From trendy nail salons to chic restaurants to ethical fashion stores, these companies are all about conscious living and empowering the underprivileged.
Thinking about how to spend your time meaningfully? Wanna feel like part of your community? Good news: there are many opportunities to do just that beyond volunteering at the nearby soup kitchen or donating your pre-loved items to various charities. If you want to put your money behind something impactful, social enterprises in Singapore are a great way to support a good cause. And they deserve a damn good shoutout!
Social enterprises in Singapore doing good
1. The Clay Day
If you’ve been shopping around flea markets and pop-ups (like we love to), you might have noticed intricate handmade ceramic accessories by The Clay Day. Necklaces, earrings and accessories – you’ll find them all here. The brand supports workshops and their socially disadvantaged artisans in Cambodia. It also aims to collaborate with local businesses that hire disadvantaged individuals.
The Clay Day, available online
2. The Social Space
It’s a socially conscious haven at The Social Space, a multi-concept store that features a tea bar, cafe and fair trade retail area – all rolled into one. Cheryl and Daniel Ou are the power couple behind this wonderful space that trains and employs underprivileged people. Trust us, you’ll want to bring your reusable shopping bag for this to shop ethical goodies like recycled tire footwear by Indosole, bamboo sunnies from Bambike and Sen Natural’s beauty products. And don’t even get us started on the “refillery”! Stock up on castile soap, shampoo, surface cleaner and dishwashing liquid sans pesky plastic bottles, as you’re encouraged to bring your own. Its Chinatown location also features a nail salon, while its Marina One spot houses a second-floor space for pop-ups and workshops.
The Social Space, multiple locations including Kreta Ayer Road and Marina One Residences
Started by a team who lovingly believes in “the power of flowers,” this floral studio is all about preserved blooms. Not only are they longer-lasting than fresh florals, but they’re also friendlier to the environment. Its beauty isn’t only skin deep, though. The social enterprise also offers skill training and employment for the marginalised. It’s the sweetest thing, really.
BloomBack, available online and at #05-70, Lobby A, The Vertex, 33 Ubi Avenue 3, Singapore 408868
4. Boheme Style Nomads
This brand seeks to help single mums who are their family’s sole breadwinners. As its name suggests, you’ll find a lovely mix of bohemian-inspired jewellery with materials sourced sustainably (whenever possible) from artisans but hand-assembled by these ladies in Singapore. Keeping the “feel-good fashion” mantra alive, the founders work with the company as volunteers and give a fair wage of 40% to these hardworking women.
Boheme Style Nomads, available online
5. The Sowing Room
Already swooning over these gorgeous fabric pouches and masks with fun prints? Wait till you hear the story behind them. These covetable accessories are handsewn by women who have survived abuse, labour and sexual exploitation. They’re now employed and trained by The Sowing Room, earning fair wages for their beautiful creations. The social enterprise is also known for collabs with renowned fabric brands like Onlewo. We just love seeing more brands come together to do good!
The Sowing Room, PM on Facebook to order
6. My Nonna’s
Pasta, anyone? We’re all for having Italian at My Nonna’s. This restaurant employs the elderly and persons with special needs to serve at its canteen stalls in schools, providing them with ample training and a small income for that extra boost. The food is as good as its service, with pasta dishes and antipasti made from the original recipes of the founder’s grandmother. Ah, our hearts (and stomachs) are full. My Nonna’s also does catering for all your party and event needs, should you need some help in that department.
My Nonna’s, order online or visit the Facebook page for events
7. Sonder Social
We’ve already sung the praises of Asia’s first ethical subscription box Sonder Social, which features fair trade items and lovely pieces created by social enterprises around the region. The company’s founders are all about providing a platform for these small brands to sell their products and raising awareness on how they’re doing great things. Focusing on gift boxes that are curated with socially responsible and eco-friendly goodies, Sonder Social’s items include plantable pens, upcycled wood and plastic coasters, bamboo cutlery sets and beauty goods.
Sonder Social, available online
8. The Bettr Group
What started out in 2011 as a homegrown specialty coffee company with a social mission has since expanded to include a training academy, retail products, social impact programmes and more. Bettr Barista offers professional coffee training, while Bettr Coffee Company features mobile coffee experiences, retail bars and sustainably sourced coffee products. The biz is committed to empowering vulnerable groups with its four-month Bettr Holistic Training Programme that upskills marginalised women and at-risk youth. Oh, and if you want fresh coffee delivered to your door, subscribe to Bettr Cloud Bar for your daily dose of caffeine! Best of all, the brand actively works to reduce its carbon footprint by repurposing and recycling as much as possible.
The Bettr Group, multiple locations
9. The Animal Project
In love with all things furry and fuzzy? This social enterprise in Singapore sells a selection of lifestyle goods stamped with artwork drawn by persons with special needs. Think homeware, stationery, bags, decorative items and tees all set to a quirky animal theme.
The Animal Project, available online
10. The Nail Social
We’ll admit, we love The Nail Social at Haji Lane. The salon is run by the same folks behind The Social Space. It offers manicure, pedicure and foot massage services by underprivileged women. These ladies are hired and trained for a chance to pick up a useful skill and gain self-sufficiency. Their work is amazing, the nail polish used is non-toxic. We’re big fans of their fantastic service and the personal screens that allow a bit of a movie binge while you get your nails done!
The Nail Social, L2, 42A Haji Lane, Singapore 189235
We’re huge fans of this homegrown brand! And not just because its light leather shoes are, hands down, the comfiest we’ve ever worn. (Seriously, try them on and you’ll see what we’re talking about – it’s like walking on clouds.) Anothersole’s Buy1Feed1 initiative is a pledge to use 10% of its profits to support children in need. So when you invest in a pair, you’re helping the company provide food supplies and support underfunded orphanages.
Anothersole, available online
12. Ugly Cake Shop
Nah, the cakes here are anything but ugly. In fact, this bakery, which specialises in artisanal cakes, helps to support undernourished kids in Timor Leste – part of its earnings go to a school’s nutritional funds. The shop certainly doesn’t scrimp on flavour either, using only high-quality ingredients and all-natural flavours so you can go all out and indulge your sweet tooth… for a good cause.
Ugly Cake Shop, #01-06, GB Point, 535 Kallang Bahru, Singapore 339351
13. Hello Flowers
Got a special birthday coming up? Hoping to gift someone a beautiful bouquet? The next time you’re dreaming of pretty blooms, think about Hello Flowers. As a social enterprise floral studio, it supports women who are unable to work or hold full-time jobs due to various reasons. Besides employing them, the company also runs a social training programme. That equips women with the necessary skills and gives them a platform to sell their crafts and works. Other community initiatives it participates in include floral therapy workshops and repurposing wedding flowers.
Hello Flowers, #03-39, 52 Chin Swee Road, Singapore 160052
14. Seeds Cafe
Rainbow Centre wants to empower persons with developmental disabilities and provide them with an inclusive environment to develop skills. Seeds Cafe at its Margaret Drive campus is one of its initiatives. Here’s where you can check out the social space that offers F&B training opportunities to young people with these disabilities. Grab a nice cuppa while you’re here, or participate in one of the many workshops and events.
Seeds Cafe, 501 Margaret Drive, Singapore 149306
15. Five &2
Located at a scenic waterfront spot in Punggol Park, this restaurant and bar is certainly a relaxing dining affair. It’s only open later in the day, so you can easily pop by for casual dinner fare with your friends while enjoying a couple of drinks. On the sustainability front, the eatery provides equal job opportunities and an inclusive working environment for the marginalised. It also invites underprivileged families to its space for nutritious meals in a bid to serve the community.
Five &2, Punggol Park, 97 Hougang Avenue 8, Singapore 538792
There you have it; all the social enterprises in Singapore to support!