Co-operatives are business entities which are established by members who share a common social or economic interest. Co-operatives pursue economic viability; operate on the values of self-help, mutual help, equality, care for community, and cooperation; and have social missions that benefit their members or society at large. For instance, the co-operatives under NTUC are driven by a social mission to help residents in Singapore through moderating the cost of living.
SNCF Co-operative Scholarship
Bachelor of Business
– National University of Singapore
The Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF), as the apex body, promotes and develops Singapore’s co-operative movement. SNCF strives to attract, develop, and nurture young, talented, and aspiring individuals to make a difference to society. It is hardly surprising that SNCF scholars are strongly passionate about the greater good and giving back to society. To find out what fuels their passion, we spoke to two undergraduates—20-year-old Tanya Ee and 19-year-old Tammy Lim—who are currently under the SNCF Co-operative Scholarship programme.
Grounded In Co-operation
What attracted these two young ladies to the co-operative movement? For Tanya, it was a YouTube video on volunteers in the U.S. packing locally grown fruits and vegetables for families to buy that sparked her interest in co-operatives. “Firstly, I admired how the concept of a co-operative could strengthen family farms in the Texas community, enabling them to earn a fair living while making organic foods affordable for all. Secondly, I was instantly intrigued and interested to find out more about how co-operatives work and are sustainable,” she recounts.
What she learnt, she came to love. With a greater appreciation for how co-operatives can impact the community, she applied for the SNCF Co-operative Scholarship hoping to use her passion, skills, and time to help advance and improve the co-operative and social entrepreneurship movements in Singapore.
Tammy was similarly inspired. Co-operatives have shown that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social mission. As she shares with us, “Its business model of both doing well and doing good really resonates with me, which made the scholarship the perfect platform for me to understand and learn what it means to be a co-operator and contribute to this movement.”
A Network Of Collaboration
Tammy and Tanya aren’t alone in their aspirations. The network of SNCF scholars is a diverse one, yet all the scholars are driven by the same goal – to create a positive impact to the society. This network does not just offer opportunities in which ideas for achieving a better tomorrow can be bounced, it also provides a support system, with seniors sharing advice based on their own scholarship journeys. “Besides giving me academic tips and advice on how to smoothen my transition into university life, they keep me informed on co-operative related talks that are being held on campus. Having this supportive network of scholars from the beginning has been great as it reassures me that help would be available if I need it,” Tanya says.
SNCF Co-operative Scholarship
Bachelor of Computer Science and Economics
– Nanyang Technological University
The SNCF scholarship also offers many exciting opportunities for scholars to develop. One such opportunity comes in the form of internships with the various co-operatives affiliated to SNCF. “This will allow us to gain deeper insights on the workings of the different co-operatives in Singapore and personally experience the co-operative environment. We will benefit tremendously from our interactions with mentors and other people who are part of this movement,” Tammy shares of some of the advantages of these internships.
Contributing To The Co-operative Movement
SNCF plays a crucial role in supporting the co-operative movement in Singapore by creating greater public awareness, particularly in the youth, and developing affiliates as sustainable enterprises that address social needs. This helps enable the co-operatives to better serve societal needs such as providing loans with affordable repayment, making insurance more accessible to everyone, and aiding those with special needs.
On their part, Tammy and Tanya hope to contribute to the movement once they have graduated. Tammy, who majors in Computer Science and Economics, has set her sights on helping co-operatives to integrate technology into their business model. “With the fourth industrial revolution unfolding at such a rapid pace, it is imperative for businesses and co-operatives alike to embrace the adoption of more advanced technology to fully reap the benefits of these changes,” she affirms.
For Tanya, she has been inspired to use her creativity to come up with unique ways to improve the perception and understanding of co-operatives. As a business student, she also wants to help to innovate the processes in the co-operative movement, and to help make a positive impact on co-operative members, the environment, and society.
Besides having a passion for bettering the lives of others, aspiring SNCF scholars should have a drive for learning so they can really make a difference. As Tanya aptly puts it, “I believe that determination and resilience to improve oneself is important. SNCF nurtures and helps its affiliates to grow to the best of their abilities. Still, the most important thing is that we give back to society. By showing our care and concern for the community around us, we add purpose to our lives.”