Indian community in Singapore on a mission to develop socially relevant enterprises

Gurdip Singh
·3-min read

Singapore, Feb 20 (PTI) The Indian community in Singapore, as part of a six-month-long entrepreneurial initiative, is backing 16 youth-driven start-ups which aim to develop socially relevant enterprises.

The six-month-long entrepreneurial initiative -- CATALYSE 2020: Startup with a Heart -- brought together 150 students, mostly of Indian origin, who had the common goal of creating a socially conscientious business. The students were divided into 16 teams.

At an awards ceremony for the best start-up projects on Saturday, chairman of Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) T Chandroo said his office will provide entrepreneurial guidance to each of the 16 teams and help them pitch to potential investors.

Chandroo estimated that each start-up would require between SGD 50,000 to SGD 250,000 to develop their ideas into viable businesses.

The inaugural event henceforth will be held once in every two years.

Chandroo said the programme was run for over six months, especially through live video meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

'Mentorship is a critical part of the entrepreneurship journey,' said Singapore Minister of State Alvin Tan, officiating the awards ceremony.

Appreciating the joint efforts of the Indian community, Tan encouraged the community leaders to continue exploring new business ideas and realising them.

Apart from the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CATALYSE 2020 was supported by seven other Indian associations, namely People's Association Indian Activity Executive Committees Council Youth (called 'Narpani Pearavai' in Tamil), SINDA Youth Club, Tamils Representative Council Youth Wing and Young Sikh Association.

'Innovation and entrepreneurship will play a critical role in driving our (Singapore's economic) growth and ensuring that we remain at the forefront of global competitiveness,' said Tan, who heads the Trade, Industry, Culture, Community and Youth Ministries.

Tan underlined the importance of entrepreneurship in the future, in the context of a rapidly evolving world.

Among the winning startups was 'My Bionic Bear' by Indian-origin Singapore students Deepak Alagusubramanian, Mathan Chidambaranathan and Gajula Anirudh.

'Our vision is to create a generation of students who are inquisitive, innovative and strive to explore the world around them through an active hands-on approach,' they said.

The 'My Bionic Bear' product comes in an assembly kit consisting of laser-cut wooden pieces and electrical components.

Users will assemble the pieces following a visual tutorial with the guidance of a teacher or parent.

'Our mission is to provide a realistic hands-on engineering experience and allow basic circuit theory to be applied in the construction of a bionic bear,' the team said.

Another winner was the 'Hearty Spices' by Indian origin students Senthilkumar Subramanian, Tania Chattopadhyay and Iswariya Subramanian.

Start-up 'Hearty Spices' sells a Turmeric Latte Mix, a blend of seven traditional spices in a western-style coffee mix to enjoy a healthy and refreshing drink, explained the three-member team.

'When consumed regularly, the spice mix has numerous health benefits such as helping to improve immunity, regulate blood sugar, and even support heart health. The latte is also easy to make (just mix it with hot milk) and tastes great!' they said.

Startup 'UVtensils' by Singaporean students Ganesh Gunasekeran, Tan Wanting Megan and Noorul Ameen Mohamed Nawfa aims to reduce the use of single-use plastic by making reusable utensils more convenient.

'Our product is a compact, self-sterilising portable utensil kit that time-pressed consumers may bring around for their daily usage.

'To complement the UV sterilisation function, our product will feature a compact compartment with biodegradable wet wipes for maximum convenience and portability. This will eliminate the hassle of washing the utensils after each use,' explained the trio. PTI GS IND IND