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Harnessing Social Capital for Change

Harnessing Social Capital for Change

Cynthia Lam is a millennial girlboss.  The 22-year-old spends her days at HKU as a third year medical student while moonlighting as a social entrepreneur, a human rights advocate and a productivity blogger.  Not only so, she was the recipient of the Chui’s Student Excellence Scheme under the category of Ho Wing Hing Talent Fund for her team’s entry towards the Hult Prize Regional Finals in Shanghai.  The team’s social innovation initiative, named “Pay it Forward”, won the second place in the prestigious event and received attention from prominent figures within the social entrepreneurship field.

The theme of Hult Prize 2018 is “harnessing the power of energy”.  Cynthia describes “Pay it Forward” as an initiative promoting altruism in the local community.  This platform allows people to exchange favours by sharing the residual energy on their daily commutes.  The concept of a sharing economy is to foster meaningful relationships and empower both benefactors and beneficiaries.  The mobile app aims to harness the goodwill of individuals, giving back to the community for others in need.  Developed in less than five months from ground zero, it is amazing how far the team has arrived.  Cynthia’s role in this project includes administration, project management and marketing.  She attributes most of her success to the precious mentoring and opportunities derived from the Hult Prize.  Following the regional finals, she was also nominated for overseas exposure to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Asia-Pacific Forum on Youth Leadership in August 2018.

As a start-up project, “Pay it Forward” is currently under maintenance for system updates.  The beta version was trialled at HKU’s Jockey Club Student Village III in February 2018.  Although Cynthia laughs that “many people said that your first (start-up) should be something to learn from”, the team is working tirelessly to make their ambitions a reality.  They would like to introduce a better reward system to the user interface with a vision for sustainability.  Through these added motivators to their product, the team hopes to be part of the positive change.  Whether it is at a local or international scale, “Pay it Forward” is on its way as a tool for an altruistic society.

Written by:
Teresa Chung
Year 2, Faculty of Social Sciences
November 2018

Harnessing Social Capital for Change