Left: Mohamad Raihan Bin Mohamed Yusri hopes to develop products and services that will benefit his community. He is an SNCF Scholar, and he is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Computing in Information System with a minor in management at the National University of Singapore.
Right: Raena Leang aims to raise the awareness of co-operatives in Singapore. She is an SNCF Scholar and currently pursuing a Bachelor of Business Management at the Singapore Management University.
Co-operatives aren't only about making money, they're also about caring for community.
Co-operatives are businesses owned by their members and operate for the benefit of their members. These members typically share a common social or economic interest, having an equal say in how the co-operatives are run as well as a share in the profits.
And most co-operatives have social missions to benefit the greater society in which they operate in.
Spearheading the local Co-operative Movement is the Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF). We met up with two SNCF Scholars, Mohamad Raihan Bin Mohamed Yusri and Raena Leang, and got their thoughts on how they are looking to champion the Co-operative Movement and create a positive impact on society.
A Technical Approach
Technology is a major game-changer in all walks of life, and co-operatives are no different. The scholars are eager to put a technical spin in their organisations and drive change. Raihan is a big believer in this notion and feels with the skills he is acquiring in university and the opportunities offered by SNCF upon graduation, he is primed is to create a significant impact just like his heroes.
“I am inspired by technology leaders in the world. I read about mavericks such as Elon Musk, who are able to develop technologies that influence positive changes in the world. I also aspire to do the same,” he remarked. “One of my goals is to develop products and services that help my community.”
Currently, the 21-year-old is a year-one student at the National University of Singapore pursuing a Bachelor of Computing in Information System, with a minor in management.
“My course will equip me with the technical skills and business acumen for my career in the co-operative sector. I learn about modules such as enterprise architecture and the management of IT. I will also get to understand the goals and underlying principles behind the different types of businesses, including co-operatives,” he explained.
His drive to create a positive change was palpable throughout his chat with us and was probably one of the key factors that prompted SNCF to offer him a scholarship.
“The opportunities that SNCF can provide drew me to their scholarship. For one, we need to undergo three compulsory internships, which allow scholars to develop holistically. Through the internships, we can pick up skills and experience relevant to this sector,” he explained.
After he graduates from university, Raihan will be expected to ply his trade at SNCF or a co-operative, and that is something that he is looking forward to. Ultimately, he wants to promote the movement and bring it to greater heights.
“I understand the theory behind co-operatives, and I want to see how they actually work in reality. I also want to develop my skills and gain more experience to contribute to the Co-operative Movement.”
He advised students who have the passion to serve the community to join him in the movement.
He asserted: “SNCF is a great platform for people to make positive social changes. If your values are aligned with SNCF, you should seize the opportunity and join the organisation.”
Aligned and Inspired
Life experiences can change perspectives, as was evidently so in Raena's case. She remembered being a prideful little girl when she was in primary school and community service had never crossed her mind. She admitted to being a little sceptical of the true intentions of volunteers and in order to discover them for herself, she joined a social service CCA (co-curricular activity) when she was in secondary school.
“The involvement with the beneficiaries and my peers changed me completely,” remarked the 19-year-old. Indeed, the experience completely altered her life values and as she got older, gave her a career direction to dedicate herself to.
Doing good and creating a positive impact on society have been the cornerstones of her personal ethos. That, and Raena's inclination for business drew her to SNCF.
“I wanted to join SNCF as an intern before I started university because I wanted to know how co-operatives work. I only got to know about it from newspapers and BrightSparks magazine. During the interview session, Mr Sim from SNCF shared with me a lot of information on what co-operatives are all about.”
It was then when she realised that co-operatives can be profitable, sustainable and yet contribute to society. SNCF certainly checked all the boxes for Raena, and in Raena, SNCF had found a passionate, dedicated individual with a lot to give. So, it was no surprise that she was awarded the scholarship.
“SNCF is able to help me bridge my interests and values. I can use what I learn in business to help the community for the better,” she told us.
Raena is following her interests by pursuing Business Management at Singapore Management University. She hopes to apply what she will be learning such as operations, sales and marketing as well as business development to the Co-operative Movement.
“I think that many people in Singapore are not aware of the movement. They don't view it as a viable alternative to the capitalist business model. I hope to raise the profile of the Co-operative Movement, and show people that it is a successful business model,” she explained.
If you're somebody who wants to create a positive impact on society in a profitable and sustainable manner, Raena recommends joining her at SNCF as a scholar.
“SNCF provides opportunities for scholars through programmes such as internships and networking events. They also equip scholars with the knowledge and skills to create an impact for society in the future,” she said.
And if you need yet another reason to join the organisation, Raena has one more for you – the people: “SNCF is comprised kind-hearted people. You'll be with like-minded peers, exchange ideas on how to help the community and push one another to improve.”