Jack Sim 370.
(photo credit: Idan Gross)
Leverage other people’s money and power to achieve your goals. That is the
message famed Singaporean social entrepreneur and World Toilet Organization
founder Jack Sim imparted to Israeli students this week.
the key lecture at an event on entrepreneurship hosted by the College of
Management Academic Studies’ (COMAS) School of Business Administration on
Sunday. He intends to view the students’ projects and assess whether some of
their ideas can be replicated outside of Israel.
“If you can use other
people’s money, other people’s power, other people’s distribution, other
people’s media, and other people’s influence and connections, and you align them
towards a common mission, then each of them will join the party willingly,” Sim
told The Jerusalem Post
. “You can orchestrate the movement if you understand
where the benefit is for each of them. The benefit [for each person] might be
different, but in the end everyone wins.” Most budding social entrepreneurs make
the mistake of viewing themselves as young and powerless, Sim said, adding that
in reality anybody can change the world just by connecting and leveraging the
Sim, who was born into poverty in pre-independence
Singapore in the 1950s, founded his first of many businesses at age 24. In the
1990s, by that stage a billionaire, he turned his attention to public toilets
after discovering that discussion of unsanitary conditions was taboo. He
established the Restroom Association of Singapore in 1998, the World Toilet
Organization (WTO) in 2001 and the World Toilet College in 2005.
the example of the WTO’s annual World Toilet Summit to explain his message, Sim
said: “Municipal governments are willing to host the event because it helps them
solve their own sanitation problems; the media are willing to cover the event
because it gives them something to publish; and companies are willing to sponsor
because the media coverage is strong.
“As you perpetuate this, it becomes
a powerful reality by bringing everyone together. And it helps to achieve
the [organizers’] end goal, which is that people get toilets and awareness
increases,” he added.
Sim said he was satisfied with the standard of
Israeli public toilets, but recommended that potential Israeli social
entrepreneurs look to the developing world for opportunities. He said Israeli
know-how could be devoted not only to improving the standard of sanitation in
poorer countries, but also to educating them about cell phone use or drip
irrigation, among other things.
Social entrepreneurship requires the same
skills as commercial entrepreneurship, but its rewards cannot be measured by
monetary value, Sim said.
“Social projects are not about yourself but
about the impact that your idea causes, and the satisfaction of a successful
idea is what the social entrepreneur is looking for.”
“Sometimes the social entrepreneur forgets about this because his ego gets in
the way. It’s my job to remind him to let it [his ego] go.”