Part A of the case, set in January 2017, delves into the concerns of Jeff Kwan, Director of Social Enterprises and Employment Development (SEED), over mission drift and talent conflict relating to the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS), a non-profit organisation in Singapore. MINDS supervised the welfare of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (PwIDs), referred to as ‘clients’, and provided them with education. SEED was an ancillary unit of MINDS that created employment opportunities for the clients after they completed school, usually at the age of 18.
Employment Development Centres (EDCs) under SEED provided vocational training and employment suitable for clients. Depending on their capabilities, the clients were employed in the open market, directly by the EDCs, or were engaged in activities at MINDS’ day activity centres. The objective of the vocational training was to prepare the clients for jobs in the open market, but these were not always available or convenient. Hence, SEED was under pressure to create more job opportunities in response to the growing demand. MINDS established Social Enterprises (SEs) such as MINDS Water and MINDS Bakers. Over time, the SEs appeared to have overtaken the social mission of MINDS and had outgrown its managerial resources. Kwan and his team had to come up with a solution that effectively realigned MINDS’ activities with its mission of caring for PwIDs.
Part B of the case, set in early 2017, follows MINDS soon after it revamped its training programmes to improve the employability of clients and established a social enterprise incubator in which the incubatees would be required to provide jobs for the clients in return for a rent-free space to run their businesses. But Kwan still had to figure out a sustainable means of funding the incubator.
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