Set in February 2018, the case follows Gillian Tee and Lily Phang, the co-founders of Homage, a Singapore-based tech startup providing on-demand home care service to the elderly. Homage was founded as a solution to the growing social problems caused by an ageing population—the proportion of Singaporeans aged 65 years and above was on the rise while the support ratio was declining rapidly.
Challenged by the shortage of skilled labour, the limited capacity of facilities, and rising costs, the government was keen on promoting the concept of families and communities as the first line of care for the elderly. However, tending to the needs of elderly family members was affecting the social, family and work life of family caregivers. Such informal caregiving was also causing discomfort to the elderly care recipients. The incumbent care agencies relied on foreign workers due to the shortage of a trained local workforce; their conventional operating model was less effective in meeting the requirements of the care recipients, and coordination between the care recipient and the care professionals was erratic and tedious.
Homage’s smartphone-based application addressed these problems in caregiving by matching elderly care recipients to care professionals based on more than 50 different criteria. The application empowered heretofore dormant caregivers to choose service requests that matched their terms and skill levels. By automating the entire process, the application rendered a seamless and cost-effective on-demand service for the elderly while creating flexible income opportunities for those who had dropped out of the workforce.
After gaining ground in the market and securing funds for growth, Gillian and Lily were gearing up for scaling the business by driving up its adoption and usage. However, they had to prepare for the accompanying potential challenges.
Executive education, undergraduate and graduate level students will understand how to: analyse the social impact of a demographic change; adopt technology for social innovation; apply social innovations to effect systemic change; manage the drivers and barriers of social innovation to effect systemic change; use social enterprises to promote social innovation; make use of grants and private capital drive to enable social innovation; scale social innovations and choose the right scaling strategy.
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