#Asia Record $132k dished out to startups at Singapore social enterprise awards


India’s HelpUsGreen – which won multiple awards at SVC Asia 2017 – creates a range of products from waste flowers dumped ritually into the Ganges river. Photo credit: HelpUsGreen.

Eight social enterprise startups took home a total of US$132,000 in awards at the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia (SVC Asia) 2017 competition this week. It is the largest total prize fund in the pan-Asian contest’s four-year history.

Organized by DBS Foundation – the Singaporean bank’s social entrepreneurship initiative – and the National University of Singapore’s commercialization arm, NUS Enterprise, SVC Asia highlights innovative projects and business proposals that “demonstrate positive, scalable, and sustainable social impact within the region.”

Dell, Experian, Syngenta, and the HEAD Foundation, a Singapore-based think tank, also backed the competition.

Six prizes worth US$14,600 apiece in the SVC Asia Enterprise Category were awarded to startups that have already begun generating revenue and are seeking to scale their businesses, with the money coming from DBS Foundation. The winners were:

  • ANA by Karma (Hong Kong) – Social enterprise that helps Bhutanese women set up hand-weaving businesses and market their products.
  • Crowde (Indonesia) – Online crowdfunding platform connecting small-scale farms with retail investors.
  • Haqdarshak (India) – Uses artificial intelligence to help Indian citizens navigate bureaucratic obstacles and apply for government and non-government financial assistance schemes.
  • HelpUsGreen (India) – Employs local women to recycle flowers ritually dumped in the Ganges river, turning them into products including organic fertilizers, incense, and biodegradable packaging. HelpUsGreen also received the SVC Asia Judges’ Choice Award.
  • Imagtor (Vietnam) – Photo and video editing service providing vocational training and career guidance to disabled people.
  • TEMU (Indonesia) – Collects data from employers through mobile and web apps that it uses to match with prospective employees from the poorest parts of society.

Two further prizes worth US$3,660 were awarded in the SVC Asia Idea Category, targeting startups at the validation or trial stage that are in the process of building a minimum viable product:

  • Evoware (Indonesia) – An estimated 90% of Indonesia’s waste plastic is dumped into the sea. Evoware wants to develop biodegradable, eco-friendly, and even edible bioplastics from sustainably-produced seaweed.
  • CocoAsenso (Philippines) – Establishing a network of coconut processing plants in remote regions of the Philippines to process crops directly from local farmers and provide them with training, financing, and employment opportunities.

Crowde also received the US$14,600 Syngenta Agriculture Social Enterprise Award, while Imagtor and TEMU each won US$3,660 Dell Digital Awards for projects that make the best use of digital technologies to have social impact. Imagtor claimed the US$14,600 HEAD Foundation Innovative Social Enterprise Award for the best proposed use of technology and innovation for education.

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