Millennial reflections on social entrepreneurship & innovation – Chloe Tee

Millennial reflections on social entrepreneurship & innovation – Chloe Tee

As a student in business school, I’ve always been fond of topics revolving around entrepreneurship. For me, entrepreneurship is all about solving problems and improving lives, whilst being self-sustainable and even profitable.  As a major in Accounting and Finance degree, I’ve always wonder if there’s more to just monetary value which businesses can create. After a year trying to discover more meaning behind my studies, I was introduced to the idea of social entrepreneurship. I was amazed how it is possible to synergize the power of conventional business with core purpose of solving social or environmental issues, that leads to greater value generation, and this is more than just dollars and cents. I knew I needed to share that idea to my course mates, particularly because they were also from the business school and very likely to be involved in the business world in the future. I thought if the idea of social entrepreneurship can be instilled in their minds, it might trigger them to create innovative social projects or even business models that are both socially and financially sustainable.

However, conveying the idea wasn’t exactly the easiest thing to do, especially because social missions were never really a major discussion topic in our typical syllabus. Anything social-related was always a “side-dish” in our textbooks that students tend to deemphasize. Whenever I try to communicate how a social issue can be tackled through business models, my friends couldn’t grasp the idea. Social and financial goals are always black and white for them because social missions are always incorporated in a company under corporate social responsibility (CSR) and it often means money flowing out instead of revenue coming in to the company. There were some efforts by the university in trying to educate the campus community more about social entrepreneurship and social innovation ideas through forums and talks. But I thought we needed a more relevant way to do that so that people would finally notice. So, I decided to show the idea, literally, to the campus community because “seeing is believing”.

After assembling a group of close friends, we began to reach out to social enterprises across Malaysia and invited them over to the campus to run a social market – a marketplace for products and services that are created to bring better change to the lives of underserved communities and nature. The Good Tavern Social Market becomes more than a marketplace, it is where people share stories, spread ideas, and connect like-minded people. It wasn’t long until more and more people heard about the project and soon we expanded beyond campus, into one other university and also MaGIC Cyberjaya (also known as the Silicon Valley of Malaysia). We knew we were doing the right thing because people were finally listening. The simple idea of running a marketplace wasn’t just about sales, but it’s truly for the social innovators, social enterprises, and even the underserved community to share their stories, with the greater hope to inspire more changemakers for a better world.

I have been blessed to be in a university environment where I had supportive lecturers and friends to make The Good Tavern (TGT) possible. The team might have created TGT but TGT was the one that has built us to be more creative, compassionate, and agile as human-beings. We’re connected to many organizations and projects, like SEASIN, who constantly show support in making us better so that we can continue to innovate and improvise projects. As a proud millennial, I believe we are becoming more conscious of issues beyond our own daily lives, but of greater ones that can impact our future generation. Change for the better is possible even with the simplest idea. We just have to click the “start” button.

Chloe Tee, former student at Sunway University 

What actions are needed to shift the way that universities behave?

What actions are needed to shift the way that universities behave?

During SI-LIVE ASIA, SIX hosted a talk show on creating spaces and changing structures: how universities can change their systems. We brought together the perspectives from across the university structure – leadership, management, academia, student – as well as the perspectives of three external organisations that work with universities: British Council Hong Kong, The Good Lab and School of Changemakers.

Here are our speakers’ reflections on what one action universities could take to shift their behaviour and incorporate more social innovation.

Phonchan Kraiwatnutsorn, Founder and Managing Director at School of Changemakers: Active listening workshops that create time and space for those across universities to work together is key! One of the hardest challenges within universities is having the time and skill to listen to each other.

Chloe Tee, student at Sunway University: Changes should come from the people we learn from – lecturers. It can be something as simple as incorporating short videos on social topics into the breaks within long lectures that will spark interest in students.

Dr. Faizah Majid, Faculty of Education Dean at Universiti Teknologi MARA: I want to focus on changing the mindset of lecturers and helping integrate social innovation into their curriculums.

Mark Anderson, Director of the Europe Office at Glasgow Caledonian University: I think it’s important to professionalise the support for social innovation within universities. Innovation has become a part of a university’s DNA – the same needs to happen with social innovation.

Simon Teasdale, Professor of Public Policy and Organisations at Glasgow Caledonian University: Universities shouldn’t impose social innovation onto lecturers’ curriculums – it just becomes another box to tick. Instead, lecturers should listen more to students.

