Justine lives by the personal motto – “Find a need and meet it. Find a hurt and heal it”.Touched by the plight of needy children during a humanitarian trip to rural China three years ago, Justine, at the young age of 16 years, was inspired to start a social entrepreneurial business that provides shoes for needy children.
Undeterred by their financial limitations, Justine and his friends raised money by giving tuition in their spare time. The money raised enabled them to travel to Malaysia in search of footwear suppliers. Despite repeated rejections, he and his friends persevered, and finally convinced a supplier to support their cause.
This breakthrough enabled the founding of his company, Soule Apparels. With a vision to provide a “sole for every soul”, their concept of “Buy One, Give One” donates a pair of shoes to a needy child in China, for every pair of footwear sold.
Soule Apparels’ first collection sold out within a month of its launch, and by September 2010, the first batch of 309 pairs of school shoes were distributed to the needy children in Lincang, China. He remembered the beneficiaries being so touched by the effort that they were in tears when they received the shoes. The experience showed Justine that he, as a youth, had the power to make a difference in the lives of others, and fired him up to do more.
In 2010, Soule Apparels was presented the Singapore International Foundation Young Social Entrepreneurs’ Award. Justine went on to start the “Soule-dier Movement”, which aims to convert consumers into change-makers and customers into volunteers. This aim was achieved when he and his team brought his customers (students from his Polytechnic) to an orphanage in Malaysia to organise a football tournament for kids in an orphanage.
As the President of the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Student Entrepreneurship Club, Justine continues to inspire other youths to make a difference to the community by actively mentoring his peers in spearheading their own social entrepreneurship projects.
For his perseverance and relentless courage in venturing out to pursue his dreams for the benefit of the community, Justine Lee Fu De is conferred the Stars of SHINE 2011 Award.