Youth Entrepreneurship: Here's What 3 Reactor Alumni Founders Are Doing
Updated: Aug 4
This is the second piece in our Reactor Changemakers series, which discusses the multi-faceted, impact-driven role entrepreneurs play in our societies and communities.
Many countries hunkered down to combat the symptoms of a global crisis, from dealing with a declining economy, the widespread loss of jobs, an overwhelmed healthcare system as well as the potential resurgence of a second wave of infections, alongside many other crippling C-19 woes. As a zillennial, this catastrophic event serves as a blatant reminder of the things we take for granted, as we experience many once-in-a-lifetime waypoints along the way. With the economy in a technical recession, one can’t help but get nail-biting anxieties about the future of work and what the future holds for youth.
Experts claim the future of work, especially for the incoming Gen Z generation, is one defined by a dynamic remote work and a thriving gig economy. Zillennials, like myself, welcome the flexibility of working from home as well as the practicality of saving time on commuting and increased productivity. With WFH being a mandated norm for all companies, it poses the question of whether this protracted working arrangement can continue to be part of the reformed, post-pandemic work culture.
Youth Unemployment Rate Credit: International Labour Organisation
Citing the Global Employment Trends for Youth 2020 (GET Youth 2020), the youth unemployment rate in Asia Pacific since 2012 has risen and is estimated to be 14.1% in 2020, relatively higher compared to the global rate of 13.7%.
The youth unemployment rate continues to increase significantly from 2018 to 2020, inevitably exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic-linked recession. In spite of these unfavourable statistics, call me naive but I do believe that we can emerge stronger with an economy backed by startups and SMEs — especially so when youth entrepreneurship is on the rise. With the introduction of government initiatives such as the SG Startup Founder Grant and Young ChangeMakers (YCM), youth are empowered more than ever — to bring their project ideas to fruition.
Unlike the sitting duck I am, here are some youth entrepreneurs who are making waves in their own ways. These entrepreneurs are graduates of the Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Global Entrepreneurial Internship, who developed their ideas under the guidance of the Reactor School training team.
CaffeeBox — Specialty Coffee Beans In A Box Founded in 2020 by a young coffee-lover (winner of the Global Entrepreneurial Internship Startup Challenge), this specialty subscription-based coffee service was created as an extension of founder Cheryl's part-time job making coffee. As a young startup founded during the circuit breaker period in early April, CaffeeBox is a noteworthy local brand, having collaborated with name brands such as Foreword Coffee Roasters, Compound Coffee Roasters, and Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee. For the uninitiated, these are your hipster, specialty coffee establishments you find in your neighbourhoods. During the circuit breaker when cafe-hopping and dining-in options were prohibited, coffee delivery was the next viable option in recreating that coffee experience.
Screenshot of CaffeeBox’s webpage Credit: Author
Invested in her vision of building a nurturing and open community for coffee-lovers, by coffee-lovers, Cheryl led the team to kickstart a Telegram group SG Coffee Community (with more than 500 members), connecting coffee roasters with coffee connoisseurs. Through the sharing of coffee art and brewing tips — it brought together a group of strangers through their collective love of a cup of joe.
Watch CaffeeBox's GEIP Demo Day Pitch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb-bcsK6DjE
runwayG — The New Face Of Youth Consumerism
As a guilty bystander of hyper-consumerism i.e. buying excessive clothes for compulsory Chinese New Year visiting, I find it refreshing that there’s a growing niche market for selling pre-owned clothes. As a social enterprise that champions the practice of owning second-hand apparel, runwayG’s vision ‘to give every piece of clothing a second chance to be loved!’ sounds cheesy but, in fact, does signal an encouraging growth of environmentally-sustainable practices among youth. The selling/buying of pre-owned items is nothing new but the heightened numbers on online platforms such as Instagram and Carousell show that the recycling culture has finally taken form (thanks to the Greta effect, Captain Green and the 3R movement— reduce, reuse and recycle). A 2019 survey concluded that 9 in 10 youth respondents, between 18 and 24 years old, are willing to do more for the environment.
Screenshot of runwayG’s webpage Credit: Author
With a trend of bespoke, social media-based thrift shops springing up during the CB period, runwayG has leveraged on this to make their brand something relatable and familiar among its younger target market. Get a new look with their quarantine-inspired collection on their website.
Watch runwayG's GEIP Demo Day Pitch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdOOHIu4GsQ
The Fishmonger — Delivering Fish To Your Doorstep, Made Easier With Tech Unlike most startups in Singapore, The Fishmonger is a tech-enabled platform for merchants in the wet market and/or fishery ports. Founded by a father and daughter duo, The Fishmonger aims to increase convenience for both consumers and sellers through its online e-commerce platform. Lenice (founder of The Fishmonger) first discovered a glaring problem that fishmongers were looking to sell online and earn more but lacked the platform to do so.
Screenshot of The Fishmonger’s webpage Credit: Author
During her Global Entrepreneurial Internship (GEI) experience in Shanghai, China, she discovered that the model of grocery delivery adopted in China was highly efficient and robust — something lacking in her country. Hence, she wanted to replicate a similar model in Singapore, which led to the creation of her F&B startup, The Fishmonger.
Watch The Fishmonger's GEIP Demo Day Pitch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQjtOtxrg_0
Heartening as it is, the co-founders of Caffeebox, runwayG and The Fishmonger has shown textbook examples of the galaxy’s next best young founders — displaying great resilience, passion and an enterprising spirit. Exhibiting an acute sense of entrepreneurial dare, they ventured and developed impactful solutions for their individual communities.
2020 appears to be a precarious year for most people, especially for those who lost their jobs, or for young graduates who are entering the workforce. It is an uphill battle for everyone, but it need not remain that way.
Contrary to the ‘snowflake generation fallacy’, youth these days are especially hyperaware, determined and disciplined to effect change within their own communities. Our youth belongs to a generation that has seen waves of a global financial crisis, disruptive technologies, geopolitical upheavals and, now — global pandemic. As we celebrate youth day today, let us remain hopeful and support our youth as they continue to chart out their own pathways.
Happy Youth Day to all our youth friends. Reactor School cultivates the galaxy’s best young founders, through our entrepreneurship workshops and bootcamps. Inspire your students to be the next changemaker in their community, one startup at a time.
Interested to run an Entrepreneurship Programme for your School? Contact us now.
Written by Sherman Tham
Sherman is the Marketing Ensign at Reactor School, and a Reactor Student Alumni.
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