Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam made a visit to social enterprise Eighteen Chefs today to urge Singaporeans to move beyond financial contributions to give their time, talent, and business acumen to help the less fortunate.
Eighteen Chefs is a cafe that employs ex-offenders and delinquents, which was founded by ex-offender Benny Se Teo. It trains employees to become chefs and to acquire the necessary culinary skills for a career in the food business.
“In 2009, we expanded too fast. From one shop, we had four shops. Right now, we have three, and we closed one shop. And it’s very painful to close an eatery and it costs a lot of money,” said Teo. Since opening it has created employment opportunities for over 50 ex-offenders.
During the visit, President Tan learned of operational challenges and constraints of social enterprises in the food and beverage industry. He was encouraged by the work of Eighteen Chefs and said that social enterprises are good examples of how successful and able Singaporeans can help the less fortunate and disadvantaged in society in a sustainable way.
“There is an old Chinese saying ‘if you give a person a fish, he eats for one day, but if you teach him to fish, then he can live for many days because he can earn his own living’. I think the social enterprise, in that sense, is good,” he said.
President Tan added that the government will do its part to support those who help themselves and fellow citizens, with new resources such as the ComCare Enterprise Fund to provide seed funding for social enterprises.
Photo from Eighteen Chefs.
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