Two common things come to mind when ‘social enterprise’ is mentioned – non-profit and corporate social responsibility.
Let’s be real – social enterprises are barely looked at when juxtaposed against sexy start-ups boasting the latest technology that promise an abundance of economic opportunities. As a result, social enterprises are often overlooked when it comes to receiving funding.
Edward Yee, 24, makes it his mission to tackle that.
He is the co-founder and CEO of GivFunds, a social enterprise based in India that provides low-cost loans to South Asian social enterprises to empower them, create greater impact and change lives.
Edward Yee is also Singapore’s first Rhode scholar in 14 years, a double degree holder in Business and Accounting and a globetrotter who has backpacked across the world. Furthermore, he’s heading to Oxford University in October 2019 to pursue two Master Degrees. Oh, and he’s dyslexic.
The reason behind his success? “Luck!” Edward says with a chuckle.
He shares one of his favourite quotes by Isaac Newton, his humble recipe for success: “if I’ve seen further than others, it’s by standing upon the shoulders of giants”. He emphasises that it’s because of the “giants” he had the incredible fortune to meet that helped sharpen how he sees the world and got him to where he is today.
But why choose to give back through impact financing despite the numerous difficulties? “I think I’ve gotten more from passing it on rather than not doing so. I got more than I could ever dream of when I shouldn’t have,” Edward emphasises.
He recounts his most memorable backpacking experience – when he was on a train in Bangladesh. A local was helping Edward and his friends up onto the rooftop of a moving train. The train conductor was livid when he found out. The local who had extended a helping hand got beaten up and punished as they wouldn’t do anything to Edward; his status and privilege as a foreigner protected him like an amulet.
“That’s when I learnt how much my life was worth just because of where I came from,” says Edward. These backpacking experiences became valuable life lessons and helped him foster relationships, find clarity and purpose. He even met his GivFunds co-founder on a train in India!
This incredibly humble 24-year-old is now channelling his energy and talent into impact financing so that he can lift the giants that have lifted him up before.