By Melissa Sim
A CENTRE was launched yesterday to promote and study the art of using entrepreneurial principles to manage a business that brings about positive social change.
Part of the National University of Singapore Business School, the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy (CSEP) hopes to advance research in the field and encourage students, alumni and staff to contribute to the community.
This follows the setting up of the Lien Foundation Centre for Social Innovation at the Singapore Management University in 2006, which also conducts research on the social sector.
The dean of the NUS Business School, Professor Bernard Yeung, said that the CSEP had been set up at the right time - when problems such as poverty, food shortages and lack of health care had been exacerbated by the economic downturn.
He said the school 'wants and needs to be part of these efforts to address social problems' to give something back to the larger community.
The centre received a gift of $1.5 million from the Mrs Lee Choon Guan Trust Fund, a sum matched by the Singapore Government.
Mr Keith Chua, a co-trustee of the trust fund, said he hoped that every NUS Business School student would graduate as a 'more passionately responsible and contributing member of society'.
He also expressed hope that social responsibility and entrepreneurship would become a part of the NUS curriculum and even an area of specialisation.
The CSEP has already been conducting research on volunteerism among undergraduates in NUS and collecting data from grant-making entities in Singapore.
It found that education was a widely supported cause, followed by social welfare. Culture, the arts and sports drew less backing.
Another finding was that religiosity increased the chances of an individual becoming involved in volunteer work.
Research aside, the CSEP has also provided seed funding to projects with a social cause; it will fund upcoming expeditions to Vietnam and China.
The centre's director, Associate Professor Albert Teo, said: 'We want the students to find out what works, the root cause of poverty, and how to develop social enterprise projects for these communities.'
This article was first published in The Straits Times.