Feature Stories

27.05.2015

Course that Nurtures Social Minds

A team of HKUST students who have completed the Social Entrepreneurship and Venture Philanthropy Course (SEVP) and won $250,000 for its partnered social enterprise took centre stage at a ceremony held by the Yeh Family Philanthropy Ltd (YFP). 

YFP launched an official ceremony on 12 May to announce its innovative program “Nurturing Social Minds” designed to provide a hands-on action learning experience in venture philanthropy, impact investments and social entrepreneurship after its partnership with the HKUST Business School to pilot the SEVP course for two years.

The HKUST Business School pioneered the SEVP course in 2013 with the support of the YFP, in which students will form teams, and on behalf of their social enterprises bid for a grant to bring economic, social and/or environmental benefit to the society.  The funding provides students with an opportunity to help social enterprises tackle real-life business challenges, and to participate in social investment decision making.

Of the 28 students in the class this year, the team formed by two MBA students – Amita Gupta and Sunny Um, and five undergraduates – Rachel Cheng, Tong Lai-wa, Luke Tam, Liu Xinlu and Quentin Tsui, impressed the judges at the pitch competition with their innovative and practical business proposal for a start-up called Twopresents. The social venture Twopresents is an online party invitation and fundraising platform that allows children to turn their parties into an opportunity to donate to their chosen charity. 

Twopresents is delighted to participate in the course and work closely with a highly motivated and diverse team at HKUST, with members from India, Korea, the mainland and Hong Kong. The company plans to use the funding to create market awareness and translate their website into Chinese to promote its service locally.

The winning student team was also on hand at the ceremony to share their lessons from participating in the course. “The SEVP class was an eye-opening learning experience,” said Sunny Um, an MBA student. “It provides an excellent chance to gain first-hand exposure to social entrepreneurship and learn about the diverse spectrum of venture philanthropy. This experience will remain as a guiding light in my future career.”

Another team member Luke Tam, a final year student who has been a volunteer helping students in the Sham Shui Po District, said the course provided an excellent opportunity for him to learn about how to deliver an impactful and sustainable service to local communities.

Addressing the students assembled at the ceremony, the Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Mrs Carrie Lam, remarked, “I can see your passion and enthusiasm to bring about good impact for society. I am sure the programme has equipped you with the knowledge, insight and hands-on experience to help you create new social businesses, inspire and change existing businesses, and help charities and NGOs build more self-sustaining and adaptable services that continue to meet the changing needs of Hong Kong’s complex society in the years ahead.”

YFP also announced that it has become an Intermediary of the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund (SIE Fund) set up by the Hong Kong Government and pledged to support a total of nine courses at local tertiary education institutions in three years to nurture more “social minds” in Hong Kong.

Mrs Yvette Yeh, Chair of YFP, said, “I am excited because the Hong Kong Government has taken the lead by starting an initiative that fosters collaboration and creates a platform for cross-sector learning. I am excited because I have seen the curiosity and enthusiasm of our students and their eagerness to use their creativity and their knowledge to address social issues. But I am most excited because I have met our passionate and dedicated social entrepreneurs. Through their vision and actions, they have lit a fire under our students, opened their hearts and minds and moved them from observers to doers.”