Avelyn Lee: Leading Singapore's Fastest-Growing Social Enterprise, Focusing On Upskilling & Empowering Vulnerable Communities

Avelyn Lee: Leading Singapore's Fastest-Growing Social Enterprise, Focusing On Upskilling & Empowering Vulnerable Communities

Avelyn Lee,  Director

Avelyn Lee


To create a more accepting and equitable community in Singapore, The Social Kitchen 'TSK' has launched a new program designed to assist persons experiencing homelessness, those with mental health issues, and other disadvantaged communities in finding gainful employment. Under Avelyn's direction, The Social Kitchen transforms underutilized kitchens into Cloud Kitchens maintained by recognizable F&B firms that provide dine-in, takeout, and delivery. In addition, as a social business, The Social Kitchen works in tandem with local nonprofits to run its commercial kitchen and café for the benefit of vulnerable communities.

Avelyn Lee, Director of The Social Kitchen, has worked in the private banking and wealth management industry for over 20 years. She has extensive experience working with ultra-high-net-worth customers in a variety of financial institutions. Below is an excerpt of Avelyn Lee’s exclusive interaction with CEO Insights ASIA.

How has been your journey so far with The Social Kitchen and what drives you today?

At The Social Kitchen, it's my responsibility to make the company more long-lasting and sustainable. As for me, my time spent with The Social Kitchen has only been fulfilling and delightful. Our goal at The Social Kitchen is to help the vulnerable community become more self-sufficient by providing them with the training and education they need to improve their employability and increase their earning potential. More than that, we want them to feel welcome in the neighbourhood by promoting diversity. Over the course of the previous two years, throughout the extremely challenging period which is the COVID phase, we have seen that this strategy is sustainable and successful. And now, we'd want to push this in the direction of becoming more scalable so that we can aid even more people. Thus, we are always on the lookout for ways to use our platform to benefit the forgotten ones and the community's most vulnerable members.

How would you define The Social Kitchen as an organization and its position in the market?

When compared to other companies, our approach to ESG is really innovative. We assist individuals right from building their intellectual prosperity to becoming upskilled so that they may become financially independent, which is the hardest and most difficult portion of The Social Kitchen's CSR journey to quantify. Further, when we aid a person, we aid his or her loved ones, the economy, and the community as a whole. Unlike other businesses, which narrow their attention to the regions where they may make a profit, this one encompasses a vast territory. In my opinion, not enough focus is being placed on the space in which we operate.

Could you tell me about The Social Kitchen's adoption of sustainable business practices and the company's aim for a prosperous approach?

The Social Kitchen takes a holistic approach to sustainability by prioritizing the social and emotional well-being of its members, as well as their capacity to support themselves economically, before considering any other factors. However, since we are mostly cafés, many landlords have requested that we transform their concrete walls into a social place, a dynamic environment that gives back to the community. Our approach is to work with renowned food & Beverage 'F&B' companies to train and integrate the vulnerable community rather than to canvass donations. Our partners will handle the cooking and food preparation, while we concentrate on the personnel in the front of the house, and this collaborative effort allows us to meet the social needs of the community. Meanwhile, we can send delicious treats to our supporters. As a result of this, we've learned that teaming up with F&Bs yields fantastic results. In addition, we have opened eleven cafés in Singapore so far; each one follows a similar pattern, with some minor variations here and there, but all of them work in tandem with F&Bs.

Going forward, what are the changes in market behavior that you anticipate, and what are the opportunities that you foresee?

For what's to come, I'm feeling very optimistic. Many corporations and government agencies are actively promoting diversity and inclusion, with a particular emphasis on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns. For instance, the Singaporean government has made it a requirement that all publicly traded firms in the country must annually publish an ESG report. Hopefully, it would inspire people to continue doing nice deeds, therefore that's why it's beneficial. As an added bonus, when the government takes such an action, it receives widespread public attention. Furthermore, although it may take some time, eventually everyone will be able to support and contribute to this ESG drive. I believe that there is a rising amount of awareness of it and that the opportunity it presents is substantial. With regard to the same, many businesses have come to us for assistance in planning events, and we are grateful for their support. Lots of big companies are eager to expand their horizons, and they come to us for advice and assistance whenever they want to include social features into their otherwise purely business environments.

Our approach is to work with F&Bs to train and integrate the vulnerable community rather than to canvass for donations

TSK is reaching out to businesses and other organizations in an effort to find a long-term solution for the disadvantaged people of Asia. To aid marginalized communities, we advocate for the incorporation of ESG concepts into corporate purpose statements. To a population that has been overlooked for far too long, we can provide hope and fulfillment with the help of our governments and the business community.

TSK is always interested in collaborating with people and organizations who share a commitment to adapting ESG's standard operating procedure to the needs of the most vulnerable among us.

Avelyn Lee, Director, The Social Kitchen

Avelyn Lee was born and raised in Singapore, and she has spent over 20 years working in private banking and wealth management. Avelyn is now focusing to establish The Social Kitchen as a platform through which she can give back to the community.


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