Social Entreprenuership

DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia Semi-Finalists revealed

Improved education; better healthcare and sanitation; and eco-friendly technologies to tackle climate change. With hopes of turning such idealistic notions into concrete business plans, 418 teams have entered the inaugural DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia. Organised by NUS Enterprise, in partnership with DBS Bank, this is a regional start-up competition that aims to raise awareness and build a culture of social entrepreneurship in Asia.

social venture singapore competition 2014

DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia

NUS Enterprise and DBS Bank today revealed the top 12 semi-finalists, who have made it to the next round of the competition. These are:

1) Bodhi Health Education (India) aims to improve healthcare in India and developing countries by boosting knowledge of healthcare workers. The team has developed quality medical training solutions for health workers, using affordable android tablets.

2) Brün – Every Pregnancy Monitored (India) is developing a tool for electronic foetal monitoring. This is able to monitor critical parameters during pregnancy, including the foetal heart rate, uterine contractions, maternal blood pressure and maternal heart rate.

3) Damascus Fortune Technologies (India) is a nanotech start-up that has a patented technology that transforms harmful carbon emissions into usable carbon nanomaterials, which have widespread applications. This eco-friendly technology is making carbon sequestering profitable, while also reducing carbon emissions.

4) Interclo Designs Survival Plus Clothing (Singapore) has created a clothing-aid product for survivors of natural disasters, called the ‘Survival Plus’ jacket. This is a single, multi-functional item that serves as a jacket, blanket, shawl, mat and sleeping bag. It can be air dropped to any location within 24-48 hours.

5) Kitabisa (Indonesia) is an online crowd-funding collaboration platform for social causes. It aims to bring together people with ideas and people who have resources. (website in Bahasa Indonesia)

6) Let’s be Well-Red (India) aims to combat iron-deficiency anaemia in India by raising awareness about this prevalent nutritional disorder and manufacturing/ selling its GudNeSs nutritional bar. GudNeSs is an easy-to-eat, palatable and affordable nutritional supplement that provides sufficient iron for a person’s daily requirement.

7) Local Alike (Thailand) is a community-based tourism booking platform that connects hosts from Thai communities to global travellers. This social venture aims to preserve local cultures, while also providing economic opportunities for local people, by supporting local homestays, local tour guides and unique local activities.

8) Maya Universe Academy (Nepal) is a non-profit, community-run organisation that provides rural communities of Nepal with a viable and holistic approach to education and economic development, through its schools and farms.

9) Science of Life Studies 24/7 (Cambodia/ Japan/ Singapore) provides high quality and holistic education programmes for disadvantaged and at-risk youths from poor communities across Cambodia, Timor Leste, Malaysia and Laos. Education is provided in areas of English, Computer skills, ICT, accountancy and character/ leadership skills.

10) Tinker Tank (India) is a social enterprise that designs and disseminates need-based, appropriate, low-cost tools and machines, to achieve menial tasks easily, efficiently and more productively. This aims to reduce the drudgery of intense manual-labour, which is often faced by poor women workers engaged in cottage-based industries in India and to increase their livelihood opportunities.

11) Water for All (India) is providing affordable clay-based water filters that are both electricity and maintenance free.

12) Zaya Learning Labs (India) offers a network of low-cost schools empowered by a blended learning model that delivers a high-quality learning experience to underprivileged children across the developing world.

To help these 12 teams refine and validate their business ideas, they will participate in a three-day Boot-camp (19-21 March 2014) held in Singapore. They will be paired with experienced mentors, who will guide them through the validation and refinement of their business models.

Teams will then submit a detailed business plan by mid-April 2014. After one more round of judging, selected finalists will be gunning for the top prize of $30,000 and a trophy, followed by $$15,000 and $10,000 as first and second runner up respectively. See Annex 1 for the timeline of the competition and judging criteria.

“We received 418 submissions from nearly 20 countries, with a total of 1,186 participants signing up for this challenge, the first of its kind in Asia. This overwhelming response for the competition demonstrates the growing interest in starting social enterprises, to solve some of the problems facing society today. At NUS Enterprise, we have established a social venture incubation programme to help nurture such ideas so they can hopefully transform into scalable, sustainable social enterprises that can make positive global impact,” explained Professor Wong Poh Kam, Director, NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, part of NUS Enterprise.

Other interesting data from the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia entries include:

  • Approximately 54% of the entries were new ideas and 42% were from existing social enterprises (remaining 4% being a combination of both).
  • The top three industries of submitted business ideas were web/ mobile (29%), education (27%) and healthcare/ sanitation (19%).
  • The top three countries of impact were India (39%), Indonesia (16%) and Singapore (11%).
  • The top three target beneficiaries of the submitted business ideas were Bottom-of-the-Pyramid[1] (35%), the Public[2] (18%) and At-risk Youth (14%)
  • 38% of the participants were female
  • 40% of the participants were students, 26% were employees and 21% were self employed
  • Participants were predominantly young, with 42% aged 19-24 years, 30% aged 25-30 years, 18% aged 31-40 years and 8% over 40 years.

To know more about the challenge visit

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