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Rebekah Lin | Women of Power 2022

Rebekah Lin

Philanthropist

Rebekah Lin divides her day into half-hour blocks. Each segment is dedicated to a specific task. This planning method, called time blocking, keeps her focused and productive by highlighting priorities and minimising disruptive context switching.

Considering the scope of her work, the time management strategy makes good sense. “I realised that I was doing a lot of things but not doing any one of them well,” says the changemaker, who runs local think tank The Social Co., crowdfunding platform FundedHere and Jia Foundation. She also works on business development and investor relations at private equity firm Tembusu Partners. “Blocking my time better directs my headspace and offers some breathing space when I jump from one thing to another. I tend to be more creative as a person, so this keeps things fresh.”

Most of Rebekah’s undertakings have ties to her family. Tembusu Partners is chaired by her parents, the firm’s founder Andy Lim and former Cabinet minister Lim Hwee Hua. FundedHere, Singapore’s first Monetary Authority of Singapore-licensed equity- and lending-based crowdfunding ecosystem, is the brainchild of her brother, Daniel Lin. Jia Foundation, in essence, consolidates her family’s philanthropic efforts in causes such as the arts, mental health and the elderly.

Being born into an illustrious household may have afforded Rebekah a certain advantage, but the fast-talking next-gen leader is set on making her mark within and outside of the family’s businesses. She’s part of the all-star team driving Tembusu Partners’ Sustainable Future Fund, which pursues high-impact and commercially viable growth-stage opportunities across Asia that address the climate crisis and social inequalities. Since stepping into the role of CEO at FundedHere, Rebekah has also been pivotal in steering the company into the impact space.

Where she’s made the most waves is at The Social Co., a purpose-driven organisation she founded with long-time friend Cheryl Chong in 2014 to mobilise youths into social action. Their first movement, 50 for fifty – launched in conjunction with Singapore’s 50th birthday – rallied more than 80 individuals under the age of 35 to raise funds for lesser-known charities. In just three months, the campaign collected nearly $2.25 million that was matched equally by the government for a total of $4.5 million.

Her “starfish mentality” (the idea that each life you touch matters, even if it’s the only one) took shape in 2011 when she volunteered at Yellow Ribbon. From 2011 to 2017, she raised funds and sought out work opportunities for inmates of Changi Women’s Prison. “That’s also when I realised that a lot of issues are systemic – which I know I cannot change. So I started thinking about some of the small things I can do. The Social Co. is founded on the same premise. We focus on trying to solve the problem and not being the ones to solve the problem,” she elaborates.

Of all the causes she’s supported, Rebekah feels the most for matters surrounding the elderly and mental health. So serious is she on these topics that she pursued several specialised courses in the last few years. These include Introduction to Psychology from Yale University, Psychology First Aid from The John Hopkins University, Business Models for Innovative Care for Older People from Copenhagen Business School, and a Master’s degree in Gerontology from King’s College London.

“Mental health, ageing, end-of-life care, death and dying… These are what I call difficult conversations, and I think people are not having them enough,” she says. “I believe there’s a lot of growth opportunities in these areas.” In the last five years, she and her team at The Social Co. turned their attention to focus on seniors through four charities, namely Bethesda Care Services, Dementia Singapore, RSVP Singapore and Jamiyah Singapore. During the pandemic, for instance, they opened an online shop offering a variety of needs-based care bundles and gift packs for their beneficiaries.

Still, Rebekah hopes to do more. The plan, she reveals, is to launch her own impact fund that focuses on mental health, elderly care and death tech. “It will be the first of its kind in Asia, with a network of partners engaged in these spaces. Say, a fall-prevention start-up in Malaysia wants to expand and bring their product into hospitals in the Philippines. This ecosystem will bring about catalytic connections – investors with start-ups and/or suppliers with enterprise. The goal is to help a company that’s trying to make a positive change succeed in the fastest, most effective way. That said, it’s important that the ideas we fund are first and foremost commercially viable, otherwise their companies won’t be able to sustain social impact.”

As mental health, elderly care and death remain taboo subjects, Rebekah doesn’t want to just play matchmaker between start-ups and investors; she wishes to shift perspectives around these issues. “These causes are not seen as the most popular pathways to make money,” she explains. “Elderly care, for example, is still seen as charity or philanthropy. Seniors are often looked at as a deficit, how-do-we-help them point of view. But there is a silver economy. Everybody wants to be comfortable when living their old age. We all want accessible mental health care. And changing mindsets will spur innovation in these underserved areas.”

Rebekah wears the Hublot Big Bang Unico White Ceramic 42mm

Photography: Bryan Foong/BF Studio; Art Direction: Audrey Chan; Hair: Christvian Wu; Makeup: Keith Bryant Lee, using Chanel Beauty


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