By Adri Faris (18A13A) and Grace Lau (18S03I)
On 26th July, Rafflesians thronged My Work Space as Raffles Entrepreneur’s Network (REN) officially opened their co-op shop, REN.CO, to the school population. REN is an official Co-Curricular Activity (CCA) which gathers students with a passion for entrepreneurship and equips them with the necessary skills to become successful entrepreneurs of the future. When Raffles Press visited the shop on its opening day, business was brisk and members of REN were all kept on their toes. To gain insight into their business operations, our writers interviewed some members of REN.
Disclaimer: Some responses have been edited for the sake of clarity.
Press: How long has this project been going on? What is the motivation and inspiration behind this project?
Raffles Entrepreneur’s Network (REN): This project has been going on for a year. Every year, we will launch the shop opening for the incoming batch of JC1 students. This helps to raise awareness for what our CCA does and helps our beneficiaries too.
Press: What were some of the things you had to consider before setting up the shop?
REN: We had to consider the cost of decorations and stocks amongst other things. This was especially crucial as we had a limited budget. There were also many logistical issues to take into consideration when setting up the shop since we had limited manpower. One of the more classic but honest examples to highlight this problem is shown in how we had to ensure smooth payment and collection of products.
Press: How did you conceptualise the store?
REN: After careful discussion, we actually decided to go with an earthly vibe with nature as our theme. The direction of our decoration was also intended to fit the theme! As green is our school colour, we felt that it was most suitable to decorate our shop this way.
Press: Why sell these types of merchandise specifically? (T-shirts, drawstring bags, socks)
REN: We sell merchandise like T-shirts, singlets and drawstring bags because they are actually very popular among the school population as seen from our previous sales. Their design serves to represent the school and its community. We thought that cute socks would be popular among the school population but unfortunately they did not sell too well!
Press: Where does the money made go to?
REN: A part of our proceeds will go to the 1823 Fund and our other beneficiaries. The remaining funds are dedicated to the sustainment and further development of our CCA as well as the shop. We look at buying new products!
(The 1823 Fund was launched on 15 August 2009. It enables the school to address immediate areas of financial need not met or not fully met by government funding, and sustains the school’s programmes and initiatives.)
Press: After 3 days of sale, what do you think went wrong and what could have been done better?
REN: We feel that things could have gone more smoothly and that the situation in the shop may have been too chaotic. We should have ordered more stocks as well since they ran out pretty fast!
Press: What can we expect in the future?
REN: Currently, our items are all out of stock! There are pre-order forms at tinyurl.com/rencomerch. Payment will be collected beforehand and the stocks will arrive a few weeks later. In future, there will be new designs for new products. We are also having a Polaroid booth for instant photo taking services. There will also be birthday services as well! Do look out for them!
Having purchased T-shirts and drawstring bags from REN.CO themselves, our writers are pleased to say that the merchandise were of great quality. The designs were also appealing, which justified the prices. The fact that proceeds also contributed to the 1823 Fund and helping their fellow brothers and sisters in the school made the entire experience even more heartwarming.
Looking at the bigger picture, REN is evidence of the growing emphasis on developing Singaporeans’ entrepreneurial spirit. There is indeed a pressing need for our next generation of leaders to be well-equipped with the ability to innovate and create, in order for our nation to continue to thrive amid challenging times.
Raffles Press would like to commend the REN team for seizing the opportunity to use their entrepreneurial skills to help others, and to get the student body involved in this worthy cause as well.