Chinese Startups Social Welfare Program:
What is Yiqiao? An overview of the company:
Yiqiao is a pioneering social innovation institution. It is a type of fellowship program paired with a ‘think tank’ in public service, aimed at tracking down top young talents for the social sector, and pairing them with public service agencies in different fields.
- Purpose: Yiqiao aims to bridge between young talents and top players in the Chinese public service industry. It is committed to finding innovative solutions to social problems, as well as stimulating society’s understanding of public service.
- Method: Take great people, give them training, mentorship, funding, a supportive community, and other resources as they are placed in strategic roles within the social sector for a year.
- Goals: Establish social impact, build mutual support in the industry, and create leaders for the social sector community.
- Targets: Recent grads or experienced professionals who have several years of work experience.
Yiqiao Future Public Welfare Leaders Training Program:
As the program prepares to launch its 2nd cohort, the following is data about the program as it stands:
- 1 Year Fellowships: This length of time was chosen as it reflects a commitment period that is reasonable while not being a limited-engagement internship.
- Process: After being selected by Yiqiao, fellows get a list of NGOs that they could work with.
- High standard of selection for both organizations and fellows:
-Focus on NGOs that are on the path towards acceleration, but might need an extra push to reach the next level.
-Focus on projects positioned to connect sectors and do innovative social work.
-Looking for those who can become leaders in the social sector.
-Looking for those who can adapt to changing environments, influence others, be innovative, have a sense of social responsibility.
- Project Matching: High standard of placement and matching fellows to maximize their talent.
1st Cohort: The first cohort is already halfway into the program.
- 200 fellow applicants, 10 fellows selected.
- From the first 10, most are young professionals. They include 3 Bain alumnus, a former head of CSR at Shangri-La, 1 Yenching Scholar, etc…
- Still in experimental stage.
2nd Cohort: The second cohort will launch in the coming months.
- 90 Organizations (startups/NGOs etc…) applied this year, 20-30 selected as partners.
- Each NGO has their own needs and projects that they are working on that selected fellows will join (ex: An NGO could send a fellow to a rural area for a social entrepreneurship project).
Other Yiqiao Branches:
What else does Yiqiao offer its fellows?
-Training: Yiqiao is not only a pairing agency, but also an academy for social leaders.
- Offers an intensive two-week training summer institute that will continue to provide career development training throughout the project.
- Leaders from NGOs give a crash course, share their personal stories of how they became influential figures in their sectors and organizations.
- Members will visit each other’s institutions to facilitate cross-regional and cross-sector exchange and learning.
- Full year of development programming, online and offline (on a monthly basis).
—Gu Rui, 1st Cohort Member Testimonial
How has Yiqiao thus far recruited its initial cohorts/associated organizations?
The first batch of fellows and public welfare agencies were arranged through:
- Partnerships with well-reputed NGOs
- Foundations such as the China Gates-Foundation provided initial seed funding
- WeChat article sharing amassed roughly 20K views and yielded around 200 applications for 1st batch
- Crowdfunding provided about 1/3 of funding
Core Financial Aspects:
- Based on grants & investments from large foundations
- Yiqiao is willing to fund good organizations that can provide their own NGO training
Potential Yiqiao Business Models:
- “Scale Driven”
- Focus on finding good young professionals (fresh university grads lack practical experience)
- Program directs primary efforts to matching people with the right causes/work
- “Star Driven”
- Create role models and leaders (who may go on to non-NGO careers) in smaller cohorts
- Program becomes experiential learning platform that helps cultivates social responsibility capacity
- “Curriculum Approach”
- Develop a curriculum that can be taught to university students
- Provide internships and develop other short-term programs that could transition into full-time
Premise: About China’s Emerging Social Sector (公益):
(Beyond the Government)
Why is Yiqiao a necessary social enterprise?
Although China plans to widen market access for medical care, education, elderly care, culture, sports and other social undertakings, there are still many challenges this sector needs to overcome.
China’s Social Sector Lacks:
- General resources- Low salaries and little professional development or guidance regarding how to develop a career
- Professional systems
- Top talent (best people don’t consider it a viable path or serious full-time career path)
- Public understanding of social welfare
Common Misconceptions about the Social Sector:
- It is for only really rich people or celebrities who can use it to advance prestige and social status
- Simple donations such as donating clothes are more beneficial over “social innovations”
- Very “low” esteem, considered a backup option in case all else fails, generally not seen or valued as a successful career by parents and peers
- Not sustainable, underperforming, inefficient, no measurement of impact
- Huge gap between private and public sector = No interactions, no dialogue.
- Private: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is usually done for PR purposes
- Public: NGOs don’t know how to interact with those who have resources
- “Limited” Path and choices (study abroad options, more “prestigious” jobs available domestically)
- Many young people have a limited sense of social responsibility, are very utilitarian
- Those with a strong sense of social responsibility won’t take the leap because it’s too risky
Meet the team!
Steven Wang (王赛): Steven Wang is the founder and CEO of Yiqiao. He served as part of the founding staff of the Yenching Academy at Peking University. Steven completed a Master of Public Policy degree at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship and previously served as a Program Manager at Teach for China based in Yunnan. Steven has studied international relations in Toronto, Paris, and Jerusalem. He has also worked on development projects in East Africa and legal aid programs for migrant workers in Beijing.
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