Over 150 guests descended on the Sustainable Living Kampung at Bottle Tree Park to witness students from six different tertiary institutions battle it out in the finale of DBS EXCITE! Youth Program, organized by Ground-Up Initiative, CEEMAN and Challenge:Future, supported by Youth in Action Program. Singapore is one of ten countries, and one of just two Asian countries apart from India, chosen to inspire young people to identify innovative solutions to address youth unemployment and create jobs for the future.
The DBS EXCITE! programme — EXChange for Innovation, Technopreneurship and Entrepreneurship — is testimony to how the grassroots movement that GUI advocates is gaining international recognition. Minister K Shanmugam, Singapore’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Law and Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC, was Guest-of-Honour for this prestigious event.
Earlier this evening, eight groups pitched their ideas for starting up social enterprises and leading community initiatives. Six winning groups took home cash prizes sponsored by DBS. Ideas ranged from Online Fashion platforms, to Fortune Cookies for Neighbours or creating change through breakdance! The winning idea presented a model for building social and personal responsibility in a young person through specially designed programs for pets.
Commented Minister Shanmugam, “I am happy to see that this is a generation of youths who wish to make a social difference. Social enterprises play an important role in creating social impact and helping disadvantaged Singaporeans achieve self-reliance through employment and meaningful engagement. It is very heartening to see these DBS EXCITE! participants be motivated to start their own social enterprises, and I challenge even more of our youths to follow the lead and get involved in a community initiative or be part of a business with a clear sense of its social mission. ”
GUI’s Kampung Chief Tay Lai Hock added, “We have been focusing on building strong and connected communities by getting everyone to re-discover their connections with their roots and heritage. GUI also focuses on nurturing grounded leaders. Through the years, we have incubated three social enterprises at our premises, held volunteer programmes involving thousands of people in hundreds of educational institutions and private corporations, and even set out on international missions to spread the GUI way in India, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia. This June, we are very honoured to be partnering with international heavyweights DBS and Challenge:Future to roll out DBS EXCITE! for students.”
One of the participants, Sarah Vong, reflected how she is now inspired “to be open to new things and try to adapt to situations, but not forget my roots as well.” Fellow participant Wei En concurred that he found the programme’s activities aspirational, and provoked soul searching. For him, the experience had “concretised and affirmed that design, creativity and technology could really be infused into social enterprises”.
Karen Ngui, DBS’ Head of Group Strategic Marketing & Communications said, “As a leading Asian bank, DBS is committed to building a better future for Asia and to be a force for good in the communities we are present in. Championing social entrepreneurship across the region is the centrepiece of our corporate social responsibility efforts. We are delighted to partner GUI on this initiative to inspire youths to develop possible solutions to address growing social challenges.”
Andreja Kodrin, President of Challenge:Future, said, “As a global think-do-tank, we are constantly scouting for ideas to equip students to create the future by creating opportunities. We have found GUI’s concept of DBS EXCITE! intriguing and refreshing in how it immerses students into the heart of social enterprises, inculcates them in the 5G values of being Gracious, Green, Giving, Grounded, and Grateful, and finally encourages them to make meaningful decisions about their future. We feel what GUI does in Singapore could be a viable sustainable model that we can adopt back in Slovenia, and in the longer term, the entire Europe.
“This is the first time that Challenge:Future is engaging in Asia, and we are happy to see the strong response from these institutions as well as the support from our local sponsor, DBS.”
Participants were invigorated after the experience. Some said that they have realised the true meaning of entrepreneurship, which is “about humility, honesty, hard work, and a strong will”. Amirul, who helped a food stall owner pluck chillies in the second week, said that the experience made him “appreciate the hawkers, the people who prepare food more, for the sacrifice and love they put into their cooking”. Many others reflected that the experience gave them a “boost of confidence”, helped “break the awkwardness barrier”, and “develop more guts”.
The DBS EXCITE! programme is a month long event where each week revolves around entrepreneurial themes such as Walking in the Shoes of Social Enterprises, and Creating Our Future and Overcoming Challenges. This programme culminated in a “Kampung Cakap” (meaning “village talk” in Malay) on the last day, where participants aptly presented their solutions for solving challenges in their future. Video available here.
For more information on the DBS EXCITE! programme, please visit: