An Innovative Platform For Doing Good
Germaine Lim used the pandemic-induced lull to pivot her business into a social enterprise, helping charities to raise funds.
Germaine Lim’s business was hit hard in 2020 when the pandemic struck. Through the two lean years that followed, Ms Lim and her business partner pivoted Elpis@Hideout – a company that started off creating branding and media solutions for their corporate clients – into the social enterprise she had envisioned at the start of her entrepreneurial journey.
Apart from helping their corporate clients, her firm also leveraged its wide connections to help charities with their outreach and fundraising efforts through innovative platforms.
The company saw strong demand among companies keen to participate in its campaigns. Elpis@Hideout has since emerged from the Covid-19 crisis as a thriving business.
Before starting Elpis@Hideout, Ms Lim was the Director of Strategic Partnership for SingEx, where she managed relationships with clients from major organisations across ASEAN .
BiZQ speaks to Ms Lim about her decision to leave a successful career to start her own business, and how she has benefited as a member of SBF’s Singapore Women Entrepreneurs Network (SG-WEN).
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming an entrepreneur?
50 is a very significant age for me. It was a pivotal time when I took a big step – I resigned from my job and started my own business.
I knew that if I didn’t start it by the time I was 50, I never would, because most people by that stage wouldn’t want to rock the boat. But I felt that it was the right time for me to rock the boat in a major way.
Can you describe what your company, Elpis@Hideout, does?
We always wanted to operate as a social enterprise, which means that in whatever we do, there must be a positive social impact.
However, we did not really focus on this vision in our early years in 2018 and 2019. Those were very good years for us and we were getting a lot of clients from ASEAN and helping them build campaigns.
Then in 2020, the pandemic hit and we literally had no more work coming in.
That’s when we decided that we needed to pivot our business. We also decided that everything that we embark on moving forward must have a social cause attached to it. So, in 2020, my partner and I started the “Do Good, Send Love” campaign that raised $150,000, which was used to buy 25,000 meals to feed 12,000 people.
This campaign gave us a foundation to think about how we wanted to move on as a social enterprise. Today, we are a social enterprise for profit, but one where part of our profits will go back to doing good again.
So, when did things start to turnaround?
While Covid-19 was not a good thing, the silver lining was that it also showed that people genuinely want to do good, but perhaps sometimes they just don’t know how to. So, we decided to help charities and non-profit organisations. Their main lifeline comes from fundraising, and we come in to help them raise funds more effectively and creatively.
Our strengths are in media relations, event management and campaign building, so we were able to help them in these areas. In September last year, we were privileged to partner with Dementia Singapore to start a fund-raising campaign called “A Dollar a Day”, and since then we have helped them raise over $50,000.
In January this year, we started our own fundraising initiative – a campaign series called ‘Action for Good’. Under this initiative, clients can choose to partner with us under three pillars – ‘Eat for Good’, ‘Play for Good’, and ‘Change for Good’ – on which we build fundraising and awareness campaigns.
Our business started to turn around once we launched ‘Action for Good’ and has been doing well ever since.
Can you give us an example of how ‘Action for Good’ works?
An example of how ‘Action for Good’ works is our partnership with SG-WEN, when we organised our first ‘Eat for Good’ event. It was a dinner held in celebration of International Women’s Day at Shima restaurant. We managed to raise over $10,000, which has gone towards helping underprivileged kids in Cambodia and Singapore.
Such special fund-raising ideas are what we are good at doing. As of April, we are already at full capacity for ‘Action for Good’ events until the end of the year.
It’s just you and your partner working in the company. How do you leverage external resources to grow your business?
My business partner and I oversee the conceptualisation of the campaign. After that, we go out and find the necessary people and resources for execution, and for things we will not be able to handle ourselves.
There is a big gig economy out there, so we are able to bring talent in on a project basis; but they have to be on the same wavelength as us. For example, we are now building a media sales force called “Seniors with Connection” which consists of people aged 50 years and above who have decided to take a different path in their career.
Why did you join SG-WEN and what do you hope to achieve there?
The Chairperson of SG-WEN, Ms Rachel Eng happens to be a very dear friend of mine. She asked some of us to join SG-WEN because she believes we all share the same vision. Through this network, we can showcase the success of female entrepreneurs, and inspire other women to take that leap.
The platform itself is so helpful because you get to meet many talented female entrepreneurs, and when you ask for help, many of them will come forward. I’m blessed to be a part of this group.
Singapore Women Entrepreneurs Network (SG-WEN)
Launched by SBF in September 2021, SG-WEN seeks to bring together women entrepreneurs in Singapore and connect them with other women entrepreneurs, business leaders, and trade associations in ASEAN and the rest of the Asia-Pacific. The network has been designated as Singapore’s official representative at the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network.
For more information on SG-WEN, please visit www.sbf.org.sg/business-expansion/singapore-women-entrepreneurs-network or contact the SBF Secretariat team at [email protected]