19 November 2018 — There was a great buzz in the social entrepreneurship scene with the launch of the Alipay-NUS Enterprise Social Innovation Challenge last Friday. The initiative, a collaboration between NUS Enterprise and Ant Financial (the parent company of the world’s largest mobile and online payment platform, Alipay), aims to identify and support the growth of start-ups using digital technology to build a more inclusive society in Southeast Asia [press release]. The launch was commemorated through an exchange of mascots — the NUS’ LiNUS and Ant Financial’s Super Ant — to symbolize the sharing of ideas, experiences and expertise to support the growth of social impact start-ups in the region.
Ant Financial VP and General Manager of Technology and Business Innovation Group, Geoff Jiang, and NUS Enterprise Senior Director of the NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, Professor Wong Poh Kam, kicked off the launch event together. During their speeches, Geoff Jiang spoke about Ant Financial’s hopes for the challenge, “We understand that we can’t do it all by ourselves, because the impact of one company may be limited, but when we build an ecosystem of partners with a shared vision, we will be able to achieve much more.”
“Through the challenge, Ant Financial hopes to “support innovators in Southeast Asia to address real world problems such as aging, poverty and lack of development opportunities, and to create a lasting impact for our communities.”
— Geoff Jiang
Prof Wong Poh Kam shared more about how he feels that the partnership with Ant Financial will benefit the community, “Ant Financial has introduced many digital innovations that brought about significant financial inclusion for hundreds of millions of people in China, something that Southeast Asia has much to learn from.”
He also gave our commitment to support these start-ups, through our strong support ecosystem and extensive entrepreneurial networks, “For a start, social impact start-ups will be able to attend our workshops in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, designed to help them develop business models that achieve both social impact and financial sustainability.”
Top innovations from the challenge will receive a grand total of $140,000 in cash prizes and further support and opportunities to accelerate their growth.
The launch event also saw a panel discussion on how digital technology can be leveraged on to achieve social impact. On the panel was Prof Wong and Geoff Jiang, Aseem Thakur of Give.Asia, Julian Koo of Jaga-Me and Ivan Chang of Wonderlabs Foundation. They shared invaluable insights with the audience.
“Focus on putting technology where beneficiaries are instead of making them hunt you or the tech down,” shared Julian Koo, from his experience with home care platform, Jaga-Me. Aseem Thakur, through his experience with Give.Asia, reminded aspiring social entrepreneurs to “put sustainability on equal footing with your intended impact.”
Interested to hear more? Re-visit the live broadcast of the event here.
To find out more about the challenge, visit alipaynusseachallenge.com.