We are heartened by the Government's move to involve social enterprises and co-operatives in the management of hawker centres ("Not-for-profit model sought for 4 food centres"; Jan 4).
However, various groups have raised concerns about whether social enterprises are up to the task ("Hawkers unsure of not-for-profit model"; Monday).
There are successful case studies of food centres being sustainably run by social enterprises and co-operatives, such as NTUC Foodfare and the Jurong Shipyard Multi-purpose Co-operative Society, which operates the canteen at Jurong Shipyard.
By keeping food prices in check, they have helped to keep meals affordable for the workers they serve, amid rising food prices.
The initiative to involve social enterprises and co-operatives will not only open up more business opportunities for them to explore, but also add value to the business management model of the hawker centre.
Moreover, the goal to provide affordable food and employment resonates strongly with the co-operative mission to balance social goals with business viability.
Taking a longer-term view, we encourage existing hawker stall owners and operators to come together and form new co-operatives to manage hawker centres.
As owners, the stallholders will be able to determine factors like selling prices, and stall rentals and mix, as well as do bulk purchasing to make their hawker centre a viable business, while staying committed to the social mission of offering affordable and delicious food to their customers.
Dolly Goh (Ms)
Chief Executive Officer
Singapore National Co-operative Federation
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