In the Business of Changemaking (Part 2)
It’s time to bring out the party hats- Make The Change (MTC) is four! To celebrate our birthday, let’s grab a cup of hot teh and see what our CEO has to say as we enter our year in the socio-creative landscape.
Q1: Congrats Michelle! It’s MTC’s fourth year, how do you feel?
Thank you. I feel awesome- I am very grateful to many organisations and great people whom we have met in the past 4 years. These people have been believing and supporting what we have been doing. I am also grateful to my team who devoted their time and energy to make this happen. Without their consistent sowing, we wouldn’t be celebrating our 4th anniversary this year.
Q2: What are the 4 most rewarding MTC highlights for you so far?
- MTC has supported 85 NGOs, VWOs and corporates in both small and big creative projects. The huge figures took me by surprise as we have a very lean team.
- MTC conducted trainings for youths-at-risk and persons with disabilities (PwDs). This allowed us to reach out and better understand their needs.
- Design For Good (DFG), our annual event, has been running for three years. It was first started to encourage secondary school students and the public to understand societal issues as we work together to solve them through empathy and design-thinking.
- Personally, the most rewarding part was seeing how our team responded to challenges each time. We have always been behaving like a start-up, asking ourselves: “WHY NOT?” at every turn. Carrying that spirit, our team constantly innovates with fresh ideas to Take The Chance, Make The Change.
Q3: What are the challenges that MTC faced and how did you and your team overcome it?
In running a sustainable social business, our challenges are very similar to SMEs. There are misconceptions of how we only hire volunteers. Just like other competitive firms, we hire talents, pay rent and incur operating costs from day to day as well. Other than that, we also encounter challenges in changing the mindsets of our clients (NGOs / VWOs / SMEs). Many still perceive that SEs should offer heavily-subsidised and almost pro-bono rates despite professional and quality services.
To me, clients should appreciate SEs more than any other vendors. Not only are we offering quality services, we are also channeling the resources to make a positive social impact for the needy community though our income, resources and time.
Beyond the business aspect, a social enterprise like us also have another mandate to fulfill and that is to benchmark our social impact to other charitable organisations. We prioritise transformative and sustainable impact over mass. Our focus is on the youth sector aged between 13 to 35 (youths-at-risk, persons with disabilities and ex-convicts). Designing relevant programs and activities to meet the needs of this group is a great challenge.
To overcome the challenges with innovative and effective solutions, we have to send our team for training. Be it learning from inspiring leaders overseas or locally, these platforms spark off innovative thinking and solutions in the socio-creative landscape. We also have a board of advisors who are active in the marketplace to guide us. Lastly, through our various touch points such as public activations and educational programs, we are at the frontier to sense changes and as a lean team, to respond in a strategic, timely and agile manner.
Q4: If you have to give an analogy to MTC’s journey since birth, what would it be?
To me, it is like parenting a child. You have to nurture, educate and guide a child with patience and love while also letting go at the right time to allow your child room to make mistakes so that he / she can stand on his / her own foot.
MTC is like a teenager to me now, he has his own position and identity within his circle of friends (community). From now onward, he has to continue building his capability and capacity to mature as an independent grown-up with a sharpened purpose and mission in life.
Q5: What do you envision for MTC’s future, as we move on to be half a decade old in 2018?
MTC will continue to strengthen its’ presence in the marketplace through excellent creative services and innovative community programs. We aim to become an excellent creative agency that can scale our impact globally. In the next 18 months, we will focus on building our team’s capability in acquiring talents and getting more business deals to be financially sustainable. We will actively look for the right partners to scale our community projects and leverage on technological / digital advantage to have a greater outreach and deeper impact.
And that’s all we have from Michelle and her thoughts on MTC’s fourth birthday. We are humbled and in awe of how far we have come on our journey for sustainable social good. Rome was never built in a day and it wouldn’t be possible without your support. We would like to express our gratitude to all of our fellow changemakers. Truly, we raise by lifting others up.
If you would like to be part of our changemaking community, drop us a mail and let’s chat over coffee!