Hui Teng, Parnita Rane– founders of Changebug, a social enterprise, that co-create initiatives with the community, for the community. They focus on action, not just on ideas. By bringing together experts, mentors, volunteers & funders to support passionate individuals, they help to kickstart initiatives in the target community to solve real problems on the ground.
Q1: What do you appreciate yourself in the business mainly for?
It’s been 1,5 year and we still go ahead. Our success is more about developing the person, the skills he/she gains, the impact he/she can make. A lot of people when they come to us they are 18-19 years old, not sure what they want to do, without any experience. I remember one participant, extremely shy, she couldn’t even introduce herself. But throughout the program she grew the most, being exposed to the community, coming out with a final solution, being put into action… It’s been 9 months after the program and she is still running her project. She manages different people. She created an interactive travel map for people on wheelchair. She came to us with nothing more than passion. Everything else was gained on the way. The difference between the moment she entered the program and now it’s amazing. Our participants keep coming back after the program to ask questions. Help and being available for them is also an important part of our job. After 6 months 85% of them continue their project. It’s more than we expected.
Q2: What is the biggest challenge for you now?
Changing perspectives and mindsets. I think a social enterprise is still something very new and special. My friends don’t even know what social enterprise means. Since we are in an early stage, a lot of people like to do things which have good marketing, exposure, which are cool and can be done in really short time. Like hackatons, 1-2 days events. Convincing people that you have to be involved in the community in order to create valuable and long lasting solutions to social issues is quite difficult and takes a lot of people off. Which is ok. We are quite lucky to have few partners, more enlighten people, who really try to go beyond traditional giving. Very often it’s not just money which our partners bring, but also their experience, workers and volunteers. Real involvement, much bigger contribution than money.
Q3: What advice do you have for yourself in this situation?
Continue with community engagement programs. Getting more changemakers excited about being part of the community. And while we do it we want more people to gain skills that they need. Maybe they don’t have to start an enterprise, the most important are those small changes people can do in their community, around themselves.
Would you like to add something else?
Before you really put a lot of resources into your idea, check it. Whatever it is, ask people first if they really want it or not, check things on the ground. Don’t guess, just ask.
The questions were asked on our behalf by Anna and Andrea from How to (ex) change the world.
Singapore, 20th April, 2016