SMU Team’s mobile app solution to create eco-system for the elderly bags top prize in social impact competition

Impact Through Inspiration (ITI) is an annual competition organised by Nanyang Technological University (NTU)’s Welfare Services Club Growth & Opportunities to provide youths with a platform to create meaningful social impact in the community.

In Summer 2021, the NTU club organised Impact Through Inspiration E-Ideathon 2021 @ North West, where youths were invited to propose innovative ideas to tackle issues which may be experienced by the elderly like social isolation, financial insecurity and loneliness. Submissions were required to provide solutions to help the elderly cope with these challenges in the COVID “new normal”.

The five member team from SMU, “Team Social Angels”, comprised of undergraduates from different schools. They include Joelle Soe Kai Xin (team leader), Year 4, Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB); Gabrielle Allison Maswi, Year 3, School of Accountancy and School of Social Sciences (SOSS); ,Slevin Chua, Year 3, Yong Pung How School of Law; and LKCSB; Vanessa Yeo, Year 3, SOSS; and Celestine Loh, Year 3, SOSS.

Over six weeks, Team Social Angels competed against 19 teams consisting of participants from various universities and tertiary institutions. Participants also engaged in fringe activities and workshops to learn more about challenges which may affect the elderly. These included a Fireside Chat with Alzheimer’s Disease Association, a Virtual Ageing Simulation Programme and Makan with Seniors (an initiative that brings together youths with seniors over a meal). Through these activities, the team gained valuable insights to help them better understand the elderly, and in turn helped them in brainstorming of ideas.

The team conquered three gruelling rounds of competition, with the first involving a write-up of the their solution, a video presentation at the second stage, before pitching their idea to a panel of esteemed judges from Singapore Pools, North West Community Development Council, RSVP Singapore, RSM Singapore and NTU Student Affairs Office at the Finals on 19 June 2021.

Their idea “The Bonsai Project” is a mobile platform solution that seeks to connect the community to eldercare volunteering opportunities, through location services, to create kampungs in every heartland. Through the app, Bonsai will match suitable volunteers to the optimal opportunity and create a social ecosystem, connecting the community, eldercare NGOs with the elderly.

The judging panel was impressed with the team’s strong analysis, sustainable and creative solution and fluent delivery. Team Social Angels was crowned the overall Champion and awarded $700 in cash and funding of up to $10,000 to execute the idea.

Reflecting on the process, team leader Joelle said, “Ever since COVID restrictions started, the elderly has been affected hardest. Our team is fortunate to have our grandparents staying with us, hence we greatly empathised with the situation of the elderly. Despite our busy schedule with internships, our passion and love for our elders pushed us through ideating into many late nights.”