Singapore launches startup scheme on elderly care, mental health

Training and grants for aspiring social entrepreneurs.

A new programme in Singapore is helping citizens create new startups to build solutions for elderly care and patients of mental illnesses. The LeapforGood programme, launched last week, is by the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE), jointly organised with National Council of Social Service and DesignSingapore Council (Dsg). Participants will go through a series of workshops to help them develop their ideas into a business model, culminating with a SGD100,000 grant for each proposal that makes it to the final round. The first workshop will be on 11 June to teach entrepreneurs about the challenges facing mental health patients and the elderly. There will be consultation clinics for participants to get feedback on their proposal, prototype and pitch. There will also be a design masterclass for them to learn about product, service and digital experience design. “raiSE will work closely with selected participants to pilot their social enterprise ventures so that they can continue scaling up their solutions in a sustainable way,” said Alfie Othman, the Executive Director of raiSE. The themes for the scheme are based on the results of an ethnographic study of elderly persons and individuals with mental health, commissioned by raiSE. Mental diseases still hold a stigma, the study found, and this is delaying detection and search for help, often by years. People have trouble sharing their challenges with their family and employers, adding to the stress of managing the disease. Elderly often live in socially and emotionally isolated environments, putting them at risk of low detection of physical and mental illnesses, the study found. “By putting the users - the elderly and people with mental health issues - at the heart of the design process, it will enable us to generate better solutions and create new possibilities to enhance their lives in a tangible way,” Jeffrey Ho, Executive Director of Dsg said.