The inspiration to start a social venture fund came to Mr Edward Yee while he was backpacking in 2016.
His meetings with social entrepreneurs in Bangladesh and other countries led him to found Givfunds, which provides low-cost loans to social enterprises in South Asia and Singapore.
The 26-year-old was included in this year's Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list for his efforts to give overlooked social enterprises a boost.
Mr Yee, who is pursuing a master's in business administration at the University of Oxford, told The Straits Times that seeing social enterprises the fund has helped develop and scale has been one of his best takeaways from Givfunds, and that the work that some of these companies are doing inspires him every single day.
Since the company's launch in 2017, Givfunds has invested in 48 social enterprises and was the first investor of more than 80 per cent of them. It has worked with community-focused organisations, including the United Nations Development Programme and Indian government think-tank NITI Aayog.
Mr Yee, who was diagnosed with dyslexia in Primary 5, was awarded a Rhodes scholarship in 2019. He went on to pursue a master's degree in evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation at Oxford, before starting his MBA last year.
"The vision for GivFunds is always to help neglected social enterprises. I believe that some of the most innovative and impactful firms may not be in the biggest cities...and may be overlooked by investors," he said.
GivFunds will next look at revenue-based fund-raising for the social enterprises it works with, Mr Yee said, adding that this could pave the way to attract more commercial capital.
Source: The Straits Times, 20 April 2021