In addition to being a personal responsibility, embracing ethical sustainability is a smart business move too
In partnership with INCEIF
Biodegradable packaging, renewable energy and charitable partnerships are just some of the initiatives brands are adopting as more customers demand environmental and social responsibility for a more sustainable future.
But more than a way to appease socially responsible consumers, investing in such initiatives can be a smart move that allows companies to boost sales while protecting the planet and its people. Evidence of this is Nielsen’s 2015 Global Corporate Sustainability Report, which showed that 69% of Malaysian consumers are willing to pay a premium for products that come from ethical brands.
Even social enterprises can remain monetarily and morally sustainable with the right business know-how. Here are five brands in Malaysia that have turned socially-conscious business practices into good business, inspiring entrepreneurs that it’s as possible as it is necessary.
Industrial dyes, often mass-produced for fast fashion companies, are a known environmental hazard. Not only are they highly toxic and, in some cases, carcinogenic, they also end up creating wastewater that destroys marine life. To combat these environmental effects, entrepreneur Munir Osman started Muni, a Malaysian slow-fashion label that uses natural dyes made from tree bark and fruit skin.
Launched in October 2017, Muni boasts a catalogue of minimalist apparel and accessories, including its best-selling knot bags and waterproof canvas tote bags coated with beeswax. Each garment is handwoven, hand-dyed and air-dried in a studio the founder built out of reclaimed wood. Soapnuts are used as cleaning agents to ensure the entire process is organic and eco-friendly.
2. Yellow House
Yellow House is a non-profit enterprise run by Shyam Priah which organises voluntourism programmes, where travellers get to immerse themselves into the local culture by volunteering at animal shelters and Rohingya refugee schools in Malaysia. It also employs homeless individuals and trains them to conduct one-of-a-kind walking tours – known as Unseen Tours – around Kuala Lumpur. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Yellow House has refocused and turned to raising funds to distribute food to households that are financially affected by Covid-19.
Founded in 2005 by biologist and environmentalist Yasmin Rasyid, EcoKnights is a non-profit organisation that collaborates with various brands to develop sustainable initiatives. In 2019 alone, this Malaysia-based social enterprise has cleaned three polluted rivers, planted 510 trees and collected about 10 tonnes of waste. EcoKnights has also launched online programmes such as KLEFFlix, the first online streaming service in Malaysia that spotlights films about sustainability and environmental issues.
4. The Hive
Established in 2015 by Claire Sancelot, who received a United Nations award for her work in sustainability, The Hive is a zero-waste store based in Kuala Lumpur that sells organic food in bulk. Besides protecting the environment by eliminating the use of packaging, The Hive also sources its food products (such as rice, beans, nuts, dried fruits and tea) from local farms and collaborates with ethical, local businesses to sell natural soaps, metal straws and other lifestyle goods. The brand has even launched a corporate consultancy arm to help other companies go green.
5. Ethis Ventures
Another Malaysia-based company, Ethis Ventures is an ethical crowdfunding platform that marries social responsibility with profit-making. With offices in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Dubai, it specialises in raising funds for charitable projects and social enterprises, collaborating with major corporations who have committed to match public donations.
Set up in 2017, the relatively young company is the brainchild of EthisCrowd, an Islamic property investment firm. Among the campaigns it has successfully funded include a housing development project for lower-income families in Indonesia and an initiative to sponsor heart surgeries for children in Malaysia.
Want to be a social entrepreneur too? Good education is key
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur with a passion for social enterprises, consider an MBA in Sustainable Business from INCEIF (The Global University of Islamic Finance) to build a foundation of practical skills and values for effective eco-innovation.
Developed and fine-tuned by industry veterans, this newly unveiled MBA equips students with knowledge in business management, marketing, data analytics, Islamic finance and sustainability in management and investment. Students are primed to create business solutions that champion the values of inclusivity and integrity as well, learning how to be profitable while making a social impact.
Seeking to create the next generation of socially-conscious leaders, the inaugural course includes action-based learning, where students get exposure to working on real-world projects with companies like EcoKnights, Ethis Ventures and QSR Brands. Students can also choose between a full-time course, which takes about two years to complete, or a three-year, part-time course.
To find out more about INCEIF’s newly launched MBA in Sustainable Business programme, click here.