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Enhancing Social Capital: Community Investment and Inclusion Fund

In his 2001 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced a plan to set up the $300 million Community Investment and Inclusion Fund (CIIF) to encourage mutual concern and aid, promote community participation, and mobilise community resources through cross-sectoral collaboration that would contribute to building social capital and harmony.

Since its formal launch in August 2002, five batches of applications have been called, resulting in 69 projects being selected and funding of $60 million allocated, involving over 800 organisations, schools and small scale businesses. When fully implemented in three years, these projects will result in 17 380 people who were previously service recipients being empowered to become contributors and volunteers; 210 mutual help networks and 17 cooperatives being formed; 800 jobs being created; 3 500 jobs being matched; and over 300 000 people being helped.

Some of the new strategies were beginning to show results, with groups previously considered marginalised (such as the homeless, unemployed middle-aged people, disengaged youth, the elderly, newly arrived families, women and ethnic minorities) becoming more socially included and gainfully employed. The CIIF will be extended for three years from 2005 to consolidate its early success in promoting social capital concepts and helping to break the cycles of disadvantage, as noted in the 2004 Policy Address.

The overall impact, critical success factors and possible future development directions of the CIIF are being jointly evaluated by a consortium of seven research teams from five local tertiary institutions, with results expected in 2006. The CIIF has also received external recognition. For example, an Asian Development Bank representative who attended both of the CIIF annual sharing fora — was of the view that the CIIF provided social capital development know-how for the region.