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Syinc Blog

Here we muse about creativity & innovation, and document (some of) the work we're doing about it in Singapore.

think&drink7: The day we tackled some of the shittiest issues on Earth


Or a night at the friendly Pigeonhole with WTO founder, Mr. Jack Sim.

That’s right. WTO.

The World Toilet Organisation.

Jack told us about his childhood, about talking too much in class and getting caned on stage. He thanks his education experience for not making him too comfortable – having no other opportunity after leaving school, he went into business.

So, “good things come from bad things too”. He went on to start 16 companies over his adult life. One of them was the Restroom Association of Singapore and the WTO, organisations doing us all very very big and dirty services by campaigning for cleaner public toilets - and soon placed him on the international social entrepreneurship map.

By self-admission, he wants “everything” in life. In a poignant moment, he mused: there's no need to live life as a scoreboard (contrary to what our system teaches all good Singaporeans). He also saw no point in “buying chocolate coloured Louis Vuitton bags to one-up each other”? He’d rather do something that he likes with other … chocolate coloured stuff.

That white shirt he’s wearing in the photos? He bought it because it reminded him of toilet tiles.

Jack Sim "the shirt"

And why would he not? He shared a golden insight relevant to so many people in Corporate Singapore: why trade dollars for minutes – especially after you’re already satisfied. Why be a prostitute selling your body for money to your boss or company?

Jack talks about enjoying every moment in his life – including on the toilet. And whether his business, his wife (he thanks her for “forgiving him for what he is”, to his upcoming Toilet film and toilet museum under the WTO, he clearly likes what he is doing. And he advises us to do the same.

After all, in his words, “if you can't shit, life has no meaning.”

Getting in the shoes


29 Dec 2011

... of our users, that is.

We continued on our journey to find ways to improve the quality of life of migrant workers in Singapore. A quick recap from previous episodes: we did interviews. And created a "User Journey Map".

How we did it: Extracting insights from the interviews. Putting both observations and the insights into a chart that visually shows the user's experience chronologically (and then refining it some more). 

This served as a great foundation of inspiration (the first, and often the most important, phase of design thinking), and preps us for the next stage - ideation. Typically in conventional innovation, this is the point where you do brainstorming/solutioning (if not much earlier). But, we figured - why design for them, when you can design with them? 

And that’s how we ended up sitting in front of our whiteboard with a group of Foreign Domestic Workers, employers of FDWs, people familiar with the Ministry of Manpower and some more people from HOME (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics). All armed with yellow, orange, blue and pink post-its of course. And a carpet. We love the carpet.

As you can see below, we ended up with … something that looks like the upcoming MRT Downtown Line.

What was amazingly useful about it: enabling us to identify points of tension from various perspectives to create opportunity areas for further exploration. 

What were some (other) things we learnt? 

The process of design thinking is meant to be iterative, not linear. Through our conversation, we found certain knowledge gaps and interesting areas of exploration not identified during our interviews, and we never hesitated to pause the ideation session and turn it into an insight-gathering one. 

Facilitation is useful, but good facilitation is invaluable. We didn't just listen to what people said, but also what they didn't say, and what their body language showed. This got us asking relevant questions to gain even deeper insights to certain points of tension. 

Also, designing with our users doesn't mean they know what design thinking is about. But users don't have to be design thinkers - the steps of DT are intuitive enough to understand without the jargon. Instead, we focused on using good facilitation (which reinforces the above point) to bring the process through with clear communication and action. 

More to come. Watch this space.

Previous post here


drawing inputs from our different stakeholder perspectives

constructing our user journey map - collaboratively. 


PS. Our next Think&Drink features none other than Singapore's Toilet Man, Jack Sim! 

... of our users, that is.

A quick recap from previous episodes: we did interviews.

So we were thinking – why design for our users when we can design with them?

That’s how we – and we mean SYINC – ended up sitting in front of our whiteboard with a group of Foreign Domestic Workers, employers of FDWs, people familiar with the Ministry of Manpower and some more people from HOME (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics).

All armed with yellow, orange, blue and pink post-its of course. And a carpet. We love the carpet.

As you can see below, we ended up with … something that looks like the upcoming Downtown Line.

But Design Thinking is not meant to be linear, it is meant to be branchy, complex and maybe with a few thorns. Like a Christmas tree. So thus all the feeder bus services branching out from the main line from the main line.

Not that the users all knew what Design Thinking was about of course but you do not need to know what Design Thinking is to give ideas. Certainly not all of them -  given the different groups they were from - were of the same viewpoint. All the better – more clutter and post its on our wall!

We wanted to slap ourselves for not thinking of this earlier. Because here in SYINC, we realized that many cooks make rich broth. So Happy 2012 everyone! And we hope that those Christmas Trees of ideas are growing too.



Davide Bonomi showing us a picture from the Shawshank Redemption17 Dec 2011

Syinc held our last think&drink for 2011 at The Pigeonhole - and it was a night of some introspection and lots of conversation.  

We opened with Davide Bonomi from Dufresne Research sharing his experiences organising the EV Li-ion Battery Forum and the Energy Storage Forum. Davide talked about the need for greater collaboration to spur innovation - hence, Dufresne specialises in creating networks and stimulating co-creation through their events. What was particularly interesting? Well, Dufresne's events are often highly technical - with each event having a certain niche that attracts select users. By doing this, Davide is able to move the industry discussion deeper on those specific niche areas. And did you know that Andy Dufresne from the Shawshank Redemption was the source of Davide’s inspiration for this company? Because of his fierce optimism in the bleakest of moments, because of his moral fibre, and of course, his eventual triumph. Perhaps a spirit that will resonate with many, many change makers.

Then, we tried something new to think&drink. We had 2 special guests make pitches on projects they were working on.

(This is an idea we're testing out: that people not only want to see those who've done impressive stuff, but also get a whiff of stuff that's still brewing and in the works.)  

Vincent Perrier-Trudov 

First off, we had Vincent Perrier-Trudov from Citizens for Social Business and he shared with us that social businesses are sustainable businesses dedicated to tackling poverty or an alleviation of an issue related to poverty. Vincent's goal is to promote the concept of a social business worldwide. And it seems the triple bottom line is fast becoming the new black and if you aren't on that train... well, it's never too late. Check them out if you want to learn more!

Right after that, we had Tan Hang Chong, an active environmentalist in Singapore, come up to spread the message regarding a petition for Bukit Brown to be conserved. He gave an impassioned speech about the history behind the site and preserving the local flora and fauna - even throwing out the wild idea for it to be sited as a tourist attraction. We're curious to find out what happens with the petition! 

And in typical think&drink style, lots of conversation continued after. And hey, don't fret if you missed this one; stay tuned in the new year coz we have lots lined up! Till then, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Design Thinking great -- Design Doing even better

Bernise Ang

6 Dec 2011

On the consulting front, we're currently working on a project for migrant workers in Singapore. Our client is a nonprofit that works to advance the welfare of migrant workers here. Our challenge: to uncover a business opportunity for a product (or service) that improves the quality of life for migrant workers.

We haven't synthesised everything yet, as it's still early in the project, but here's a fun snippet we captured: creating the user journey map. Really good for putting us in the shoes of our user/beneficiary.

(you'll have to forgive the bad handwriting - too much technology, we don't write-write enough!)

We know this is a brief one - we'll be sharing more shortly!

PS. did you know the next think&drink is happening this Wed? ;)


Bernise Ang

Iteration is powerful.

The simple act of doing, learning, and baking learnings into a new product/service works wonders. Especially when you keep doing it, and people keep thinking it's getting better!

That's why we ran yet another DT 101 session last Friday, and it was for SMU's Lien Centre for Social Innovation as part of their Social Conversations series. It was our second collaboration with LCSI (the first was as part of something called iLeap, details here).

Things were a little different to most of our workshops: not only was this the largest group we facilitated (45!), but the majority of our audience were senior non-profit folks – who we assumed prefer comprehensively detailed theory presentations, be mildly cynical of an "innovation method", and distrust trainers who look young enough to be their kids. Boy did we bust that assumption!

The workshop turned out to be extremely interactive and "experiential"; people seemed to like that we kept "lecturing" to a minimum. But we knew that senior executives wouldn't be satisfied without at least some theory, so whilst we kept them pretty busy with talking and prototyping, we added a bunch of slides during our debrief. We felt that theory sinks in better (and deeper) if participants have the emotional experience of having gone through the exercise. 

In principle, that was right.

Reflecting: How might we improve?

  • We forgot to account for the awkwardness of presenting slides to people who had just huddled around a table for debrief – most of whom were still standing!  (Read: Being more directive as to little moments in between, and during, segments so they can focus fully on the experience itself.)
  • Rather than just uploading DT theory/process to participants, we're gonna work harder to tease it out of the participants through their own insights and observations. (Read: Show, not tell.) (And yes, we're gonna have to beef our facilitation skills big-time - an exciting challenge.

Enough talk. Pictures!

Nothing quite personifies "show, don't tell" like role-playing does

We did encourage participants to be visual in sharing their ideas ;)

In the thick of it: Sasa Vucinic, founder of MDLF and TED speaker, who came along

Prototype galoreShow & Tell: Usha Menon of Management Centre Asia (or =mc Asia) showing how her prototype works

(full set on FB here)

Aug 13 Double Bill: RYSEC Workshop 2 + think&drink5



THE STATS: 40 young social entrepreneurs. 13 speakers+panelists. 8 workshop segments. 1 speed-dating lunch.

40 young aspiring social entrepreneurs came for our full-day workshop held at the Lexmark Headquarters @ Novena Square. On the menu: Root Cause Analysis, Strategy Planning, Business Model design, and other tools for business fundamentals. But all tools and no stories is boring-as, so we threw in not one, but two panels featuring awesome folks like Meng Weng Wong (serial entrepreneur, angel investor and breakout star of the day), Rob Kraybill from Impact Investment Exchange Asia, and other great peeps. The panels: "What makes a great entrepreneur?"; and "Moolah: Where can I get it?". 

Check out some snaps below, courtesy of none other than Meng Wong (also a guerilla photographer) unless otherwise stated. Also, more pics on our Facebook page (go like us!). 


Panelists Zhixun from SPRING (wearing striped tie) and Anna from MCYS

Allan Lim of Alpha Biofuels shares his insights on being a SEpreneur. He will wear any teeshirts you give him, so FREE MARKETING. Also a RYSEC 2011 mentor (and wears a few other hats too ;o)Robert Kraybill, MD of IIX and RYSEC 2011 mentor. So that means if you apply to RYSEC, you'll be connected to awesome mentors like him.Behind the scenes: The team hard at work making RYSEC 2011 awesome. (left-to-right Zelig Lee, Haresh Tilani, and Francis Chua of Lexmark)

AFTER SUNDOWN: think&drink5

After lots of brainstorming (and brainstuffing) over the day, it was time to let our hair down. We headed down to Group Therapy coffee @ Duxton Road for think&drink5 which we aptly themed around SE as well - Social Entrepreneurship: Realities of transitioning from theory to practice.

Our eclectic panel: Tong Yee (School of Thought), Olivia Choong (Green Drinks Singapore), Meng Wong (silicon valley rockstar + awesome person). 

"It's good to share with your peers your ideas prior to setting up your enterprise. Competing ideas is good.." (RYSEC + think&drink5 panelist Meng Wong). Photo by Shaun KohLEFT: "Entrepreneurship in Singapore is still very top-down. The bottom-up mechanisms need more work here." (think&drink5 panelist Tong Yee, Co-Founder of School of Thought) RIGHT: "I founded Green Drinks because I felt very strongly for the environment," (think&drink5 panelist Olivia Choong, Founder of Green Drinks Singapore)Spirited conversation: This is what Think & Drink is all about.And these great conversations and ideas don't stop here. If you missed the workshop, and Think & Drink (we forgive you), you can still get in on the action: 

Registration for RYSEC 2011 is OPEN till 27 Aug 2011 - find out more at  

Double Bill: RYSEC workshop + think&drink5

Bernise Ang

RYSEC workshop 2

We've got a great double bill coming right up on Aug 13: a workshop and think&drink5 for mingling afterwards.

For those not yet in the know, RYSEC is the Rotary Youth Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, a social business plan competition. It's a collaboration with Rotary in Singapore which we supported them in the creation of in 2009, continue to be involved in its evolution, and huzzah it's now the 3rd year running.

We had a first workshop on Aug 6 covering the basics of SE for those curious about the idea of social enterprises. This Sat Aug 13 will be our second workshop (there are only 2!) for those who are preparing to launch their ventures (or who may have just done so), covering slightly more technical topics like strategy mapping, business model generation, etc. 

Here's a sneak peak of the good stuff we've lined up for you:

What Makes A Good Entrepreneur? Why do some fail, and others succeed?           MOOLAH: Where can I get it?                                                                      SEpreneur Clinic - Sharpen Your Idea                                                            

(and a heckuva lot more, but that'll be giving it away)

 Our rockstar presenters and panellists include the likes of:

  • Meng Wong, serial entrepreneur
  • Tong Yee, co-founder of School of Thought (and the Thought Collective)
  • Gwendolyn Tan, co-founder of SGEntrepreneurs and Partner at Thymos Capital
  • Stefan Jacob & Pin Kwok, co-creators of BoP Hub
  • Bernard Leong, co-founder of Chalkboard
  • Allan Lim, founder of Alpha Biofuels
  • Harveen Narulla, co-founder of GreenPost

(and more, of course.)

think&drink5 (special surprise version!)

And because the workshop will lead in straight to think&drink5, we HAVE to make a special mention because - this one will have a similar theme! Social Entrepreneurship: The Hype, The Highs, and What You Don't See.

Featuring Olivia Choong, Meng Wong, Tong Yee. Moderated by lovely new entrant to Singapore's shores, Lara Dudley.

The low-down:

Group Therapy @ 49 Duxton Rd (it's on Level 2)

7pm - 8:30pm (or.. whenever, really)

Featuring - The Above


(And because we like you, here're some snippets from Aug 6, right below.)

Social Entrepreneurship Workshop at White Canvas Gallery

Bernise Ang

such a range of emotion in one image!

Heard of the Rotary Youth Social Entrepreneurship Challenge (RYSEC) 2011 yet? Started in 2009, it’s Singapore's only dedicated Social Business Plan Competition. It provides a unique combination of catalysing social entrepreneurship and experienced mentorship support to participants, which include previous winners, Milaap, among others.

Since helping create RYSEC back then, the competition is back again. This time, Syinc is designing 2 capacity building workshops for potential RYSEC participants, to equip them with fundamental skills to getting things started! (well that's the idea anyway ;)) 

Picture this: Spending the day in a live art gallery, learning about Social Enterprise and how to get started with building one. Nice? Well that’s what 20 young people got to do at our first workshop at the White Canvas Gallery in Tiong Bahru – targeting folks relatively new to the concept of Social Enterprise.



Saturday, 6th August

White Canvas Gallery @ Tiong Bahru

11:30am - 6pm

We structured the day along the (presumably) logical series of questions that budding social entrepreneurs might ask themselves at the start of their journey with the following sessions (and guest speakers!):

Opening with James Norris' "What is a Social Enterprise",
Allan Lim's "How to get started with the right problem/cause",
Syinc's own "Creating user-centred solutions to problems (ie. with design thinking)",
Bernard Leong's "Essential pieces of writing a great business plan",
and ending off with Harveen Narulla's "Building a great team".

We also had a special guest appearance from a past participant - Han Ying from Project Node. She shared her journey in starting her team's initiative, which had all sorts of colourful tribulations any early-stage SEpreneur might face. It was great to see how far her team had come since participating in RYSEC 2010.

We’ll be posting up videos and notes from the sessions over at the RYSEC page, so if you haven’t already, head over there and like it now! You’ll benefit by receiving notifications about the competition deadlines, and whenever we post up workshop materials. Fair deal eh?

Of course, what event wouldn't be complete without Murphy’s Law visiting. First, imagine a rainy day. Not good right? Now imagine it raining INSIDE THE GALLERY. Yes that’s right folks, the air-conditioner decided start leaking gushing whilst setting up for the workshop. T’was thanks to the fast thinking of Haresh and Vikram who negotiated a settlement with the aircon – it would stop pouring as long as it was switched off.

Thanks to all our awesome speakers, team mates, the White Canvas Folks (Colin, Maria, Gerald, and Hanna), and most importantly, our participants!

That’s it from us for now. Stay tuned for a following post about RYSEC workshop 2 (and mystery surprise)!

think&drink4: canteen operator politics, and others


 (Panelists of Think&Drink4. L-R: Simon Tay, Tessa Wong, Gillian Koh (moderator), Chan Meiyi and Benjamin Lee aka Mr Miyagi)

think&drink4 was different from our other sessions so far – it had a panel, it had politics. It was also all about the biggest thing that’s happened in Singapore since Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice. And what lies in the road ahead.

The where and when: TAB bar, Wed 25 May, 7-9pm (well, til later, really)

We had a former NMP and environmental champion (Prof Simon Tay), a ST political journalist (Tessa Wong), a freshly baked graduated History major (Chan Meiyi), and one of the most influential bloggers in Singapore (Benjamin Lee aka Mr Miyagi). Moderated by a socio-political policy expert (Dr Gillian Koh).

The audience: A motley mix of bankers, techies, greenies, wonks/experts, public servants, creatives, students, and other fellow social sector folk. 60 people turned up, way more than the 30-40 we were expecting. 29 people also tuned into the Livestream – nearly 50% of the people physically present! We're definitely going to consider doing them for future events.

Twitter: was a MASSIVE hit with everyone online #thinkdrink4


KEY THEMES which emerged (and interesting insights which popped up)...

Social media and GE2011

Tessa noted that opposition parties were more effective in using social media in their election campaigns, which may have created a dominant opposition bias in the social media battleground

Canteen operator

Interesting analogy from Simon - Imagine a network of school canteens which are run by a monopoly operator. This operator is a syndicate which allocates stalls to its favoured stallholders which they believe has a track record in serving the best quality food for the students and staff. On the other hand, illegal hawkers just outside the school merely seeking to make a humble living try fruitlessly to serve their fare, being not in the favoured list of this monopoly operator.

Greater participation, greater polarisation?

Gillian offered the idea that social media has had the ability to hasten the polarization of views. There were interesting mixed responses to this!

What we need for democracy 

Tessa expressed the wish that a more critically thinking and deliberative mindset is needed, if we want to experience democracy in our society.  And a mature media landscape is key to that.

Social media and national discourse 

Mr Miyagi commented that social media provides a check and balance, or simply an alternative, to the mainstream media. One issue to consider was whether social media might hasten or hamper the evolving maturity of discourse and diversity of viewpoints

And the most dominant theme

How much space ordinary Singaporeans have to engage and participate in the political process, not just via social media but beyond as well.

And of course ...

We can't finish this without BIG THANK YOU'S to: Ridzuan Ashim for live webstreaming, Cheesey, Nurul Shahida Sharafudin, Allan Lim & wife for photography, Rick and Ezra Er for videography, Douglas O'Loughlin for mediation on standby, and of course, TAB for your awesome help + venue!


L-R: Our lovely panel in action; Gillian picking up on thought-provoking tweets; You can't tell from the pic, but Simon's doing some great stand-up here; Bernise thinking aloud about Singaporeans' values and what people want in the media; And our kickass volunteer team (the guys are NOT taller than the girls, they're just on a platform)

Wanna join in the conversation? Check out our FB page.

think&drink4 | #sgelections: what now?

Bernise Ang

heard rumblings of something really interesting next Wednesday?

I'm here to confirm that the rumours are true: Syinc is hosting think&drink4 – featuring a panel of smart people saying interesting things about the #sgelections, what what it might mean for our future.
Moderated by Gillian Koh, the panel features Simon Tay, Tessa Wong, Chan Meiyi, and Mr Miyagi of SG blogosphere fame.
Wednesday, 25th May
7-9pm @ TAB bar (upstairs lounge L3)
Bring interesting friends!
SOCIAL MEDIA GEEKS: use the hashtag #thinkdrink4. unfortunately, ampersands get no hash love.

Bernise wins Singapore Woman Award 2011!

Bernise Ang

So MediaCorp runs the Singapore Woman Award annually to recognise the achievements of women in Singapore for being leaders in their field + socially responsible, and who serve as role models for Singapore women.

How it works: Public nominations, then whittling down to 10, then to 3 honourees, then one emerges. (Info based on comments by Georgina Chang, Chair of the SWA 2011, on Prime Time Morning segment April 13.) The selection process including both public voting as well as a panel of judges, comprising:

  • Laura Hwang, President, International Women’s Forum, Singapore
  • Elim Chew, Founder & President, 77th Street (S) Pte Ltd
  • Florence Lian, Managing Director, Radio, MediaCorp Pte Ltd

Official news announcement on TODAY here


SWA 2011 Gala Dinner: The Announcement

The MediaCorp CEO strode up on stage to announce the results of the Singapore Woman Award 2011. "She's not gonna win, She's not gonna win" we whispered to ourselves ... Bernise had "prepared" us in advance that the other contestants were favourites, and we were bracing ourselves for that "so near and yet so far moment"... So when Lucas Chow started reading a citation about how the winner had successfully networked and educated youth to lead social change, we stared at each other with wide-eyes and silly grins. 

"I think Bernise just won Woman of the Year!" we said to no one in particular.

And so she did, with a look of complete disbelief on her face. Taking a moment to collect herself, she received the award, and thanked those who had supported her.

When asked to give a few words she said something unusual, despite being red-faced on one glass of white wine: "I really shouldn't be here. I'm really humbled. Because the reason why I'm here is the result of the work of so many others before me, and I am only one of a broader movement that's working to create change in the world. This award should really go to the women – the people – out there being the change they want to see".

It was still a great moment for us all, nonetheless - and we savoured it.

Congratulations Bernise! We're proud of Syinc, and we're proud of you. 

Check out the flickr pics (captions included)


Think&Drink with Casey Wilson of Wokai (我开)

Bernise Ang

Left: our lovely crowd; Right: Casey Wilson from

Where it happened | Players Bar @ Clarke Quay

When | Mar 5 Saturday

Who | Casey Wilson, co-founder of

This Think&Drink was a big eye-opener on microfinance in China, and what Wokai is doing in that space. We learnt heaps on what's happening with Wokai and with China's MFI space - operationally, legally, financially. For example, did you know that Kiva, a similar web portal for peer-to-peer microlending of global reach (and made famous by Oprah), chose not to enter China because of the regulatory issues they would face? (Extra props to Casey and team for taking this on.)

Btw, anyone with any mandarin language abilities whatsoever should check out Casey's interview (comes in 3 parts!) on Phoenix TV in China. Her Chinese is impressive (and would put many Singaporeans to shame!).

More Pics

Our workshop @ IAVE

Bernise Ang

January 24-27 was the 21st World Volunteer Conference of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE)! Syinc co-ran a strategic planning workshop for their Youth Volunteer Conference.

Our co-facilitator was Debbie McDowall, manager of the Youth Enquiry Service at Dumfries & Galloway Council - all the way from Scotland! 

There's a fun back-story to this. Our first challenge: Debbie and Bernise only had the chance to meet the night before their workshop. So it was really only after the Youth Volunteer Conference dinner launch at *scape that they got to huddle over supper at the nearby Zi Char place to discuss how they would hack go about it.

Our second challenge: They hadn't got a chance to share their slides before then. So this was going to be a serious wing-it think-on-your-feet deal.

Our third challenge: It was to be a 2-hour workshop, with one hour per facilitator. So there wasn't much time to go deep into anything really.

How it worked out: Debbie ran a (rather comprehensive!) project planning 101 primer, and Bernise zoomed in on Root Cause Analysis. Both were pretty interactive segments - for the short time we had!

Check out what the Malaysian Youth Climate Justice Network (MYCJN), who participated in the workshop, had to say about it!

Props and shoutout to Debbie, an awesome co-facilitator and youth advocate doing amazing things back home! Check out her bio here.


Hello 2011

Bernise Ang

As we shared in the previous post, we did a lot of experimenting and horsing tinkering around - with ideas, methods, even ourselves. We learnt a lot from this experience - and it was precisely what we needed to learn to know how we should focus our energies in brand spanking new 2011.

So here's a sneak peak: 

  • Spark Plug: Our alternative education programme to help youngsters be able to creatively problem-solve - in this case, for human/social problems that they care about. We're gonna be doing some alpha and beta testing - as we go about our iteration and product development to get that elusive (but so within reach!) proof-of-concept for our model. The experience we gain from the (above-mentioned) consulting projects will be key in shaping this.
  • Design Thinking consulting: We're building up our DT chops by embarking on consultancy projects with a select few mission-driven organisations (that we think are interesting). The learning we gain from this work will directly shape our Spark Plug curriculum (yes, we're all about the real-world experience).
  • Think & Drink: What would we do without our beer-induced spirited conversations! You can look forward to even more informal, interesting, and spontaneous collision of people and ideas from different worlds.

Of course, we'll still be fielding our various speaking engagements, judging panel requests, and interviews (media or otherwise). In addition, expect to hear more on special projects dear to our heart, like RYSEC, Kids Design for Change, and others (you'll hear about it - we'll be makin' some noise right over here!).

Goodbye 2010

Bernise Ang

A brand new year is here - kinda hard to believe. Here's a look at what we achieved this past year, and what we've got up our sleeves next.

Highlights of 2010

2010 was a year of experimentation for us. As with all experiments, if you don't try, you never know. Here's what we got out of it:

[But first, a quick 101 on Design Thinking]: A way of problem-solving that uses both the analytical rigour and creativity of the design industry - except we're applying them to education for future solvers of human and social problems.

Syinconnect 2010 | Our flagship conference for budding changemakers. This year, using a little Design Thinking to conceptualise the conference, we prototyped it, revised our model, and ran it successfully (to our pleasant surprise!). Check out the 9 ideas our participants came up with. Pics galore


Think & Drink | Collaborating with the Singapore International Foundation, we launched our informal networking programme this April. Thanks to the speakers we hosted: Willie Smits from Netherlands, Preeyanan Lorsermvattana from Thailand, Joyce Djaelani Gordon from Indonesia, and Padmanabha Rao from India.


Spark Plug | Ah yes, more Design Thinking. We ran our first pilots of Spark Plug, our DT-based workshop for students as changemakers, at Singapore Poly. These successful pilots have given us tons of ideas + materials to work with for our curriculum next year. 

DT for Nonprofits | Did you know the Lien Centre for Social Innovation @SMU runs a programme called iLeap, for professional development of nonprofit executives? We found out too, when we were asked to run a "Design Thinking 101" segment as part of the programme. We made it super interactive - and it was fun running it!


RYSEC | Our major collaboration with Rotary - the Rotary Youth Social Entrepreneurship Challenge (or RYSEC). We helped set up the competition criteria, and put together the capacity building workshop for participants. Check out pics here. Congrats to winning team Jari Jemari!

Speaking | Apart from our public education talks at schools, some of the more notable speaking engagements of the year: World Entrepreneurship DayInternational Society for Technology and Education ConferenceTEDxYouth.

Bernise speaks at TEDxYouth

Bernise Ang

Here at Syinc, we're all huge fans of TED. So we were pretty stoked about Bernise speaking at TEDx Youth!

TEDx Youth Day is a global event with 32 countries/locations participating for the first time this year - spanning Tamil Nadu, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Bucharest, Sydney, Mexico, and more.  Though the different TEDx events had their own style, format and vibe, there was a common theme (as the website says): inspiring curiosity, igniting new ideas, empowering young leaders. 

Bernise spoke on her education experience growing up in Singapore, and about not letting people "take the 'crazy' out of you". She spoke directly to everyone in the room who had ever been punished for being - or thinking - different. And how her own transformative experiences have led to her unconventional perspective on education and the young person.

She spoke alongside: 

We've been receiving some really positive and heartfelt fanmail since - thanks for sending the love! (and you will be replied shortly!)

A glimpse of the pics:


Syinconnect '10: Design for Social Innovation

Bernise Ang

It's finally here! Syinconnect, the conference for young people who wanna create social change, is back.

Coming to a creative space near you this October:

Design for Change

Bernise Ang

"Contagious" is a good word.

This was the first line of a speech delivered by Kiran Bir Sethi from Ahmedabad, India, at a TED talk in Nov 2009. Her idea was simple: Show kids that "they can", and let them take local issues into their own hands - and make positive change in their community.

Her idea has since transformed into a phenomenon called Design for Change (DFC), a global initiative engaging more than 50,000 schools in over 30 countries. It targets kids aged 8-13 years, from any part of the world.

The challenge: Design solutions for problems that you encounter in your life, school, neighborhood or community, implement these solutions in a week, document your work - and submit it.

Syinc is a partner in the DFC country team in Singapore, and this is your call for submissions!

Register your team by Aug 31.

Teachers, students - get cracking.


Rotary Youth Social Entrepreneurship Challenge

Bernise Ang

Also known as RYSEC!

Brought to you by Syinc and the Rotary Club of Singapore, RYSEC is back after a successful pilot in 2009. RYSEC is a social business plan competition that aims to promote young people taking a stab at innovative ideas to use business rigour for social good.

This year, we've got 2 categories: Idea Launchpad and Project Accelerator.

To support you budding social entrepreneurs, headsup: We've got a capacity building workshop lined up for you on 11 Sept. All applicants, come. Watch this space.

Got an idea, and want to get started? Apply now.

Participants listening with rapt attention as Elim shares her story         

L-R: Kenny Low, founder of O School; The proof of Sarah Mavrinac's (founder of aidha) strategy mapping session; Conversation that couldn't stop after the workshop was over. Pics from RYSEC 2009 workshop. Photo credits to Richard WJ Koh of Amaranthine Photos.