Saltsteps : SALTSTEPS: Help fund Singapore's FIRST Social Supermarket

Singapore , SingaporeSingapore , Singapore
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Saltsteps is a social enterprise operating on the social supermarket model that works closely with and assists low-income families in Singapore. We receive donations of surplus or unwanted goods from suppliers and sell them to low-income families in Singapore at 50% - 70% off market prices.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if there was a more sustainable way to tackle the issue of food security in Singapore?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There are many low-income families in Singapore who need help with food expenditure and more often than not, the support that they receive comes in the form of a one-off donation or monthly food rations that don't last very long, highlighting a lack in sustainability.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

This is where Saltsteps comes in. Saltsteps is able to provide a ready avenue for them to secure the basic household necessities that they need, whether rice,canned food or baby diapers, at an affordable rate (50% - 70% off market prices). This in turn allows them to maximise whatever limited disposable income that they have. These individuals and families won't always be left wondering when they'll be receiving food rations, decreasing their dependence on welfare benefits, increasing their sense of independence and in time, breakout of poverty.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

If low-income families in Singapore choose to use our services, they may be able to purchase 5 items with $10 instead of 3 items if they were to shop at a regular supermarket. While we aren't fully operational, yet, we intend to operate on a call-and-delivery system whereby clients can call us, place their oder and have their orders delivered to them. These deliveries will be done weekly which basically means that these low-income families have a more steady and secure avenue to obtain their basic household necessities as compared to welfare benefits, which are subject to half-yearly or quarterly reviews.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We're not fully operational yet hence we aren't able to provide any information with regards to the impact that we've had to date. However, we can say that more and more people are becoming increasingly aware of Saltsteps and the work that we do, evident with the support that we've seen on our Facebook/StartSomeGood crowdfunding page and the different ones that have been reaching out to us who wish to help us out in one way or another. Such support will definitely do so much for Saltsteps when we do start operating on a full-scale.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

For a start, we intend to focus on 3 target neighbourhoods in Singapore, Lengkok Bahru, Henderson and Bukit Ho Swee, which have blocks of 1-room/2-room rental flats that are under the Public Rental Scheme (total household gross income must not exceed $1,500/month). As our operations grow, we do intend to expand our delivery network to more neighbourhoods in Singapore, to ensure that we reach as many low-income families as possible. We also intend to provide subsidiary services like resume-writing training and employment opportunities to ensure that our services are more holistic.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We've started a crowdfunding campaign on StartSomeGood to raise funds for the business. The funds raised will help us kick-start operations at full-speed, and from there, we will ensure that whatever profits made are pumped back into ensuring the sustainability of our operations.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Other organisations that are helping to address the same problem include, The Food Bank, however there is one main difference in their approach in that they provide food at no charge. The Food Bank acts as a redistribution hub of sorts for the food that goes to waste in Singapore, ensuring that the all these resources are redistributed to VWOs, who in turn, distribute the resources to their clients.

Founding Story

Our co-founder and manager, Desiree, was on her internship at voluntary welfare organisation Beyond Social Services, when she discovered that she wanted to make a difference in the lives of low-income families in Singapore. A particular instance that left a deep impact on her was when she heard colleagues talking about a mother who mixed condensed milk with water to feed her baby because she could not afford formula milk. Desiree didn't quite know where to start so she turned to google - naturally - and searched up 'ideas for social enterprises' and chanced upon the concept of social supermarkets. This led to that and she founded Saltsteps with her father, Roland, in September this year.


Saltsteps is made up of a two-man (father-daughter) team. Saltsteps was founded by Roland Yeo and his daughter, Desiree Yang, who is the co-foundera and manager of the social enterprise.
About You
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About Your Project
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How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, Singapore

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Singapore

Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Friends and family.

Awards: What awards or honors has the project received?

Saltsteps was featured on the front page of The Straits Times as part of Causes Week 2014 (read the full article here: Saltsteps was also on the local radio station HOTFM91.3 for a radio interview with Jill.

Where have you learnt about the competition?

Supriya Mukherjee, Ashoka Changemakers Network Coordinator for Asia emailed my co-founder, Desiree Yang personally.

Tell us about your partnerships:

Saltsteps is currently working with two corporate partners. The first is S J Low Bros & Co Pte Ltd and they supply Saltsteps with canned food products. The second is Disposable Soft Goods (S) Pte Ltd and they supply Saltsteps with baby diapers.

Saltsteps is also working closely with Beyond Social Services, a VWO in Singapore. Beyond helps Saltsteps to maintain communication channels between us and the low-income families.

Challenges: What challenges might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Suppliers might not be able to donate their residual or surplus goods at no cost because its incongruence with their company policy, thus affecting our stock supply and operations as well. We intend to overcome this by securing capital to buy stock via means like crowdfunding and in turn, work out an arrangement with various suppliers where we buy off the goods from them at half-price of the usual selling price or at cost price.