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Supporting a mission for change
Helping smaller companies to do good. That's the aim of Brands For Good, a positive impact business recognition programme that fills a niche in the corporate social responsibility space (CSR) in Singapore and the region. The programme supports SMEs in their CSR efforts, not just through awarding their achievements, but also in capability development, strategic advisory and partnership.
In Singapore, just over half of companies or 52 per cent do some form of CSR, according to the 2017 Corporate Giving Survey by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). A further 31 per cent are keen to start.
Large corporations have typically been more visible with their CSR activities because they have more resources and manpower. But small companies can make a sizeable impact on society as well. Beyond immediate CSR activities such as volunteering or donations, SMEs can move up the value chain by rethinking their business strategy and aligning with sustainability goals.
And what better time than now – when green issues are all around us – to take action. Sustainability has become an increasingly important parameter for companies to consider.
It's compounded by the fact that public awareness of social enterprises is also growing, up from 13 per cent in 2010 to 65 per cent in 2016, based on a 2016 perception survey on social enterprises conducted by the Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy (ACSEP) and commissioned by the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE). The same survey showed that some 35 per cent of the public bought from social enterprises in 2016, compared with 22 per cent in 2010.
So it's no wonder some companies are supporting Brands For Good to help SMEs realise their sustainability goals. One of these is mobile virtual network operator Zero1, which is the event’s official technology partner. Its chief executive officer Stuart Tan signed up as a sponsor this year after becoming inspired by the Brands For Good founders at a presentation late last year.
He said: "I am a believer that with passion and motivation, miracles can happen. I echo their sentiment and like to support their vision and mission." He added that Zero1, which will continue working with Brands For Good into 2020 and possibly beyond, is taking this opportunity to show that "strategic CSR is not a cost but an asset".
"Over this period of partnership with Brands For Good, we have started looking at a programme to help a specific group of people with potential free telecommunication services. I think the value has come back to us in many ways – creating positive brand awareness, attracting partners of the same value and positively impacting our own people too."
Another Brands For Good sponsor is intellectual property solutions provider Questel. Its managing director Gilles Cruanès said: "We share the belief that business success is not just measured by revenue. Breakthrough innovation can also have a significant impact on the local community and environment. This is exactly the key objective of the Brands for Good awards: acknowledging key innovations that have both a local impact extended to other Asian countries."
That sentiment is shared by pewter manufacturer and retailer Royal Selangor, also a sponsor of Brands For Good. Its executive director Chen Tien Yue said: "(Brands For Good is) a forward-thinking initiative which recognises corporate efforts that have the power to make a positive social and environmental impact, thus improving the quality of life."
"The organisation offers a platform for businesses who share similar values to connect and is a valuable knowledge base for companies who want to introduce and improve on sustainability practices."
This ties in with Royal Selangor's sustainability plans, which include working closely with employees to identify sustainable initiatives, empowering them to carry out these initiatives to reduce energy usage and using sustainable materials whenever possible to reduce its carbon footprint. Said Mr Chen: "We are always looking for ways to incorporate sustainability in our business processes."