We hope that by supporting ACSEP, we will inspire others to collaborate and to also form public-private partnerships. We applaud NUS Business School for hosting ACSEP and we feel privileged to participate in such a meaningful endeavour to promote social entrepreneurship,” says Ms Belinda about Tanoto’s financial support to ACSEP.


Ms Belinda Tanoto honoured by Dean Bernard Yeung for the generous support of Tanoto Foundation

As a part of this year’s event, ACSEP also presented the NUS BSA Social Impact Prize to two NUS Business undergraduates who have been recognised for their passion for community service and valuable contribution to society.  Ms Nadia Aldora started her own social enterprise in Indonesia that trains and employs underprivileged women; and Mr Isaac Lee Qian Min is an active volunteer in many grassroots initiatives and co-chaired the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled (MINDS) MYG Guillemard Project.

To learn more about ACSEP, click here