Building Bridges, Building Community

September 24, 2017 | Shaun Teo

Leaving the “Cambridge bubble” to enter the real world has brought significant changes. I am getting into the routine of adult life, learning a lot at work and enjoying life in London. But if I’m honest, I often find it difficult to sustain my passion to make a difference in the world now that I face many demands at work. I fear that the quest for success in my career (albeit not a bad thing) will mean that I devote all my efforts toward self-advancement at the expense of spending valuable time for social impact. What if I subconsciously slip into apathy and indifference towards the needs of this broken world, becoming the very person that my idealistic younger self warned against?

However, the constant encouragement I have received from the BfE community never fails to make me hopeful that it is possible to sustain my passion for social development. Sometimes, my younger self thought that it was a lonely journey to battle injustices around the world. It was all too easy to believe that nothing I could do would make a tangible impact. BfE has taught me that this simply isn’t true. Through BfE I have met inspiring social enterprise founders, students and professionals in our community who identify with these struggles. They proactively make choices that bridge the gap between careers in the city and social development. They are role models for me of what it means to pursue excellence and success, but simultaneously to pursue a generous love for others through the gift of their time and resources. Their passion inspires me to carry on in this journey.

Mother Theresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Through empowering social entrepreneurs, the BfE team works together to cast out their own “stone across the waters”. These entrepreneurs are well-placed to benefit their communities because they launch businesses that provide sustainable growth and target specific needs that benefit the communities they work in. This provides the ripple effect that multiplies change to reach many more people. Together as a community, we dream big and implement new programmes that seek to use our skills to make a difference in the world.

BfE has also taught me that it is more effective to work as a community than to work alone. Even though it sometimes seems impossible to solve the world’s biggest problems, at BfE, everyone brings their unique skill set (e.g business, finance, consulting, legal) to the table. This means we can achieve much more and deliver a far more comprehensive programme to our clients than any individual could manage.

To continue developing this sense of community, BfE is proud to introduce two new initiatives. Firstly, we have created local chapters in cities across the world. Our communities in Cambridge, London, New York, Singapore, Shanghai (and more to come in the future) are platforms whereby like-minded individuals can meet and encourage each other to use their career skill sets to help social impact startups. Our second initiative is the launch of an online members portal on our website. We hope that this will allow our members from over 40 countries around the world to form an outward-looking community.

It is my sincere hope that, by building bridges and building community, we will create many ripples across our world; encouraging many others to bridge the gap and creating a better world together.