Social business can ‘disrupt’ markets

Posted on  14/08/2014  |  Media Centre


Leo Kasim

Thursday, August 14, 2014

SOCIAL businesses can potentially disrupt the market if they can manage to scale to a size large enough and gain the support of the local community.

Erin Schrode, co-founder of environmental advocacy group Teens Turning Green, said that social businesses have much to gain as they grow because it will also mean a larger and more influential reach which can result in stronger support from the public.

“As social businesses become bigger, their positive impact also gets larger and for a lot of people that is an exciting business to be supporting,” she told The Brunei Times following Asia Inc Forum’s 7th National Environment Conference at the Empire Hotel and Country Club.

According to her, social businesses such as wholefoods markets are putting pressure on large companies because the produce is seen to be more economically and ecologically feasible.

Schrode said it’s important for social businesses to stay profitable to sustain their presence and influence.

“Profit only becomes a dirty thing when it’s done at the expense of the others,” she said.

While the definition of social business may differ, she said that any business that champions a “social purpose” ahead of other things can be called a social business.

“The order should be people, planet, profit. This means that the business has to seriously consider environmental and social effects before working out the economics of it,” she said, adding that it also covers other aspects such as treatment of workers and commitment to corporate social responsibility.

In a separate interview at the event, the chief operating officer of a Singapore-based environmental consultancy company, said that social businesses can win in both areas of profitability and sustainability.

Vinod Kesava, who is also the executive director of the company, said that the country’s private sector should encourage the introduction of companies that carry a stronger focus towards the environment to align themselves with the country’s efforts for environment-friendly cities.

“You can start by having people producing their own things and sourcing local materials instead of importing from other countries,” he said.

He gave examples from Bali, Indonesia where farmers are now cultivating native long-grain rice back after previously using another strain of rice which required more chemical fertilisers.

“It’s an example story because the farmers now only use other insects and frogs to help keep away the pests and it achieves better results with less fertilizers so that is just one way how it can work,” he said.

The Brunei Times