Last October 29, we held Aidha’s biggest annual event at the Nexus Auditorium – Cuppage Plaza, Aidha’s 11th Graduation Ceremony. We had a total of 110 graduates this year! The guests of honour, sponsors, mentors, employers as well as families and friends of the graduates were welcomed by our master of ceremonies, Ms. Ting Claravall, who has been an Aidha mentor herself since 2009.
Written by: Chelot Belan
Guests excitedly going into the auditorium to check out the graduates
As the graduates settled in their seats, Aidha thanked the organisations, institutions and individuals who have been instrumental in Aidha’s success: Benefit Cosmetics, BNY Mellon, Deutsche Bank, Experian, Facebook, Google, Mastercard, the Ministry of Manpower, PayPal, and especially the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, for generously sponsoring the graduation ceremony including the prizes for the Business Plan Awards.
Aidha’s Guest of Honours and VIPs pictured here
The guests of honour: Ms. Macy Monique Maglanque, Labor Attaché 1, Embassy of the Philippines in Singapore; Mr. Yulinar Rudy Purnadi, Third Secretary, Citizen Service Department, the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Singapore; his Excellency Mr. Nimal Weeraratne, High Commissioner, Sri Lanka High Commission in Singapore; Ms. Elissa Maloney, Acting Executive Director of AustCham; and Ms. Sari Marsden, Co-Author FIT TO LEAD, Co-Founder Sarius Performance International, Performance Coach, Nike+ Training Club Trainer, Aidha Volunteer.
Ms Jacqueline Loh, Aidha’s CEO addressing her welcome speech
Ms. Jacqueline Loh, Aidha’s CEO, gave her welcome address where she thanked everyone who had helped Aidha achieve another successful year, and congratulated the graduates who showed the passion and energy to make the big decision to enrol at Aidha, and had successfully completed 18 months of classes. She said she was proud of them for following through and mustering the passion and energy to complete a business plan, adding, “Today we celebrate your courage, perseverance and success in taking concrete steps towards achieving a brighter future for yourselves and your families.”
“While today marks the successful end of one part of your journey, truly it is also the start of another. Your individual journeys are all unique. You each know the challenges you have had to overcome to get here, and you all have different journeys ahead of you. But let us enjoy today’s celebration of your wonderful achievement,’ she continued.
An inspiring keynote speech by Ms. Sari Marsden, then followed. Sari who coached our Aidha ‘Fabulous Fighters’ dance team to the finals of the FDW Day talent competition said, “I’m very proud of our graduates. They’ve transformed as they gained new visions for themselves; from seeing a world of limitations to seeing the world of possibilities.” She also thanked the employers, “As you support your helpers, you help change not just one person, but entire villages and communities.”
Beautiful Indian classical dance performed by Wiji Suyitno
The auditorium then witnessed an amazing performance of the ancient Indian classical dance, the Odissi (Megh Pallavi), by one of the graduates who were also among the finalists for the Top 12 Business Plan Competition, Wiji Suyitno. It was followed by a showcase of pictures of the graduating students depicting all the wonderful events we had on campus over the past year. The students cheered as they saw their group photos pop one by one on screen!
Then it came to one of the main highlights of the event, the presentation of the top four business plans for the year. Writing a Business Plan is the final requirement for an Aidha student to qualify for their Certificate of Completion, and every year three of the best are chosen to receive top honours. This year was exceptional as four students were selected! The business plans were scored on parameters of innovation, market research, branding, physical and financial controls, budgeting and planning, and pricing and promotion. Out of 120 business plans from the entire batch, 30 plans were chosen, then 12 finalists were shortlisted to present their business plans to a panel of judges representing Aidha’s corporate partners: Clair Deevy of Facebook; Georgette Tan of MasterCard; Holly O’Keeffe of Experian Asia Pacific; Hwee Choo Quek of BNY Mellon; and Yvonne Chan of Aidha. The top 12 finalists were asked to stand as their names were called, and the top four presented their winning business plans on stage.
Arcelyn Siloy presented the future plans of her ice business in Phillipines
Arcelyn Siloy shared her plans of expanding her grandmother’s ice business. The 27 year old, mother of two from the Philippines said she trained as a caregiver here in Singapore and volunteered at the Mental Health institute before her employer asked her if she wanted to join Aidha. And she said “yes” as she aspired to follow bigger dreams and ultimately return home to spend more time with her family.
A great presentation by Nur Khsasanah of how her determination can beat all odds!
Then, an emotional presentation from Nur Khasanah followed. From Central Java, Indonesia, Nur not only shared her plans of setting up Lazato Pizza but also talked about how her Aidha experience has helped her regain the confidence she lost after her bike accident right after graduating from high school.
Maricel shared an innovative transportation business idea to the audience
Next was the innovative Maricel Alvarado from Southern Mindanao, Philippines who plans to set up a transportation business so she can provide safer and more comfortable journeys to people from her hometown.
And finally, Armi Sampani went on stage and lit up the auditorium with passion, as she spoke about her struggles growing up and how she wanted to help her community by supporting local farmers with the ice cream business which she wanted to set up in the next couple of years.
The top four “Best Business Plan 2017” awards were presented by Ms. Elissa Maloney, Acting Executive Director of Australian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore and Ms. Jacqueline Loh, Aidha’s CEO, as follows:
1st Place: Armi Sampani
1st Runner-up: Arcelyn Siloy
Joint 2nd Runner-up: Maricel Alvarado and Nur Khasanah
A truly confident and strong presentation by the Business Plan Competition winner, Armi Sampani!
Armi said, “I didn’t expect to win. But I was proud to have come up with a full business plan. I’m very thankful to my teachers. They are really great!” She also thanked her employers: Kimberly Latham and Jeff Bullwinkel for the support they have given her throughout her tenure with them. She shared, “Every employer has a contribution with our improvement and my employers were always very supportive of me doing this and even other side projects I explored before. “When asked about how she felt about Armi’s win, Ms. Latham said, “I knew she would really do great. Armi is incredibly hardworking, and she excels in everything she puts her mind to. She always has the drive to make everything awesome. She enhances things, and we’re glad that with Aidha she was able to find her passion and focus on it.”
Module 2 mentors were then thanked for giving students their free Sundays, introducing them to business concepts, inspiring them to think about their better futures, helping them set up their business plans, and coaching them on improving their communication skills. Special recognition was also given to the amazing group of trainees (past graduates of Aidha) who now mentor new Aidha students and train them to work in our offices. All the graduates took to the stage, to receive their certificates.
Great support from the embassies in Singapore! Pictured here, Mr Yulinur Rudy from the Embassy of
The Republic of Indonesia in Singapore.
The following guests of honours joined Ms. Jacqueline Loh in presenting the certificates to the graduates on stage: Ms. Macy Monique Maglanque, Labor Attaché 1, Republic of the Philippines to Singapore; Mr. Yulinar Rudy Purnadi, Third Secretary, Citizen Service Department, the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Singapore; his Excellency Mr. Nimal Weeraratne, High Commissioner, Sri Lanka High Commission in Singapore.
Strong and confident women of Aidha!
Everyone was then invited to have tea and snacks in the foyer. And the graduates were invited to have their photos taken at a special photo booth set up in the lobby. Unexpectedly the class of 2017 gave a surprise performance danced to Rachel Platten’s Fight Song. This special number was choreographed by Ms. Sari Marsden (Keynote Speaker and Aidha volunteer) reflected the graduates’ passion and energy to endure hardships and their sacrifices to build a better life for themselves, their families and their communities. It was a great way to conclude a truly inspiring event!