I was nominated by Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF), to represent both SNCF and National Youth Council to take part in the first ever Singapore-Indonesia Youth Leadership Exchange Programme (SIYLEP).

I am glad to be given this opportunity to attend SIYLEP and most importantly throughout this exchange programme, I have learnt to think in a more macro perspective of the world, on how a cooperative effort can indeed help in difficult problems.


The theme of SIYLEP was “Innovation and enterprise”. Each of us were paired with an Indonesian delegate to befriend and assist them in anything they were unsure about. As we spoke, I realised we all had a diverse view on certain topics and aspects of life as we were from different sectors – Private, public & people.


I met a bulk of Indonesian delegates who had a social cause of which they feel strongly about. Interestingly, they are social causes such as making audio books more available for blind people and heading projects that concern cleaning of marine debris to save the marine eco system. Let’s think about it, as Singaporeans, are these some things that we think or care about? That doesn’t seem like the case.


This hit me really hard as here I am thinking about what and how to improve my way of life. But there they are, thinking about how to improve the lives of others with their strengths. Their sense of community and their heart has enlightened me.



The following days were packed with discussions on topics such as ASEAN in the fourth industrial revolution and Socio-economic challenges in Singapore & Indonesia. Other than that, we also went for team building at Bettr Barista, a Social Enterprise, where we were divided into teams to create our very own styles of coffees! Another Social Enterprise we visited was Eighteen Chefs where we were honoured to have Chef Benny, the founder of Eighteen Chefs, to come down and share with us about his inspirational story of how he turned around and smiled in the face of adversity.



Aside from the good food and good company, we also visited Singapore’s tech start-up scene at Block71, where technology start-up were put in one common location for increased synergy and economies of scale. Singapore’s bid to be a smart nation enables us to shed some light on how our efficiencies in certain areas such as transport, connectivity and access to government grants enable Singaporeans to lead a better quality life, and a strong entrepreneurial eco system.


Indonesia’s equivalent of SNCF is DEKOPIN. DEKOPIN performs the tasks of promoting the ideal, values and principles of co-operative; representing Indonesian co-operative movement both at domestic and international forums; and undertake the role as a counterpart of the government in the development of co-operative in Indonesia.


However, my Indonesian partner mentioned that cooperatives in Indonesia have a long regulatory framework which reduces the efficiency of making decisions. Although not the most popular route, cooperatives in Indonesia still remain relevant. For example, newly-founded cooperative Koperasi Digital Indonesia Mandiri (KDIM) started a brand “Digicoop” to produce smartphones locally, thereby increasing jobs and strengthening the domestic cell phone market.


All in all, I was greatly inspired by the many Singaporeans and Indonesians that I’ve met in this 5 days. My perspective has widened in terms of what we as Singaporeans can offer to aid our social sectors. I also forged a stronger bond with a country which I never knew had the capacity and potential to be a huge economic game changer in the ASEAN region. I look forward to going to Jakarta next year, to meet up with my new found friends and see what this wonderful country has to offer!



About the author: Darren Lim, 24, Marketing Manager