Presently, there is greater awareness of social and environmental issues. Consumers’ today demand that companies should seriously consider their environmental and social “footprint.” Looking at the rise in enterprises, emerging companies need to be aware of the damage they might cause the environment and also impact socially. In addition to these factors, social entrepreneurs also need to break through the traditional barriers of funding needs as well as create greater visibility for the work they are doing.
To help organizations succeed in their goals, Yeone Fok established SparkRaise. SparkRaise works with purpose-led organizations, including social entrepreneurs and nonprofits, to raise funds through an online fundraising platform. It also brings like-minded people together through events via its SparknShare platform, and is launching a marketplace for conscious products focused on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals called SparknShop.
Yeone is looking forward to creating more opportunities for education and training that focuses on addressing the unique challenges of building a business for social good. She also is focused on creating increasing opportunities for visibility and exposure across a relevant and targeted audience.
Investment Banker Turned Social Entrepreneur
From a very young age, multiculturalism is something that has been deep-rooted in the heart of Yeone. She got early exposure to various cultures during her early years in Japan, the US, Beijing and Hong Kong. This exposure to different cultures, lifestyles and perspectives gave her a window into diversity as well as similarities in the world. “I was also struck by how the hopes and journeys of individuals differed based on circumstance and opportunity,” added Yeone.
Her initial career was started as an investment banker but she has had a zeal for social work. “I have always believed strongly in the power of a smile, compassion and lending a helping hand,” quotes Yeone. In 2015, she left banking and decided to focus on her passion for empowering social good. She turned her attention to creating a platform focused on supporting innovation and social good. This resulted in SparkRaise, an online fundraising and engagement platform that offers people of varying circumstances access to new opportunities for growth.
Assisting Organizations to Scale Their Impact
The differentiator amongst SparkRaise and its peers is the dedication to help purpose-led organizations scale their impact from the idea conception to adoption and beyond. The company provides a crowdfunding platform as well as offering additional tools dedicated to empowering people solving social challenges. It offers a unique social engagement platform called SparknShare that is connected to the crowdfunding platform, where creators and supporters can connect online, share updates, and also connect offline via the monthly Conscious Talk Series.
SparkRaise also offers an upcoming, new sustainable e-commerce platform for the conscious consumer, called SparknShop. SparknShop is an innovative online conscious market, where every product needs to contribute to one of the UN’s 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), as well as one of the impact categories of sustainable material, sustainable production process, responsibility, or a charitable contribution. It aims to empower consumers to vote with their wallets and find everyday products that are making positive steps to improve the world.
Inspired to Choose the Unconventional Path
“Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” – Amelia Earhart
Yeone is highly inspired by Amelia Earhart who was a pioneer in aviation, becoming the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Amelia’s journey from breaking the barriers of traditional expectations of homemaking and following her passion is truly inspirational. Her passion took her thousands of miles from home and traced an unconventional path that challenged women to dream bigger. Her independence, sense of adventure, the strength of purpose and persistence in the face of adversity has long been an inspiration for Yeone.
Completing the Vision Social Responsibility Prevails
As the founder of the company, Yeone has to handle the responsibility that ranges from strategic direction to aiming for the best customer service available on the planet. She introduced this platform with a vision to fulfill her idea of a world where social responsibility, inclusiveness, and collaboration prevails. Yeone wishes to expand the platform to create more opportunities for people to create, engage, and support social good.
Since its establishment, SparkRaise has worked with social enterprises, social entrepreneurs and nonprofits, and helped fundraise for projects as diverse as the first-ever crowdfunding campaigns to be integrated into course curriculum at university in Asia, a cork yoga mat, miniature 3D printing kit made of e-waste. Last year, the company began partnering directly with non-profits to make it easy for supporters to create individualized fundraising pages where funds go back directly to the nonprofits. This form of fundraising is fun and easy for individuals, groups or businesses to raise funds from their network in support of a range of causes such as the homeless, refugees, hearing impaired, animal welfare as well as an annual AIDS walk.
Words by the Leader
Listen, and then act. Act nimbly. Entrepreneurship is not easy and everyone you meet will have feedback or advice, often contradictory. The key is to embrace, and not to get confused or frustrated by, conflicting advice. Listen to and respect each comment, then form your own independent view. No matter what, always act with compassion and integrity.
Read Full Magazine Influential Women Leaders of 2020