Christopher Ng, Head of English for Education Systems at British Council Hong Kong: It’s essential to enhance their transparency and finding where the commonality of all university stakeholders lie. Universities should stop being as guarded about their research and share more.

Ada Wong, Founder and Convenor at The Good Lab: Universities should ‘leapfrog’ and ‘mainstream’. We need to embed in young people going through the higher education system 21st century skills so that they become natural problem solvers when they graduate. We need to bring social innovation into universities’ innovation departments and unite techies and social innovators – we need more techies to talk about smart cities and social innovators to ask the question ‘who are smart cities for?’

SI LIVE ASIA helped spark a dialogue between researchers and practitioners about the role that universities should play in the future. Students are often keen to find ways to help tackle the biggest challenges that societies face today, and universities are hotbeds of cutting-edge research and innovation. Yet as institutions, they are often hard to innovate and change, with traditional hierarchies and governing structures. If they want to become more than academic institutions, and more in touch with the communities around them, universities need to find better ways to harness the energy of students, researchers and practitioners to improve society and direct innovation towards social change.

The framing for SI-LIVE ASIA came from a report SIX wrote last September on Five ways universities are organising themselves to increase societal impact. To find out more about the SEASIN project, please visit the website.

What are you working on already that you’d like to feature on the SEASIN website to share with others working on social innovation in research/practice? If you would like to contribute to SEASIN, sign up to the newsletter or get in touch!

SI LIVE ASIA event round up

SI LIVE ASIA event round up

SI LIVE ASIA took place on 8-9 October 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The two-day event brought together practitioners and researchers from South East Asia and beyond. With participants from over 15 countries and a range of backgrounds, the event explored three major challenges faced by universities today in helping prepare for the future:

  • Rethinking research and practice: how do we build shared knowledge and better connect research and practice?
  • Rethinking learning: how do universities interact more with their wider communities, and help people prepare for the real world?
  • Rethinking systems: how do we create the space to help universities as institutions transform? How do we shift systems?

The first day of SI-LIVE ASIA was a provocation day that explored the above framing of the event through keynote speeches, a talkshow style panel discussion and interactive deep-dive sessions. These sessions covered everything from the role of research and universities in tackling the SDGs, to building knowledge and narratives between social innovation and STEM and human centred design. The second day gave participants the chance to delve deep into their understanding of particular topics, with 9 intimate roundtable discussions with abstracts presented by over 25 researchers and practioners. These covered topics as varied as civic urban innovation, enabling people with autism to find meaningful work, and empowering students to solve global health issues. Please see here for the full programme over the two daysFor a list of speakers, please see here

During the first day of SI-LIVE ASIA, SIX hosted a talkshow on creating spaces and changing structures: how universities can change their systems. We brought together the perspectives from across the university structure – leadership, management, academia, student – as well as the perspectives of three external organisations that work with universities: British Council Hong Kong, The Good Lab and School of Changemakers. You can read their reflections on what one action universities could take to shift their behaviour and incorporate more social innovation here

What are you working on already that you’d like to feature on the SEASIN website to share with others working on social innovation in research/practice? If you would like to contribute to SEASIN, sign up to the newsletter or get in touch!

SEASIN Interview Series: Dr. Marzlin Marzuki

SEASIN Interview Series: Dr. Marzlin Marzuki

I believe that students can become better problem solvers of future challenges if they can understand the real situation.

What’s your name? Tell us about yourself.

I am Dr Marzlin Marzuki, Head of Study Centre, Faculty of Accountancy at Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Kedah Branch, Malaysia. I am passionate about helping the community. I would like to see the community gain knowledge and generate income to increase their economy. I am willing to extend my professional services as well as other possible assistance to help the community. In my opinion, helping the community would increase the sense of social responsibility.

What do you think the most important social challenges are at the moment? 

The most important social challenge is to educate the community to increase their economy. Currently, my group members transfer our professional knowledge in designing branding and packaging, marketing and maintaining account records low income communities that produce traditional cookies. The sharing of knowledge provides the community with a chance to learn from experts in a non-formal context and improve their level of income.

How do you think students or young people can play a role in helping solve these challenges?

Students and young people can play a role in helping these challenges by providing an avenue for the students to contribute to the society. They should be exposed to activities or programs that would engage them to work with the community or society. In fact, there are various potential ideas that can be drawn from the students to assist the community.

What did you learn at the SEASIN studio?

I have learnt a systematic way to implement the social innovation project during the SEASIN studio workshop. In fact, there are many ideas that can be converted into the social innovation project. Indeed, SEASIN studio has changed my perspective on social innovation initiatives. For me social innovation are initiatives that would benefit the community at large.

