December 2022 Issue: Co-operator Newsletter Quarterly December 2022

Championing social good together: Transforming the non-profit sector

Championing social good together: Transforming the non-profit sector
Caption: Championing social good together: Transforming the non-profit sector

By Sng Ler Jun

Non-profit organisations (NPOs) in Singapore have safeguarded the interests of communities in myriad ways. There are social enterprises that strive to benefit certain demographics and there are co-operatives, a form of regulated social enterprise owned and controlled by their members to realise their common economic and social needs.

At their flagship face-to-face conference ‘Transforming the Non-Profit Sector 2022’ (TNPS) on October 4, organisers Institute of Policy Studies – Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (IPS) and Tote Board brought together different non-profit entities, representatives from public agencies, and academics to discuss the roles the non-profit sector plays today.

IPS forum x SNCF

The theme for this year is “Solutions that Help One Another”. The full-day event, which took place at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre, featured three plenaries which explored how NPOs can harness existing assets and discover new ways to help communities help themselves. The conference also covered how different forms of learning can help unlock a community’s learning capacity.

Guest-of-Honour, Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore (MSF) and Mr Fong Yong Kian, Chief Executive, Tote Board were present at the event. Mr Ang Hin Kee, chief executive of Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF), was invited as a panellist in one of the plenary discussions.

“A lot of the co-operatives in Singapore and elsewhere started out as ground-up initiatives. They started because there was a need that certain infrastructure or system cannot quite serve,” Mr Ang said, explaining the motivation for co-operatives to form. Mr Ang also clarified that members in co-operatives are not shareholders but stakeholders, with the latter wanting a say in decision-making in running the business.

On whether platform co-operatives can be leaned upon to improve social mobility, Mr Ang explained that continuous innovation will be required for platform co-ops to stand out and compete with other key competitors in the market. “Will consumers go to you? Will consumers favour (platform co-operatives) more than other platforms out there?”, he questioned. By definition, platform co-operatives are co-ops that leverage digital or online platforms to exchange key units: information, goods and services, and a currency.


Mr Ang is also an advisor to the National Trades Union Congress’ Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit, National Instructors and Coaches Association, and National Taxi Association and National Private Hire Vehicles Association. The panel had also earlier discussed whether gig economy workers, such as delivery or taxi riders, can band together to create platform co-operatives. “Some of the delivery riders are transient workers who took on delivery gigs to make a living during the pandemic,” he said.

Mr Ang is joined by Ms Denise Liu from social initiative Abundant Community, Ms Rachel Loh, a participant of the Baltimore Study Trip, and Mr Lewin Low from social enterprise solve n+1.

Image credits to Jacky Ho from IPS.

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Who we are

SNCF is the apex body of Singapore’s Co-operative Movement, and secretariat of the Central Co-operative Fund (CCF). Formed in 1980 with the aim of championing Singapore’s Co-operative Movement, the apex body represents majority of co-operative members in Singapore through its affiliated co-operatives.