By Kim Min Seok (13A03B)
Running a business shouldn’t come as a challenge for any member of the Raffles Entrepreneurs’ Network (REN). The club’s members are regularly exposed to various vicarious and unmediated business situations that train them for the real world.
Still, for Shurvin Ho, “REN is so much more than just running businesses. It’s about learning how to mature as a person, a leader and a Rafflesian.” “By being part of REN, members can not only pick up practical skills about running a business, but they can also enter competitions to pilot their ideas,” enthused Zera Ong, Vice-Chair of the club. “It is really a fulfilling and rewarding experience, my competition team had a turnover of a few thousand dollars last year!”
Members of REN, which was founded in 2003, participate in various national and international level competitions, including the prestigious Students for the Global Advancement of Entrepreneurship and Start-up@Singapore.
“We are a really tightly-knit community. Ideas just come together when we discuss things. It’s like an intersection of truly unique perspectives,” said Kim Min Seok, Public Relations Director at REN. “Our obligations as students do not fetter our ambitions. We really want to experience what it really is like to be an entrepreneur,” he explained.
The club holds weekly 3-hour general meetings (GMs), during which members share various industry insights and perspectives. “I really gained so much from these sessions, I even compiled a list of memorable business ideas and entrepreneurs!” said member Isabel Chew.
Various industry experts and start-up founders are also invited to their GMs to discuss their experiences. Social enterprise pioneers such as Sourabh Sharma, founder of Milaap, have also been invited. In 2010, the club invited Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.
“Social enterprise is something we really hold dear to our hearts,” said Chairman Annabel Tay. “We don’t just try to make money, but we also consider the social impacts and consequences behind what we do. That’s why social enterprise is so crucial in both our club and the enterprise world today.”
New members are selected through interviews, and will be challenged to delve into their entrepreneurial selves. “We aren’t looking for the ‘perfect businessmen’ – that would be unfair for those who are genuinely interested but lack experience,” explained Ms Ong. “We want members who are truly passionate, dedicated and love entrepreneurship.”
Recruits will have to go through an induction camp. The camp, which involves a ‘Mini Business Pitch Competition’ to give new members a taste of what the club has to offer, takes place annually in March. “The camp was really enjoyable and allowed me to genuinely explore entrepreneurship,” mused member Chong Yong Xing. “The camp is certainly tiring, but it was so fun!” Mr Chong added with a grin. Given the club’s reputation, the interviews are known to be highly competitive. In 2012, only 25 fortunate recruits could join the club, out of the 150 students who applied.