Syakir Hashim, Co-founder of SkolaFund — Crowdfunding for Educational Success
SkolaFund is a scholarship crowdsourcing platform that matches deserving underprivileged undergraduates with funders. It is on a mission to make quality higher education accessible to everyone that qualifies for it, regardless of financial status.
SkolaFund is one of the inaugural recipients of the Lotus-NUS Fund in 2017, in support of start-ups that are founded by Singaporean entrepreneurs and are involved in social enterprise projects. We spoke to Syakir Hashim, co-founder of SkolaFund and an NUS Global Studies graduate, about his entrepreneurial journey.
What is your biggest struggle as an entrepreneur?
The biggest struggle would be against one’s self. Identifying one’s own weaknesses and strengths, and working with them effectively would be a challenge that I sought to face very early on in my entrepreneurship journey.
How is SkolaFund different from other similar platforms in the market?
Being focused on a vertical like higher education financing helped SkolaFund carve out a niche in the crowdfunding space. The focus gave SkolaFund the ability to dive deeper into understanding the mechanics of helping less-privileged students and helping universities fundraise better. Every type of crowdfunding campaign like healthcare, education or innovation based crowdfunding require very different messaging and approaches. This gives SkolaFund the edge in producing more organic successful campaigns within the education space.
What does it take to run a successful social enterprise?
It is important to think of sustainability for the short and long term of the company. There needs to be a balance between idealism and pragmatism when running a social enterprise startup. Often times idealism gets the better of social entrepreneurs. However, it is the responsibility of social entrepreneurs to be pragmatic in terms of financing and strategizing the business and also in the growth of the company so that not only the impact is delivered to the intended beneficiaries but the company gets to grow sustainably for the employees, founders, and shareholders.
If you could offer one piece of advice to a first-time social entrepreneur, what would it be?
Understand real on-the-ground problems and build a solution that can scale. Create a path to sustainability fast either through making solid revenues and profit margins or building the right product that is investable.
To learn more about SkolaFund…
Visit them online:
Ready to develop your social enterprise idea?
NUS Enterprise has a host of events and funding opportunities to equip you on your journey.
The Lotus-NUS Fund provides seed funding of $25,000 for start-ups powered by a social mission. We’re looking for social impact driven start-ups that (i) Are looking to grow beyond the ideation or technology prototyping stage
(ii) Have a positive social and/or environmental impact in Singapore or overseas. Submit an Executive Summary to us at https://nus.edu/2wDQ3Rq
Other programmes that we run include the the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia , and the NUS Start-up Runway, which supports start-ups at any point of your entrepreneurial journey. More information on the Social Venture Lab @ NUS is available at our website.