Do you think it is important that university play a role in the community that is more than as academia? How?

In my opinion, universities can play an important role to help the community. Universities can provide human resources in terms of academia as well as students to initiate project that can benefit the society/community. Academics can apply their knowledge to assist the community. The academics can guide the students to assist the community within their ability. This win win situation between the university and the community would increase the rapport between these two entities. Subsequently, it promotes the life-long learning process between the academia, students and community. I believe that students can become better problem solvers of future challenges if they can understand the real situation.

SEASIN Interview Series: Shwe Yee Mya

SEASIN Interview Series: Shwe Yee Mya

As the future of communities and the country lies in our hands, students can play a role in helping solve these challenges.

What’s your name? Tell us about yourself.

I am Shwe Yee Mya. Now, I am a fourth year student at Cooperative University, Thanlyin. My specialized major is Social Enterprise Management. I am passionate about thinking and solving social problems and I would like to provide facilities to social excluded vulnerable and marginalized groups. So, I decided that I must become a professional person in solving the social problems of the community. It is very difficult to become one, but I never give up. If I have a chance, I want to learn further study about Social Innovation. I will serve in reducing poverty alleviation for my country’s benefits. Now, I am a member and user of TCU SISU as well as participating in Waste Recycling project.

What do you think the most important social challenges are at the moment? 

I think there are many social challenges that we are facing in our country. As my opinion, Environmental pollution is the first thing to be solved because this may alter the ecosystem and cause hazards to organisms. In environmental pollution, there are many facts which may cause pollution. But, I think people use plastic every day. Plastic is a dangerous thing for organisms because it is a persistent pollutant. Moreover, it may cause many diseases and may make the environment dirty. The social issues for orphans and vulnerable children who may be the future pillars of our country are the second thing to be solved.

What are you doing to address this challenge or what do you hope to do?

Now, I am participating in the Waste Recycling small project of TCU SISU to address these challenges. We collect the recyclable things in recycle bins and sell them. After we get money, we donate it to philanthropic associations and some becomes loans for low-income people. Our main objectives are to reduce the waste problem in our community and provide knowledge to people that plastic can be used as a recyclable product. Later, I would like to provide and support proper vocational training for vulnerable people. I hope that people who participate in this project may have a teamwork spirit, social entrepreneurial intentions, environmental awareness, knowledge and understanding in students to prevent future damage.

How do you think students or young people can play a role in helping solve these challenges?

I think students or young people are the backbone of society and hence they determine the future of society. As the future of communities and the country lies in our hands, students can play a role in helping solve these challenges. Young people have a role in renewing and refreshing the current status of our society including leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship skills, etc. For example, we can find a lot of young university students interested in philanthropy who works as a part-time volunteer looking after orphans and older people. In social organizations such as NGOs, INGOs, and social enterprises, they participate as apprentices.

 

What did you learn at the SEASIN studio?

At the SEASIN studio, I got a lot of knowledge, such as how to set the objective, how to plan a project, how to address barriers and how to implement the project and so on. I learned the functional analysis to solve the most important social problems in the community. At the studio, we considered many basic facts of the problem and we classified the most possible facts to solve it. Finally, we were able to accommodate the problem solving methods.

Has the SEASIN studio introduced you to new ways of thinking or working? Has it changed your perspective or your behaviour?

This studio makes me understand the importance of teamwork, and how to communicate with other people to achieve our goals. Moreover, it also gave me more self confidence when I speak to my teacher, my friends and other people. I am proud of attending this workshop which had a tremendous effect on my personal skills such as presentation skills, communication skills and creative thinking ideas. After attending this workshop, I have not only been generating ideas but also getting new ways to solve the social problems systematically.

What does ‘social innovation’ mean to you?

For me, ‘social innovation’ means ideas that bring value to society. In other words, social innovation is the application of new ideas to solve the social problems.

Do you think it is important that university play a role in the community that is more than as academia? How?

Yes, I think it is important that university play a role in the community. The universities mostly provide higher education degree. However, there are a lot of social needs and problems in the community. Therefore, universities should link together with the stakeholders to address for these challenges. So, the universities should provide not only academia for students but also provide vocational training, career and skill development programs for the community.

What can universities do to help students become better problem solvers of future challenges?

In my opinion, universities can help students by providing a higher degree of social innovation, linking the external experts in order to get knowledge and advice, listening to their voice about how they want to implement their dreams, and they can also allow students to participate in small projects of the university which can benefit society.