SHEROES Bios: Geraldine J Tan, My Nonna's
SHEROES Bios is a collection of 12 selected stories taken from “ULTRAordinary SHEROES”, a collaborative project by The HEART Enterprise, Up Your Game Community, and Our Unique Stories to celebrate International Women’s Day 2019.
After 22 years in the corporate world, Geraldine left her career behind in 2014 to start My Nonna’s, a social enterprise that provides culinary training and employment to people with autism and intellectual disabilities. While it started with just one food stall, My Nonna’s has expanded and now operates a cafe and two school canteen stalls.
“I wanted to leave a legacy and make a difference in people’s lives,” she explains, and tells of a family friend who is intellectually disabled. “My friend struggled all her life to find a job. She stays at home and has regressed over the years.”
The story of her friend and the running of My Nonna’s made Geraldine realise that there is a segment of society who wanted to work but was not given the opportunity to. Her years of experience in management consulting told her that this was because the management of companies did not know how to employ them.
Within the next few years, Geraldine has plans to set up an academy that trains companies to hire people with special needs. She notes that an inclusive environment is not just training and hiring people with special needs, it is also about training and educating the direct supervisors and those in management.
Geraldine believes that just like everyone else, people with special needs want to live a meaningful life, and she hopes to create more businesses that will make this a reality. Her favourite quote “Live every moment, laugh every day, love beyond words” guides her on this journey. She adds, “If everyone were to do this, we’d have a much happier world.”
Geraldine’s story first appeared at the ULTRAordinary SHEROES event organised by The HEART Enterprise and DISTRii Singapore on 8 March 2019.