[Left to right: The Nail Social, Pope Jai Thai, Art For Good]
Who would have thought that you can actually help hundreds (yes, hundreds) of people who are in need just by eating Thai food or by having a mani-pedi session with your girl friends?
The number of social enterprises in Singapore has risen greatly in the past couple of years. These businesses have specific social objectives that serve as their main purpose or goals, where profits gained are usually used to fund their own social programs or donated to marginalized societies and people in need.
In short, such organizations actively seek to maximize their profits towards bettering society or the environment as a whole. These days, social enterprises in Singapore have been more and more creative with their business ventures and in the different ways of reaching out to their chosen beneficiaries.
In this 2-part series, we look at the measures they have taken and the initiatives they have kickstarted in order to continue operations despite the current challenging and uncertain economic climate; proving that no worldwide pandemic can stop anybody from serving their society and in helping the people who are in need.
In this article, we specially look into three social enterprises that have modified their scope of beneficiaries — Art for Good, Pope Jai Thai and The Nail Social — widening it to cater to groups of people badly affected by the pandemic and how their business operations have changed while doing so.
1. Art for Good
First up, we have Art for Good. Art for Good provides art programs to vulnerable children in Singapore.
During the Circuit Breaker, they supported a fundraiser to help migrant workers in dormitories. For every donation of $5, donors would receive an e-greeting card of their choice that was specially illustrated by artist @sugarfreesaccharin. All proceeds went to the Transient Workers Count Too (better known as TWC2), a non-profit organization dedicated to improving conditions of low-wage migrant workers in Singapore.
Now you may ask, why did Art for Good choose to help this group of people other than the fact that they are highly at risk for COVID-19?
Here is their answer that a lot of Singaporeans have yet to realize:
“While being away from home and loved ones, migrant workers struggle to support their families back home especially during this pandemic. A vast majority of Singaporeans go through this difficult time with such strong support coming from their family members and significant others. Hence, we need to take into account that migrant workers are on their own in this foreign land.”
The ‘Let’s Spread the Love for Migrant Workers’ fundraiser concluded raising close to $10,500 in just 7 days.
Art for Good also drives projects which strive to continue doing good through art, especially during this tough period, through conducting art therapy and art classes for children.
Through the sales of artworks and crafts which support various initiatives, they stay true to creating art for good. Products like ‘‘Stay Home’ do-it-yourself sewing kit’ encourages the therapeutic benefits of art making while staying at home. These can be found on their online platform.
With Singaporeans not being able to have long weekend trips to Bangkok, the craving for Thai food has been realer than ever.
PJ Group is a social enterprise in the food and beverage industry that provides training and employment to eight different beneficiary groups including: persons with special needs, physical disabilities or mental health conditions; individuals who are hard of hearing/deaf, the visually-impaired, youth-at-risk, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.
These beneficiaries comprise 90 per cent of their workforce, making PJ Group one of the first SMEs in Singapore to do so.
Apart from employing the underprivileged and marginalised groups, they have also managed to create new jobs opportunities for the taxi drivers and the underprivileged affected by the current COVID-19 outbreak with the food delivering jobs.
Pope Jai Thai, the Thai casual dining restaurant, is one out of the four main subsidiaries of the social enterprise which provides affordable and authentic Thai dishes. They recently launched a ground-up initiative, RICE & SHINE. The pay-it-forward initiative aims to provide hot, nutritional meals to support underprivileged communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
They reached out to beneficiaries from low-income and underprivileged communities, individuals and/or families affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, like taxi drivers, low-income families/individuals, and managed to provide approximately 1,656 meals to 52 households during the Circuit Breaker.
At the same time, Pope Jai Thai also offers regular 1 for 1 treats and other wallet-saving promotions to lift Singaporeans’ spirits up during this pandemic. To support their cause, head down to their Instagram page, Facebook page, Telegram channel and official website for regular updates.
Calling all ladies and gentlemen who are in dire need of some pampering. What if I told you, you could get your glam on and support a good cause at the same time?
Branding themselves as a ‘socially conscious salon’, The Nail Social is Singapore’s first-ever social enterprise salon that was established with the aim of providing vocational training and employment to marginalized women who are unable to secure proper jobs, so as to help them progress from a position of vulnerability to self-sufficiency.
Profits gained by The Nail Social go to sustaining the social support offered to this marginalized group of women which eliminates any sort of donor dependency.
The nail salon now requires all of its customers to either bring their own manicure tools or to purchase a manicure tool kit in-store, so as to adhere to the safety regulations advised by the Nailist Association to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 has affected everyone differently. For some, the new normal may just be an inconvenience, but for others, it may be a matter of survival. There is no better time than now to be kind and give back to society, if we are in a position to do so.
Do look out for the second part of the Social Enterprises Versus COVID-19 series where we look into the different creative ways social enterprises have modified their individual business strategies — to better cope and to also better serve our society amidst a pandemic.
Don’t forget to also head down to raiSE Singapore’s BusinessForGood Directory to view a complete list of enterprises that need our support, especially in a time when all we have is one another.