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COMPANY OF GOOD

A Good Space helps you help others

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From left: Melissa Kwee from NVPC, Melissa Tan from MCCY, Daniel Tay from Veggie Rescue, A Good Space co-found Anthea Ong, and Lim Wan Lee from Veggie Rescue.

CAN someone with an idea really make a significant impact on society? Last year, Daniel Tay came to us with a bold idea to transport tonnes of discarded food to needy families.

With the S$1,000 seed funding he received, he bought fuel for a truck on loan from a volunteer. Over 11 such "Veggie Rescue" missions, he rallied a team of 93 volunteers to transport over 22,000kg of discarded but safe-to-eat vegetables to soup kitchens and charities across Singapore, feeding over 5,000 people.

Mr Tay is not alone. There are 42 others, aged 16 to 77, who also came forward with their ideas during A Good Pitch by A Good Space, including.

A group of undergraduates created a social media campaign to raise awareness for bystander intervention against outrage of modesty cases on the MRT, of which a staggering 69 per cent go unreported.

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Two women organised a festival bringing Singaporeans and migrant workers together for an afternoon of games, conversation and friendship.

A pair of 77-year-old grandfathers started a project to bring seniors and youth together for inter-generational bonding and mentorship.

We believe in the power of individuals to create solutions to challenges instead of waiting for institutions to solve it for them. It's what prompted me to start A Good Space, a not-for-profit initiative, last year, with the support of National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) to create a group of community builders and changemakers to tackle social issues.

We then learnt of many individuals and groups who have great ideas for such community initiatives yet were unsure how to get started so we decided to launch A Good Pitch to give away S$1,000 plus access to a network of support resources to give them a headstart.

You might harbour a desire to do good and have an idea that could make a difference to the community, but you dismiss such thoughts as wishful thinking given how between work and family, there is little time or resources for anything else.

What if your employers were supportive of your ideas to do good, to be a changemaker?

We have seen how businesses can be a force of good and the positive impact they can make on communities.

Through the Company of Good initiative, NVPC has been engaging with more than 1,000 Singapore-based businesses by providing a community for corporate professionals to share their ideas and insights on corporate giving.

Some of these professionals have also collaborated with other Company of Good members to do more good through tapping the resources and networks of their employers, creating impact far greater than they would have achieved as individuals.

In late-2015, Deloitte conducted a survey with nearly 7,700 millennials from 29 countries, and discovered that a whopping 56 per cent of respondents had ruled out working for a company or organisation because of a lack of fit in values or a lack of positive impact that the company makes on the greater communities.

Employers and leaders know that employees are increasingly not looking just for their next promotion or pay rise - they seek meaning in their work and a way to make a difference in the cause and community they care about.

Studies have also shown that employees who feel that they have a purpose don't just stick around longer with the organisation, they also report 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and are 1.4 times more engaged at work. So beyond the standard volunteering activities, why not help them in becoming a changemaker?

This year, we decided to bring A Good Pitch: Corporate Edition to businesses for employees to come forward with their ideas for the social issues and communities they care about, with their employers' support.

Winning ideas will receive S$1,000 each from us as a kickstart, but more importantly, they get access to a community of other changemakers, mentorship and resources that will support them in implementing their projects.

The power to change lies within us all - only if we know where to begin. We do what we can, from where we are, with what we have.

Perhaps you may not be inspired by the S$1,000 or the network of possibilities that come with this social change initiative. Maybe you read this and move on with your daily routine.

If nothing else, I do hope that you will at least take a moment to give it some thought - if a person like Mr Tay can do so much with so little, what can you do with the power of more, especially with corporate resources?

  • Formerly a regional managing director for a UK-listed company here and Asian lead for its Global Responsibility Board, Anthea is a newly-appointed Nominated Member of Parliament and co-founder of A Good Space, which seeks to support changemakers in championing social issues.

A Good Pitch is supported by NVPC's Company of Good. For more information, go to http://bit.ly/agoodpitchcorporate