Insights from Kopi Chat Da Bao with (these)abilities’ CEO, Ken Chua
Venturing on a social entrepreneurship journey may not be easy, but championing for a particular cause and reaping the end rewards are knowingly worthwhile. On 10 July 2019, we had a Kopi Chat Da Bao session with Ken Chua, one of Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur and founder of (these)abilities. (these)abilities is a for-profit design and technology company that aims to level the playing field for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) at work, home, and during play.
Here are five key tips on what Ken has for aspiring entrepreneurs about running a social enterprise.
- Representation is Key –When it comes to finding solutions, it is pivotal that “every stakeholder sit at the table as equals to brainstorm together with a shared understanding and vision of what is to be achieved.” Having everyone present not only helps you gain fruitful insight from each party, but also allows each of them to contribute fairly to the solution, making it more meaningful for everyone.
- Short Term Pain for Long Term Gain — Although fair representation requires more effort, doing so will greatly benefit your social entrepreneurship in the long run. People want a say in the solutions to problems concerning them. Giving them a say translates to you listening and showing care, which can breed strong support and loyalty from them eventually.
- Know What the Community Needs –“It is one thing for the product to be technically sound, but another thing to have the community actually want to use it”. At the end of the day, what matters is that the product appeals to and can be used by the community. Avoid wasting resources — always consult the target audience first!
- Stay Rooted –As your company grows, your circle of influence tends to grow as well. However, as social entrepreneurs, it is important to remember that the biggest influence should always be the community you aim to serve. Stay in touch with what is happening on the ground to ensure you know their true needs, and not just what you perceive is needed.
- Sympathy vs Empathy –As mentioned in one of his ted talks, differentiating between sympathy and empathy is important to a social entrepreneur. To empathize is to care ”smarter”, as one uses an “objective lens” when validating their own efforts in caring for others. This allows one to easily spot shortcomings and feel motivated to improve oneself such that they can better serve the community in need.
Watch the full video interview with(these)abilities here: