With how the world is, we sometimes ask if social enterprises do really create a positive impact? Or do they have any impact at all?
We all know that nonprofits and ‘well-meaning’ government bodies are just not enough to fix the issues in our world. In most companies, the social action they are a part of is through corporate social responsibility (CSR). But those are more of a side venture.
What many don’t know is how there are social enterprises focused more on being forces for good than what we assume.
It’s not simply lip service with certain companies, they are truly brands that advocate social responsibility.
It takes commitment to truly take a social stand in the world. The ones who you can guarantee are walking the talk are those classified under Business Corporations.
Today, the B-Corps are a pioneering movement for organisations to stake claim as socially responsible businesses. When they pass the rigorous testing, it means these companies meet the highest and best standards of verified social and environmental performance.
There are over 3,500 businesses certified across the globe and there are B-Corps in our own backyard. In fact, we have one of the largest numbers in Asia - some by international companies but others started in Singapore.
“For B-Corporations [and] social businesses it’s much more that the social mission, social impact focus is in the core [values] of the company.” expressed Christopher Marquis, professor at SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University and author of Better Business, during his interview with MTC during our podcast, Conversation of Change.
How many of these companies do you know?
MAKE THE CHANGE
Make The Change (MTC) is a social enterprise that focuses on integrating their creative agency (with design, marketing, advertising) to aid in their continuous endeavours in community programmes.
MTC Give Back has offered pro-bono creative services to agencies like Club Rainbow (Singapore), Silver Ribbon, YWCA Singapore and Bright Vision Hospital.
On top of that, a major focus of MTC is educating people on the varying uses of iPads, such as
In media literacy and digital art in primary and secondary schools;
In content writing, communication design and marketing with persons with disabilities PWDs; and
In social entrepreneurship, digital art and thinking and social media for good to the public
MTC’s social initiative was even highlighted by Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran, saying that “The work of strengthening digital literacy in Singapore is an ongoing effort and we want to catalyse more ground-up initiatives.”
Thanks to all the concerted effort, MTC is now B-Corp certified and continues to ensure that their belief and purpose will be what guides them moving forward.
They gave individuals in Cambodia a change to learn and develop handicrafts; a chance for student-initiated projects such as Xscape (raising awareness for the visually handicapped), Sondering Slate (conducting a digital art class for children from Beyond Social Services) and #YOLO2020 (raising awareness about mental wellness).
Pretty obvious why they have such a high B Impact Score, no?
Vision Strategy Storytelling (a.k.a. VS Story) is a media company which helps brands get more visibility through innovative video, virtual reality, photography and social media campaigns. They have been rated as a service with a minor environmental footprint and certified as a B-Corps since Jan 2018.
“I have always been driven to stand for a higher purpose, not take anything for granted and work hard to create a lasting impact.” said Jacqui Hocking, CEO and Storyteller at VS Story. “My personal objective is to get more people inspired to do the free B Impact assessment and start thinking about things beyond profit for their startups.”
During her Conversation of Change podcast, Jacqui continued to say, “It’s the B-Corps spirit [we share]. All the B-Corps around the world have more or less aligned towards being carbon-neutral.” which is achieving a zero carbon footprint by ‘balancing’ any carbon emissions any organisation (or individual) produces through investing in environmental projects around the world.
Genashtim is a digital solutions provider. In 2015, it became the 2nd company in the whole of Southeast Asia to be a B-Corps, named ‘Best for the World’ every year since.
Their CEO Thomas Ng has an inclusive business model has provided employment for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), LGBTQ, HIV-infected, women in oppressed environments and elderly individuals remotely from anywhere in the world.
During his Conversation of Change podcast, Thomas described how "When you are up-close with people and you understand how how they struggle ... To see them excel and see them happy, see them make something out of their lives, I think it’s certainly very rewarding.”
There are so many of us who are serious coffee enthusiasts or simply caffeine addicts, but would we take the step further - to be like the founder of Bettr Barista, using her passion to create a social enterprise?
“The financial crisis of 2008 ...eventually led me to my second and current social business,” says Pamela Chng, founder of Bettr Barista, in an interview with The Asian Entrepreneur. “[by] using coffee as a vehicle to change lives.”
Bettr Barista is Singapore's first certified B-Corp, four years after they began their journey. They operate a coffee academy and a roastery.
“At the heart of [the] business is a social programme that arms disadvantaged women and at-risk youth with vocational and life skills that pave the way for long-term careers in the specialty coffee industry.” continues Chng.
MullenLowe Salt is part of one of the world’s most iconic brands in strategic communications, which is simply the Public Relations arm of Mullenlowe Group. They have offices in the UK and Singapore and have been a B-Corp since 2015. With this certification they wanted to demonstrate their commitment to making a positive impact.
To their co-founder and B-Corp Ambassador Andy Last, “Being a B Corp sets us apart. Hopefully one day it won’t, but for now it helps differentiate us from competitors jumping on the purpose marketing bandwagon.”