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More than 500 youth competed in Singapore’s only co-operative social enterprise business challenge

creathon2021 group photo semifinals 16012021Group photo of CREATHON 2021 participants during Semi Finals held on 16 January 2021

Singapore, 18 January 2021 – A ground-up initiative connecting people with urban food sources to tackle food security, an issue that came into the spotlight during the global COVID-19 pandemic, clinched the top prize comprising a cash prize of S$4,000 and a funding of S$10,000 if their application as a co-operative is successful, at the CREATHON business challenge organised by the Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF). The business challenge provides a platform for local enterprising youth to collectively come up with innovative solutions to address social and economic challenges facing Singapore today.

The winner of the Open Category is Urban Origins, a five-person team led by Suzanna Farid Tang. Their business plan revolves around a co-operative platform dedicated to all local food sources in Singapore by being a marketplace that aggregates local urban farm produce, agri-food tech products, upcycled food, alternative protein and home-based Food and Beverage businesses, for consumers. Its social mission is to fortify local food sources for the future of our food security. It prides itself in providing consumers with a curated list of all local food options, from ingredients to ready-to-eat, that are fresh, safe, traceable, sustainable, and lowest in food miles.

URBAN ORIGINS 2Winner of CREATHON 2021 Open Category, Urban Origins, featuring Suzanna Farid Tang (bottom) and the judges.

Suzanna Farid Tang, 28, founder of Urban Origins, said: “The biggest takeaway from participating in CREATHON was to attend workshops and openly getting feedback from mentors from different co-operatives and social enterprises. They gave us valuable feedback on how we can structure and run our co-operative business better and take it to the next level. Moving forward, we want to engage our local food companies to partner them and collaborate closely with them. Onboarding them onto our platform along with home-based Food and Beverage businesses will help us build an ecosystem of local food sources, making it much more convenient and affordable for consumers to support and buy a variety of locally-produced food.”

Back for its second run, CREATHON is the only co-operative social enterprise business challenge in Singapore. An idea accelerating event aimed at triggering innovative thinking, entrepreneurial spirit, and business development in youth, CREATHON challenges participants to conceptualise and develop solutions using the co-operative business model, to help address any particular social issue of today.

This year’s competition saw a record participation of 104 teams, up from just 40 teams last year, competing across three categories: School Category (aged 13-17), Institute of Higher Learning Category (aged 17-23) and the Open Category (aged 17-35). The Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) Category is introduced this year to cater to IHL students.

Following two rounds of evaluation in December and January, 15 finalists presented their business ideas in the live finals yesterday (17 Jan), which took place over Zoom and Facebook Live on SNCF’s Facebook page.

Winner of CREATHON 2021 IHL Category, Life Changers, featuring team members from Life Changers (bottom) and the judges. Winner of CREATHON 2021 School Category, Fortino, featuring team members from Fortino.

The winning idea in the IHL Category came from ITE College Central (IHL Category) who presented their plans to create a mobile app platform to support ex-offenders by connecting them with job opportunities and offering them free IT and resume writing workshops that are conducted by volunteers and counselling services. Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary) emerged the winner of the School Category. The team presented the idea of a food delivery service that aims to alleviate the food waste problem by using soon-to-expire ingredients and turning them into affordable, nutritious meals.

Loke Jun Hui, 22, team leader of Life Changers from ITE College Central, shared that their CREATHON journey started out when their lecturer knew about the competition and reached out to them. They felt encouraged when their lecturer, Ms Peh Bee Ling, believed in them. The journey has evolved into one that is also inspired by their own personal encounters with ex-offenders as the team learnt how difficult it was for them to start afresh. “Through this idea, we wanted to help them to get back on the right track,” said Jun Hui.

Mr Ang Hin Kee, Chief Executive Officer of SNCF said: “I am heartened to see so many youth taking up the challenge to come up with innovative solutions to help address the social challenges that we are facing in our society. Seeing the exchange of ideas also paints a good picture on the concerns of the next generation – from reducing food waste and promoting sustainable living to looking after the mental wellness of youths and supporting vulnerable groups such as the elderly and single mothers. More importantly, we get to hear from them on new ways to tackle social and economic issues and impact the community in a positive and sustainable way.”

Judging the finals were Tines Anabarasan, committee member of A Good Space Co-operative and a co-founder of SerendipET, a social enterprise which offers experiential learning programmes for all demographics and psychographics; Leow Teck Sim, Chairman of Ngee Ann  Polytechnic  Consumer  Co-operative and  Chairman  of  Campus Co-operatives Sector; Russ Neo, Founder of Social Collider, a collaborative, co-working, and co-innovation community for impact organisations; and Kristy Ho, Registrar of Co-operative Societies.

Participating youth also had the opportunity to gain entrepreneurial and business advice through talks, workshops, and mentorships with affiliated co-operatives such as Agape Energy Efficiency Co-operative, social entrepreneurs such as the founders of Infinite Transports and Inclus, and SNCF. They also networked and connected with like-minded individuals with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and exchanged ideas with one another.

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