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Singaporean entrepreneur shares experience in helping others

Singaporean entrepreneur shares experience in helping others

Taipei, March 7 (CNA) Elim Chew (???), the founder of a streetwear brand in Singapore, shared her experience Saturday in social work, saying that "rather than giving money away, it is better to teach people how to make money." Chew, together with six local social enterprise businesswomen, was invited by the Ministry of Health and Welfare to share her experience in using business to help solve social problems. Chew first took a hairdressing course in the United Kingdom and returned to Singapore to open a salon. She later founded her streetwear brand, 77th Street, opening seven shops in Singapore and a shopping center in Beijing. About 12 years ago, Chew and likeminded businesspeople founded the Singapore Street Festival, a platform for dropouts or unemployed young people to showcase their talents in areas such as the performing arts, fashion, entertainment and sports and find their confidence. After the young people made money from their performances, they realized that reading more could help them self-promote, which gave them the drive to pick up books again. Eight years ago, she expanded her social work to help young people and teenagers, as well as the physically challenged and the low-income sector, to earn more money. She has thus helped between 300 and 400 people earn 1 million Singapore dollars (US$725,637). She cited as an example the case of several old ladies skilled at making all kinds of fancy balloons who can make S$1,000 per day during important festivals. Since making their names, they are often invited to perform at corporate events and can pocket S$100 per hour, which is 10 times the average part-time hourly pay in Singapore. More importantly, Chew sets aside a corner of her shops, usually on paycheck days -- so that the underprivileged can sell their handicrafts to people who have just received their paychecks. Even though she is often called a social entrepreneur, she said that there are more good examples in her country. She cited Benny Se Teo, a famed chef who spent more than a decade in and out of prison and rehabilitation centers for drug-related offenses. He had difficulty in finding a steady job and later became determined to learn Italian cuisine from British chef Jamie Oliver and opened his own restaurant, Eighteen Chefs, where 40 percent of the staff are former inmates. After her years in social work, Chew is happy to say that "it is better to teach others to fish and sell them for money rather than giving them fishes." She said that while many of the underprivileged may have talent, they don't know their market skills, which is where she can contribute. (By Chen Ching-fang and Lilian Wu)


Updated : 2021-09-26 09:48 GMT+08:00