Where you dine at a restaurant or cafe and at the same time do a good deed in Singapore?
Over the years, a number of social enterprise eateries have popped up each with different beneficiaries and with a different social cause.
Restaurants such as Eighteen Chefs, Soul Food and New Rasa Singapura amongst others are some of the social enterprises which seek to provide training and employment opportunities to ex-offenders, persons with disabilities, and raise funds to support marginalised groups.
Take Eighteen Chefs for example. The social enterprise was started by Mr Benny Se Teo who is an ex-offender himself. And he has managed to find a way to deal with the difficulty of finding manpower to work in the food and beverage sector by hiring ex-offenders and youths-at-risk.
“Until today, I’ve never had difficulties finding staff because I have a large pool of untapped resource.”
But he has a criteria for recruiting ex-offenders: They must be willing to change.
When he was released from prison in 1993, he experienced a period of unemployment when he went for six job interviews to no avail.
Soul Food, on the other hand, seeks to train young people with special needs. Its trainees will master various cooking techniques that you see at restaurants and at the end of it attain certifications. The daughter of the owner, Mr Gerald Png, might even be the one to serve you. He was inspired by his daughter who has a learning disability and has a keen interest in cooking.
Soul Food started operations only by reservations. But today also opens for lunch on weekdays.
Indeed, more and more of such eateries with a social cause are sprouting up because of many reasons, but one major factor is because Singaporeans are beginning to pay more attention to doing good. Hence, there is that demand and space to be filled.
The Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise released the results of a survey of 1,888 respondents, which saw that more people were buying products or services from social enterprises – 35% in 2016 compared with 22% in 2010.
Nearly 4 in 10 of the social enterprises are founded by those aged below 35.
As it is, social entrepreneurship is still in its nascent stages in here, but Singapore, according to industry watchers, has the potential to become the regional hub for enterprises.
People like Se Teo and Png are not content to just be a bystander, and have sought to find more meaning in their lives by making an impact through social enterprise eateries.
Will you jump on the bandwagon and make a social impact as well?
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