The Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise raiSE on Wednesday unveiled initiatives to catalyse financing, capabilities, and talent to scale up public-private synergies in Singapore’s social ecosystem.

As financing to drive social impact becomes an increasingly pressing concern, raiSE has connected stakeholders from Singapore’s public and private sectors alike to collaborate on a new pay-for-success social impact bond (SIB), raiSE said in a statement.

Launched in November last year, the pilot SIB aims to improve employment retention outcomes for persons in recovery (PIR) from mental health issues. raiSE brought together social enterprises Social Ventures Partnerships and FindJobs, which harness their expertise in promoting inclusive employment and leverage on their insights on the beneficiaries’ needs and challenges to help them return and reintegrate into the workforce more seamlessly.

In the process, they also work with the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and its social sector partners – including the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH), and Singapore Anglican Community Services (SACS) who played an important role to shape the design of the programme and help refer identified clients to the job agency.

The SIB structure incentivises and de-risks impact investment in specific areas of social impact through a unique collaborative model with social enterprises and other cross-sectoral partners. Private investors Johnson & Johnson, AP Ventures and SymAsia Foundation came on board to commit an upfront investment of S$500,000 ($368,627). With raiSE playing the role of outcomes funder, the funds are disbursed when specific target outcomes are achieved.

By allowing for the targeted identification of stakeholders with the relevant expertise and experience, raiSE provides a platform to connect local social enterprises to leverage their expertise to deliver more targeted and tangible outcomes, while also giving private investors an avenue to make greater direct and meaningful impact in their communities as part of their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives.

In addition, to establish stronger capabilities within Singapore’s social enterprise ecosystem, raiSE has partnered with venture capital firm Quest Ventures to launch Asia’s first venture capital-backed, sustainable impact accelerator programme targeted at socially impactful enterprises.

Slated to run from June to August 2022, the Sustainable Impact Accelerator combines the expertise of raiSE and Quest Ventures to support socially impactful enterprises with high potential in scaling up their impact. They should have proven revenues, an enthusiastic user base, and clear intent or track record to integrate human-centred social impact, while also demonstrating potential for double-digit year-on-year growth within the next five years.

Start-ups will receive funding and capability support to drive their next stage of growth, and gain exposure to investors across key cities in Asia as they work towards raising an institutional investment round in the next 12 months.

Under the programme, eligible start-ups and businesses will undergo a unique curriculum designed by Quest Ventures and raiSE around achieving real-world outcomes and tangible impact. Participants will also gain access to both Quest Ventures’ and raiSE’s diverse network of mentors, entrepreneurs-in-residence, and founders.

Together, these resources build on existing seed and early-stage grants provided by raiSE and aim to further support social enterprises on their journey towards developing a sustainable and impactful business model so that they are in a good position to raise subsequent funding.

To encourage the cultivation of a new generation of socially conscious entrepreneurs, raiSE has also entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS).

Through this partnership, raiSE will work together with SUSS to share knowledge and contacts across their local and regional networks and venture building programmes, as well as explore potential co-funding models for start-ups from SUSS. This would further amplify the university’s existing entrepreneurship programme and immersive venture traineeships with institutions across Asia in impact areas like education, mental health, early childhood, and gerontology.

“The tremendous impact that the pandemic has had on communities around the world has rightfully underscored the centrality of Purpose and the Social dimension of the ESG agenda. No one can accomplish this alone, and businesses and investors must now rise to the challenge and join hands with partners across sectors,” said Mr Gautam Banerjee, Chairman, raiSE.

“The holistic initiatives that raiSE is driving illustrate the myriad opportunities for everyone to participate and help catalyse financing, capabilities, and talent. Whatever the avenue, we believe every enterprise and organisation has a real opportunity now to be socially impactful,” he added.

RaiSE, was set up to raise awareness on social entrepreneurship and raise support for social enterprises in Singapore. It hopes to strengthen the social enterprise sector in Singapore and encourage the growth of social enterprises as a
sustainable way to address social needs. It provides a range of support to help social enterprises from start to mature stages, such as funding, advisory services, training, relevant resources and networks.

In facilitating the growth of the sector, raiSE works closely with the public and private sectors, and continues to welcome the support of corporations and individuals who are keen to help advance social entrepreneurship in Singapore.

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