Giving Week 2016 may be over, but the spirit and effort of “giving back” continue to live on with some companies, whose core values revolve around being kind, inclusive, and thoughtful. We speak to three companies that played their part in Giving Week — Flour Power, a bakery that employs people with special needs, Halal Food Hunt, an online guide for Muslims to find halal food, and [email protected], an inclusive children’s amusement centre — about what it means to give, and how they give every day.
Nookmag: Introduce yourself and why you decided to be a social enterprise.
Lena Ng, Flour Head at Flour Power: I was in corporate marketing for more than 12 years, and took a sabbatical in 2011 to stay in the villages in Cambodia and Thailand, where I volunteered to teach English. When I got back, I decided to help Singaporeans as well, so I spent two years looking for the gaps in the social fabric, and realised that kids with special needs didn’t have many options after they graduated.
You equip people with special needs with baking and customer service skills. What is the best, as well as most challenging, part about this?
The best part must be seeing our boys achieving small milestones. Everyone looks for big results and miss out the small things but we believe that the small victories should be celebrated! The most challenging thing must surely be balancing our social mission with running a business.
What does it mean to “give”?
I have been blessed with so much, that I can be a blessing to others. A lot of people, including myself, think you must be wealthy to be able to give. But I’ve come to the realisation that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone has much to give, be it time or money, and someone out there will be blessed by it.
Share with us one stereotype you’d like to break about social enterprises or people with special needs.
There is a perception that social enterprises have products that are inferior to commercial businesses. Actually, in so many ways we are comparable — if not better — than other businesses; because whilst we compete in the same spheres of business, we also achieve a social objective at the same time!
HALAL FOOD HUNT
Nookmag: Introduce yourself and why you decided to join Giving Week.
Nur Safiah Alias, Marketing & Communications Manager: ’Halal’ means ‘permissible’ in Arabic, and Halalfoodhunt.com is a portal which lists verified halal-certified and Muslim-owned F&B businesses. We thought Giving Week was a good opportunity to give back, and encourage our merchants that no business is too small to do their part. To incentivise our merchants to participate in Giving Week, we offered complimentary video and editorial coverage of their restaurant and Giving Dish. Here’s a list of Giving Dishes.
Why did you choose Project Goodwill Aid and Literacy Initiative for Equity to send your proceeds to?
These are young beneficiaries and causes; being a new company ourselves, we empathised because we know what it feels like to not have money or resources. Our merchants resonated with their cause too.
What is the connection between Islam and doing good deeds?
As Muslims, we do our best to follow the laws laid down by Allah and the practices by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Eating halal is one of them, and doing good to the community at large is another. In the Quran, there is this phrase:
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many… enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” Source: Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98
Nookmag: What does it mean to “give”?
Giving is something simple and can be done at all levels of income, or any type of situations. To give is to be human, to make ourselves useful and valuable, and to be a part of the community that we are in. To give is to care for everyone around us.
Nookmag: Introduce yourself and why inclusiveness is important at [email protected]
Faith Chng, Founder of [email protected]: I had a vision to create a play environment where all children can come together, including those who are special needs, and providing an environment that can love and accept them for who they are. Every child is unique in their own ways, and we hope to build a fun and creative environment, and inspire parents to discover, guide and empower themselves and their children.
Nookmag: In dealing with kids with special needs, what would you say is the best as well as most challenging part?
The best part is the relationships formed between the special needs children and myself. Getting to know their family at a personal level allows me to learn about the uniqueness of each individual child, and how to communicate with them. The challenging part is to have patience and perseverance — to keep trying our best even when we do not see immediate results in the children.
Nookmag: What does it mean to “give”?
Personally, I believe in this quote: freely we have received, freely we give. The essence of giving is important, and it must come from the heart. Every charity project must have a purpose, and must be able to bring values that benefit both the donor as well as the recipient.