Co-operatives are all around us, and they play a significant role in uplifting society and in turn our economy. From providing loans with affordable repayment rates to aiding the special needs community, co-operatives cover a whole range of societal needs. In fact, many would have benefited from efforts to combat profiteering and moderate the cost of living from Singapore’s most renowned co-operative, NTUC FairPrice.
The Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF) has made it its mission to develop co-operatives and help them thrive. Towards this end, SNCF nurtures the growth of enterprises that address social and economic needs, thereby fostering a more resilient society.
Two SNCF scholars and undergraduates, Donovan Ee and Corrine Chong, share with us more about SNCF’s contributions to society and their own aspirations to be part of the movement.
Tell us about the significance of co-operatives in Singapore.
Corrine Chong: Though Singapore has a strong economic performance, inequality still exists in the form of income gaps. I feel that this issue can be addressed through co-operatives which provide opportunities for social mobility such as financial assistance and education. For example, one of the ways that NTUC FairPrice gives back to the society is through rebates and discounts, ensuring affordable essential items such as rice, oil to fresh produce.
Donovan Ee: Co-operatives have a significant presence in Singapore. They address Singapore’s societal needs and create positive change in the economic landscape, benefitting society as a whole. Their existence creates opportunities for social good which no other conventional business model can emulate.
Corrine Chong Kai Lin
SNCF Local Undergraduate Scholar
Bachelor of Accountancy and Business, Nanyang Technological University
What attracted you to a scholarship with SNCF?
Corrine: SNCF’s ‘Scholars with a Heart’ slogan really caught my attention. I wanted to give back to the society, so my mind was set when I discovered that this scholarship would be an avenue for me to do so. When I understood that I would be helping co-operatives and in turn supporting social causes through running sustainable businesses, I knew that this scholarship was worth trying for!
Donovan: Before I began my undergraduate studies, I participated in community projects which imbued in me a sense of duty towards society. My exposure to these projects made me realise that I need to extend my reach to others and instil in people a sense of acceptance. This will result in a cohesive environment that embraces social needs. I knew that the SNCF Scholarship will offer me the chance to amplify the well-being of everyone and enhance our society by employing the quadripartite strategy of shaping, improving, enriching, and strengthening.
Donovan Ee Xuan Han
SNCF Local Undergraduate Scholar
Bachelor of Business Administration, National University of Singapore
Tell us about the opportunities SNCF Scholars can expect.
Corrine: SNCF provides scholars with opportunities to know the co-operatives better by inviting us to various networking events. Although it has only been a few months since I was awarded the scholarship, I already had multiple opportunities to interact with affiliates and better understand each sector.
I would also have an internship with SNCF and a campus co-operative during my first summer break, followed by another internship with one of the co-operatives in year 3 of my studies. This gives me an opportunity to not only get a glimpse of how co-operatives function, but also to gain valuable working skills. Apart from internships, I will also participate in the Annual Co-operative Leaders’ Conference (ACLC) held overseas next year, where I can gain further insights into local and global co-operatives.
Donovan: SNCF supports our growth by providing us with opportunities to go for an internship at over 60 affiliates. It also encourages scholars to broaden their horizons by participating in university programmes such as student exchanges. Such encouragement means a lot to us scholars as it demonstrates SNCF’s perennial support for our growth which would later amplify our contributions to the co-operative movement.
What qualities should all SNCF scholars possess?
Corrine: The slogan “Scholars with a Heart” comes to mind. I think the unique trait that all SNCF scholars should possess is the passion to serve and help our community. SNCF scholars should have the heart to continuously strive to reach out to the less privileged, providing long term solutions to alleviate their conditions.
Donovan: I believe that all scholars should develop a sense of empathy towards others. They also must have strong ethical impetus – the desire to satisfy the social and economic needs of society. It helps to be innovative as well, so that you can look at a particular social problem and find new ways to solve it. All in all, you must have a caring heart and an enterprising mind.