15 Jun 2016
Interview: Social enterprises are important and require more government support
Carol Heng, Senior Manager of Bizlink Centre answers a few questions and tells us the key differences between a not-for-profit and a for-profit organisation.
- How did the idea for Bizlink Centre come about?
In 1986, Bizlink Centre was set up by Ministry of Community Development (former MSF) and former Singapore Council of Social Service as a project to establish employment programmes for people with disabilities. In January 1995, Bizlink was registered as an independent entity with the same mission. As a charity, Bizlink runs both social programmes and social enterprises to fulfill its mission of providing training and employment for the disadvantaged.
- How do you find people to bring into your organisation that truly care about the organisation and its cause?
We do community engagements and conduct Centre visits for corporates, overseas guests and individuals to educate and share our works and programme.
- How important have good employees been to your success?
Good employees who share the same vision and passion for Bizlink’s causes have been the backbone of Bizlink. Some of whom worked many years in Bizlink.
- What kind of culture exists in your organisation? How do you establish this tone?
The culture in Bizlink is very community based where people from all walks of disadvantaged background come together for training and to make a simple living. To bond this community, Bizlink organises outings and celebrates festivals like Christmas and Chinese New Year.
- What do you think are the fundamental differences between a social and for-profit organisation?
One has a social mission and the other doesn’t.
- In the for-profit world, you keep score with sales revenue – how do you keep score in the not-for-profit world?
Not-for-profit organisations have to be sustainable like for-profit organisations. It is how funds can be raised or obtained to support the respective organisations. Not-for-profit organisations keep proper accounting books and have to have accountability to their funders.
- How does a social enterprise like Bizlink Centre attract talent when there aren’t high salaries and options?
Bizlink Centre offers good work-life balance while allowing individuals to “do good” serving in this sector.
- What are the things that keep potential social entrepreneurs from succeeding to fulfilling their potential?
- When funds run out and the business is no longer sustainable
- When social entrepreneurs burn out
- When manpower support is insufficient to run the operations
- What could the government or society do to encourage more social entrepreneurship?
- Educate on how to run a business wisely
- Provide less stringent financing scheme to help kick-start the social business
- Provide mentors and collaboration opportunities
Bizlink will be offering a new line of Canvas Crafts handcrafted by their very own People With Disabilities. Each product is made with precision and high quality material. Canvas crafts include out new line of Batik Craft too, all made by hand.
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