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Speech by Prof Tan Tai Yong at the SUSS x WE-Empower Master Signing Ceremony

  • His Excellency Suryo Pratomo, Ambassador of Indonesia

  • Guest-of-Honour, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Former Senior Minister of Singapore

  • Professor Shih Choon Fong, Non-Executive Chairman, WE-Empower 

  • The Menaro Family

  • Distinguished guests

  • Friends and colleagues of SUSS and WE-Empower 


  1. Good morning, and a warm welcome to the signing of a significant master agreement between Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and WE-Empower.

  1. Led by WE-Empower, this collaboration marks a remarkable milestone in our collective journey towards creating environmental, social and governance sustainability impact across communities and villages in ASEAN.

Background of collaboration

  1. When WE-Empower first approached SUSS for a collaboration, I was both intrigued and inspired by its cause of empowering grassroot entrepreneurs by involving business families and institutes of higher education. There are countless possibilities that this collaboration could bring, and many ways in which that SUSS could contribute to impact lives beyond Singapore, and more importantly, at the grassroot level.

  2. What sets grassroot entrepreneurship apart is that these entrepreneurs are often driven by a strong sense of social responsibility and a desire to make a positive impact on their immediate surroundings. They identify gaps in the local market, recognise the needs of their community and develop solutions to address them.

  1. Hence by empowering grassroot entrepreneurs, we are not merely helping to build and grow their social enterprises; we are also creating a ripple effect of positive change.

  1. When these entrepreneurs thrive, they create jobs and boost local economies. Moreover, they often adopt sustainable practices in their businesses, such as promoting environmentally friendly methods to restore and preserve natural resources.

  1. Recognising how WE-Empower’s purpose aligns with SUSS’ vision as a leading university for social good, SUSS embraced the opportunity to be WE-Empower’s chosen education partner to share our expertise and resources in transforming lives within communities in ASEAN.

  1. This collaboration also amplifies our commitment to create a more inclusive society and we look forward to working closely with WE-Empower to achieve these shared goals.

Role of SUSS in this collaboration and how it benefits SUSS

  1. With our distinctive focus on social sciences, applied learning approach and dedication to social impact, SUSS brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and resources to this partnership.

  1. Armed with insights of emerging trends, our faculty will team up with our students to launch studies to help WE-Empower develop innovative solutions that can be implemented at the grassroots level.

  1. We will also work with WE-Empower to design entrepreneurship programmes, which leverage existing SUSS programmes such as Impact Startup Challenge and Venture Builder Programme, as well as various sustainability programmes, all aimed at empowering grassroots entrepreneurs to create sustainable businesses, address local challenges, and contribute to improving livelihoods within their communities.

  1. The collaboration between SUSS and WE-Empower holds immense benefits for our students. It provides them with invaluable opportunities to engage in real-world projects, gain hands-on experience, and develop practical skills.

  1. Through internships and experiential learning initiatives, our students will be able to work directly with grassroots entrepreneurs and business families. They will have the chance to understand their challenges, learn from their experiences, and contribute meaningfully to their ventures. At the same time, our students will also gain invaluable perspectives from across the region.

  1. This collaboration will not only enhance our students' academic journey but also equip them with the skills, network, empathy, and social consciousness necessary to become responsible leaders and change-makers for an inclusive world.


  1. In closing, I would like to express my appreciation to WE-Empower for the opportunity to join them on this unique journey to drive positive change and create a lasting impact that transcends boundaries and resonates across village communities in ASEAN.

  1. I would also like to thank the Menaro family for their generous donation of S$1 million to this initiative. Their contribution, which came through WE-Empower, will help to kickstart the first grassroot enterprise in Indonesia.

  1. Let us join hands and lend support to these grassroots entrepreneurs as they shape a better tomorrow for their communities. Together, we can build a future that is environmentally sustainable, socially inclusive, and economically vibrant.

  1.  Thank you. 

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