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Conversation of Change with Masami Sato



“Imagine every time you had a cup of coffee, someone has access to life saving water; or every time someone reads a book, a tree gets planted. This is the world of B1G1.” said Masami Sato, co-founder of B1G1, a social enterprise in Singapore and Non-Profit Organisation in the US which lets you embed ‘giving’ directly into your business activities.


Her company, which is a global initiative, embodies what business philanthropy is all about.


“Business giving or social responsibility is really about businesses trying to imagine what kind of good they can create by doing what they’re doing.” she said.


“In this world today, the most important thing is that we realise we are in this together; and we are here in our own unique ways to collaborate with each other so we can create a really sustainable, fulfilling world together.”


THE DRIVING FORCE


The concept behind B1G1 stemmed from Masami’s experiences while backpacking overseas. She had seen a different picture. The “reality”, as she put it.


She had a firsthand look at how children were suffering around the world and realised that there were “real children not being able to go to school because they’re working or begging on the street; or people with physical disabilities not having any help and sleeping on the street. In my own country, in my own neighbourhood, if kids are not even able to go to school, surely somebody will help.”


“When I looked around in some of the countries I visited, these people didn’t have help. So, I thought, ‘Why?’” said Masami, thinking back on her journey. “But, at that time, I felt small. I didn’t have the answer.”


The driving force that pushed Masami forward was her love for her daughter.


“When I held my child for the first time, I experienced this most profound sense of love and connection. And I realised that I would do anything to protect my child and provide opportunities for her.


“But then, at the time I started to see the faces of other children, the children I saw when I was travelling; and I thought, ‘Maybe I should do something.’ Even though I cannot help everybody, I cannot change the world, but there are a lot of kids who don’t have parents like me. Even if I could do just a little more than taking care of my own family, I would do something.”


B1G1’S GROWING INFLUENCE


Her compassion fuelled her to begin a food business because she believed that the power of food could bring people together; and her company flourished. However, 5 years in, Masami had a realisation.


“Even though I worked so hard, I wasn’t achieving what I wanted to do, which was to feed and educate the street kids I saw … We were putting all our money back into the business to grow, but then I thought, if I continued that way in 10 or 20 years time, I would still be doing the same thing.


“The idea of Buy1GIVE1 came to us, ‘What if, instead of trying to do something big in the future, we just gave one meal for every meal we sold?’ That’s what we did and that transformed everything.”


She grew that thought, believing that any business could do the same.


B1G1’s MOVEMENT




Join more than 2500+ businesses around the world on a mission to create a world full of giving. It’s not just a membership; it’s your commitment to becoming a Business for Good B1G1


Their call to action for companies to do good has had success in changing the minds of many. The point wasn’t to give the most but to work at an ‘accumulated impact of habitual giving’.



Since they started in 2007, the collective impact created by B1G1’s business community has reached over 220 million giving impacts.


For example, every time someone buys your product, you can choose to plant 5 trees to support reforestation in Borneo; or every time you send an email, you can give a day’s access to clean drinking water to families in Cambodia; or every time you meet a new client, you can provide 10 days access to e-learning education to children in India.


Her platform allows organisations to search for and give to projects they care about. Each is broken down into quantifiable ‘micro-impacts’ so everyone can see how much difference they’ve made ‘from as little as 1 cent’.


“For those of us who run social enterprises, we do not see the act of starting our venture as a great deal of courage. Instead, what we do see is the need to make a difference right now.” explained Masami.


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