A nail salon that equips marginalised women with employability skills, a cake shop that helps feed hungry children, and an online shop which provides a platform for women from third world countries to sell handmade items. We highlight the Singaporean, female entrepreneurs behind these purpose-driven, profit-making enterprises. Here’s part one of three of this feature:
Cheryl Ou and Germaine Monteiro, The Nail Social
How does The Nail Social help local underprivileged women?
We run a vocational training & employment programme with several family services centres and social service agencies in Singapore, and our main aim is to provide women with an interest in the beauty industry with an opportunity to learn a professional skill that could increase their chances of gaining employment. The women go through a professional manicurist course at an accredited nail academy, and this means that the certificate that they receive after passing their exams is fully recognised by MOE and other advanced learning institutions. We sponsor the full course fees and provide all materials for them to learn and practice, and mentor them throughout their learning and employment journey.
Since January last year, we have accepted 10 women into the programme. Although we have had a few dropouts, I hope that whatever skills they have learnt with us will benefit them in future.
How do you get in touch with these women who need help?
We are constantly in touch with social workers at several family services centres and social service agencies in Singapore, and they help us to reach out to the underprivileged women under their care and refer them to us if they are suitable.
Social enterprises do not want to be recognised for only their social mission. While we are proud of our social impact, we do not want customers to patronise us solely to support our cause as that is not sustainable. We would like to be known for our unique service offerings, excellent skills and great customer service, as these are the factors that make us a viable business.
Social entrepreneurs are more than just business owners and employers, most times we also have to be mentors, counsellors, confidants, therapists and shrinks all rolled into one! Due to the background of the beneficiaries we work with, we try to be as involved in their lives as possible and this means we constantly have to take on different roles.