“We make it clear to the public that we are not grant funders,” Foundation Board Chairman Mr Benjamin Pwee said. The Pwee Foundation’s strategy relies on collaboration and sustainability, and only issues very few grants because “the grant eventually run out”.
Grants are issued primary to meet ‘gap needs’. The Foundation’s focus is on helping organisations build capacity and to provide special expertise where needed. The Foundation’s new partners include Malay Muslim help group Pertapis, environmental group Hemispheres Foundation, and Junior Achievement and Hewlett-Packard for their joint Social Innovation Relay.
In addition, the Pwee Foundation has been invited to join the Board of the Bottom of the Pyramid Hub and to provide organisational consulting for the next three months. The Foundation will also provide support and assistance to the Arab Network Singapore.
During the presentation, Mr Pwee also discussed the Foundation’s history and goals. Beginning with seed funding and donations from several families, the Pwee Foundation organised a series of invite-only talks on various topics. These talks, doubling as networking opportunities, created opportunities to make a difference.
The Pwee Foundation’s efforts paid off mainly in the fields of youths at risk and the elderly. The Foundation worked with Boys’ Town Home to develop the Work Attachment Readiness Programme, giving these youths job opportunities at Eclat, Relish, California Fitness and the Sustainable Living Lab. I-initium is another partner, hiring youths from “challenging families” as couriers in the financial district.
“The ideal is to set up two or three employers to set up an employers’ circle, to bring in more employers to hire more boys,” he said. When the ecosystem was in place, the Foundation would move on.
In the area of the elderly, the Foundation tried to meet the whole range of elderly needs. It raised funding for the Silverline mobile phone app, partnered with Silver Spring to help seniors who could work, Singapore Hospice Council for seniors who could not work, and supported the Singapore Hospice Council’s financial needs. It also supported Newton Circus’ Active Ageing Hackathon to develop ways to further the concept of active ageing.
Other successes include social impact investing and incubation of social enterprises. The Pwee Foundation assisted independent energy company Sun-ee and technology firm TerraTech in raising funds for their ventures. The Pwee Foundation will also pick the best social enterprise concepts during the Social Innovation Relay, and help the teams develop sustainable business plans and raise funds.
Over the past year, the Pwee Foundation had been testing and modifying its approach. “It’s like playing with plasticine and throwing it at the ceiling. We found that some things stick and some things fall down,” Mr Pwee said.
The Foundation’s future approach will be based on three Cs – not all of which had been defined yet.
“We’re going to focus a lot more on raising capital. We’re going to do a lot more work in capacity building. And the third is something to do with collaboration.”