- Press Release
Singapore, Sydney, Manila, 21 March 2017 – Singtel today announced a partnership with Optus and Globe Telecom to collaborate on its social innovation programme, Singtel Future Makers. The joint initiative seeks to help enterprising individuals and organisations in Singapore, Australia, and the Philippines, which are addressing community needs through the bold, innovative use of technology, to grow and scale their businesses.
Singtel Future Makers 2017 follows the success of the inaugural launch in Singapore and Australia last year, where seven local social start-ups were selected in both Singapore and Australia from more than 150 applicants. They received mentoring and financial backing to scale up their ideas. The new programme will provide successful applicants with more than S$500,000 in cash grants and four months of business workshops, mentoring, and coaching support from industry experts.
Through this programme, successful applicants will gain a unique opportunity to grow their organisational capabilities, refine their business models, and make a bigger social impact. The top participants from Singapore, Australia, and the Philippines with the potential to scale their solutions regionally will have the chance to participate in a regional tier of funding and a workshop for regional capability building.
Mr. Andrew Buay, Singtel’s Vice President of Group Sustainability said, “We believe in the power of technology and innovation to tackle the challenges faced by the vulnerable in our communities. The fact that many social issues transcend geographical boundaries, makes it all the more important that we expand the Singtel Future Makers programme beyond Singapore, to give change makers with the most promising solutions the opportunity to scale regionally. Through Singtel Future Makers, our goal is to nurture a vibrant social innovation ecosystem by collaborating with our associates, partners and social enterprises to deliver greater positive social impact where it matters.”
Ms. Yoly Crisanto, Globe Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications and Chief Sustainability Officer said: “We recognise the impact of technology in addressing many social issues that the country is facing at the moment. By participating in the Singtel Future Makers programme, through Globe Future Makers, we help bring out the ecosystem of social innovators that are critical in turning the tide against various social issues like extreme poverty, malnutrition and lack of healthcare, limited access to education, and social discrimination. We are looking forward to many participants from the Philippines joining this programme and supporting us in doing a Globe of Good.”
Singtel Future Makers 2017 is open for applications from March 21 to May 7. The programme will commence in June and conclude with a regional pitch day in November 2017.
Dr. Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State for Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Education speaking at the Singtel Future Makers 2017 launch.
Second from left: Mano Karan, CEO of Enabled Singapore, Chua Sock Koong, Singtel Group CEO, Dr. Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State for Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Education, and Andrew Buay, Singtel Group Sustainability, trying out an interactive app, developed by Enabled Singapore, to help train caregivers and healthcare workers to provide professional care for persons with disabilities and the elderly. Enabled Singapore is one of the seven start-ups which completed the Singtel Future Makers programme 2016.
"Family is not an important thing. It's everything" Michael J. Fox.
I suppose, most people will agree with him but like me, his reasons for concluding that would be far different from most. We are both similar in one very compelling aspect, besides the height of course! He got Parkinson to contend with and I have Transverse Myelitis. Both diseases are crippling and without our families we would not have survived let alone lead such meaningful lives.
Imagine waking up in the wee hours of the morning drenched in perspiration and the stench of urine soaked diaper. Having an "episode", non descriptive term for a multi faceted sensory overload sensation, mother of all pains. For a man in his 40s such experiences are agonizing and embarrassing by themselves but what brings it to a completely different intensity altogether is the presence of my 10 years old daughter. My 2nd primary care giver. Fathers changing nappies are always nostalgically looked back with much fondness. Regrettably that cannot be said of daughters seeing fathers in diapers.
Yet that was what my family of 3 had to face every day. Both my wife and daughter had no clue what to expect or do during those chaotic and depressing early days of my recuperation. Simple mindless activity of moving from a bed to a chair became a complicated affair. If fact, it took 3 of us to coordinate that alone. More challenges followed in quick succession. Turning me regularly to avoid pressure sores, dressing, bathing, using the wheelchair properly, draining the bladder and maintaining bowel hygiene suddenly became the new normal of our lives. The result; too many close shaves to recall. Too many accidents and pains pursued us relentlessly the following months and years.
"Family is not an important thing. It's everything" Michael J. Fox. A family photo of myself Anjali and Bee Leng.
Although my wife took care of my very private care needs, my daughter became my protector. Her gaze was always on what I was doing and she was always just a grabbing distance away, ever watchful and ready to catch me or break my fall if I tipped. Our roles reversed from that time on wards. My safety became her paramount concern. She guarded my every move like a father would a child.
It was then was I engulfed by a truly uncomfortable and morbid realization; My dear daughter had to stop transition into her teens forever. Instead she was suddenly catapulted into the world of an adult. Not just any adult but one with huge responsibilities. On her young slender shoulders rested her father's life and well-being. She had to from that day forward, put her dad's welfare ahead of hers. She had become a Caregiver literally overnight without the slightest consciousness or skill set of how to.
I lived another 8 years shutting myself from acknowledging the reality around me. A growing apathetic population, numerous people on wheelchairs on the trains and sidewalks, huge increase in seniors with Dementia, dirty and "Disabled" accessible toilets, bad excuses for elevator breakdown and the list went on.
Finally in 2014, I embarked on a quest to find like minded persons to assist me understand the core issues surrounding disability. Forefront in my quest is the determination to empower and cherish those caring for disabled family member. I was unwavering in my aspiration to stop shoving loving family members into a situation similar to that both my daughter and wife were thrust into. Our Asian cultural value system dictates that assistance should be provided by family member first, however, are they adequately equipped to take on that humongous responsibility of being a Caregiver?
A photo taken with Huy on our first meeting at Little India, Singapore.
By sheer luck found Huy Nguyen, an Australian disability advocate who was very willing to help. Borrowed 5 thousand dollars on the back of my wife's insurance and went to Australia to work with him. Founded Enabled.sg (www.enabled.sg) a social enterprise in Singapore and went from school to school pleading with teachers and principals for an opportunity to impress young minds to the needs of our society especially those with disability and the ageing. Endless countless mind numbing rejections followed. Super-elated when I got to do the first workshop. A feeling that I have broken all barriers to my goal bolstered my spirit.
A photo from our study programs visiting Chaoyang School by Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN).
Two years and 700 plus students later, Huy, Angela and I had a rude reality check. We had 1 million more students to reach let alone people in the service, health, corporate and governmental sectors. Our experiential in-person workshops were receiving impressive reviews but to truly effect change , our dissemination process had to be sped up. Customizing content to the needs of individual organization was clearly a priority. We were swept by the swells of the sea of blissfully ignorant people. To stay afloat, we needed a scalable, appealing and modifiable solution.
In 2016, Huy mooted the idea of using a gaming platform to create an App to achieve a more comprehensive solution that would address all our pain points. It had the potential to reach and rapidly impact Singapore’s community and align with the modern era of engagement through mobile devices . The seed for Enabler was planted on that very day.
A screen capture of the Enabler training app prototype for Caregivers.
Enabler is being to built train and engage caregivers and social workers to provide professional services for people with disability and senior citizens.
It is a mobile learning platform which improves the life of my family and I, as well as the many lives of people who are in similar situation to us - people who look after their family members with disability and senior parents. Caregivers learning through this platform can work through real-world crisis scenarios that prepares them for real life events such as falling over or having medication complications. With this platform, caregivers can hone their skills in a safe environment, learn from mistakes and be ready to provide the best experience for people in their care.
Where will your donations go?
Every dollar donated to Enabled will help to develop the first general module of Introduction to Disability used to engage different establishments from social worker training organisations, schools and community groups to gauge the usefulness in raising awareness and increasing knowledge of people with disability and our senior citizens. The more funds we raise, the more modules we can create for Caregivers such as How to Safely Transfer a Person, Identifying Abuse and Neglect and Managing Medication.
Singtel is supporting this crowdfunding campaign with a 1-for-1 matching (up to S$10,000) as part of the Singtel Future Makers social innovation programme. To find out more about Singtel Future Makers, please visit https://futuremakers.singtel.com