Social enterprises are constantly seeking to provide benefits to society and also the environment. Their main purpose is to bring about societal change and create awareness of how lives could be transformed through sustainable activities. In this issue, Top 10 of Malaysia shares its list of the social enterprises (listed in no particular order) that have played a great part in saving the environment and also creating a huge change in the lives of the underprivileged. These enterprises have provided training and opportunities for marginalised communities, people with disabilities and the B40 communities to enable them to earn a decent living while some have contributed greatly by organising activities and collaborating with others to save the environment.
Founded by Sasibai Kimis, Earth Heir is a social enterprise that is the first in Malaysia to be fair trade certified by the World Fair Trade Organisation. Earth Heir appreciates the works of craftspeople and is dedicated to preserving heritage art forms by harnessing the skills and traditions of craftspeople. The company collaborates with artisans on designing products and procuring raw materials. It also purchases artworks from artisans, cooperatives or makers at fair prices and provides quality control. The products are sold by way of business-to-consumer or business-to-business. Earth Heir also provides advisory services to develop artisans in the area of design, production, branding and marketing. The social enterprise has earned thousands of ringgit worth of income for its artisans and has trained over 50 new artisans in the area of product design, pricing, costing and production.
Biji-Biji Initiatives was founded in 2013 by Rashvin Pal Singh, Juliana Adam, Gurpreet Singh Dhillon and Ambika Sangaran. The impact-driven social enterprise aims to educate changemakers through its social and environmental impact accelerator programmes, by enabling access to education and innovative solutions through its platform to live a more sustainable life. Biji-biji works with a large network of non-profit organisations, social enterprises, student or youth groups, associations, for-profit organisations and corporations and acts as the grassroot for impactful projects. Biji-biji thrives to inspire businesses and individuals to think and act sustainably. The social enterprise has gathered 22,717kg of plastic waste and converted it into products through its Beyond Bins programme.
Led and founded by Dr Yasmin Rasyid, EcoKnights is a non-profit environmental organisation established in 2005. The organisation collaborates with key stakeholders to drive and empower long-term strategic actions to advance sustainability adoption, implementation and advocacy. Its primary focus areas are youth-based sustainability capacity-building programs, strategic community engagement and sustainability or environmental education, innovative and strategic partnerships with corporate and government agencies in driving sustainability actions, sustainability communications, and policy advocacy, as well as youth development programmes focusing on “Public Outreach”, “Rehabilitation, Restoration and Conservation”, “Youth Development and Volunteerism”, and “Sustainability Communications”. EcoKnights develops, plans, implements and takes action in driving long-term solutions and interventions to build a low-carbon and sustainable future for Malaysians. Its programmes have benefitted thousands of people.
Founded by Kuhan Pathy, Pepper Labs is an accredited Malaysian social enterprise that drives social transformation through sustainable economic empowerment and inclusive growth. The company is known for its subsidiaries, Masala Wheels, an F&B social brand that provides capacity building and employment for marginalised communities in the form of culinary training and F&B management; Mobilefood.my, a commission-free digital social innovation platform that connects customers directly to B40 communities and microentrepreneurs in Malaysia for sustainable economic empowerment, and Pulse Academy, an academy that provides hands-on training in capacity building and entrepreneurial skills in partnership with corporate, educational, and government institutions. Pepper Labs has touched over 500 lives.
Batik Boutique is an award-winning social enterprise that was founded by Amy Blair. It empowers artisans from marginalised communities to produce fair fashion, home goods and accessories made from a traditional fabric called batik. The social enterprise works with rural and urban batik artisans across Malaysia to create batik textiles on natural fibres. The fabrics are then sent to the seamstresses at its training centre to create products in beautiful designs. Batik Boutique provides employment opportunities, sustainable incomes, and skills for artisans to achieve financial independence. To date, it has worked with over 300 artisans and impacted the lives of more than 1,500 local beneficiaries. Each purchase directly benefits the artisan who handcrafted the products and helps transform the lives of marginalised families and communities.
Tanoti was founded by Jacqueline Fong and this award-winning social enterprise strives to pursue heritage preservation, empower women and is involved in rural community building. Its focus is on empowering rural and remote communities of Sarawak to earn a living out of their ancestral craft techniques and indigenous foods. Beginning as a small community of 11 songket weavers in 2012, Tanoti now engages with 500 artisans residing in 25 different settlements across Sarawak. The products have been exhibited and are being sold in the United States of America, Europe, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. This social impact company extends its work not only by marketing products but also as an advocate for the traditional crafts and food industries.
Ranee Art Gallery
Founded by Rosemarie Wong, Ranee Art Gallery aims to revitalise the crafting industry through empowerment and upskilling. The award-winning social enterprise is committed to being on a journey of working with rural communities and collaborating with other like-minded organisations that also engage with various marginalised communities across Borneo, Sarawak. Ranee has been focusing on product sourcing and research & development in its ongoing business development and marketing programme over the last 10 years. Its products are tagged with “The Ranee of Sarawak” label which reflects and represents Sarawak at her most beautiful and utmost best in quality, originality and uniqueness. Ranee provides a curated retail platform to support its crafting communities, independent artisans, charities and NGOs by bringing Sarawak crafts to an international audience.
Changgih Designs was founded by Bethany Dawson in 2015. It depicts Sabahan culture and blends it with present-day fashion to design pieces that celebrate the heritage of Sabah. In the last 7 years, Changgih has been working with the Sabahan community to produce designs that are inspired by local traditional motifs while providing wages to women, especially mothers to empower them to support their families. These women are provided with training and Changgih works with its artisans to create beautiful and durable products. Changgih began its “Give10toSabah” programme and every time someone buys an item, he or she is automatically giving back to the community.
Founded by Kiew Boon Siew and Bong Pei Fong in 2011, Heart Treasures is a social enterprise that provides a ‘dignity-for-life’ transformation to young people with physical and intellectual disabilities to allow them to live fulfilling lives. Heart Treasures provide them with sessions of art therapy and assist in developing their communication and fine motor skills. Artisans who participated in the art therapy sessions learned ways to communicate and improve their fine motor skills through the creation of crafted beads, earrings, necklaces, bags, notebooks and more from upcycled materials. Its mission is to sell the artisans’ creations to assist in the funding of Heart Treasures and continue to deliver this life-changing therapy to its artisans.
Seven Tea One
Seven Tea One is an accredited social enterprise that provides vocational training and employment space for teens with disabilities from marginalised communities to gain employment skills and income for sustainable living. Founded by Lai Chong Haur, its business activities is founded on the philosophy of “Business as a matter of Inclusiveness” hence all its activities and efforts are streamlined towards fostering inclusivity in communities through sustainable ventures, undertakings and engagement. Seven Tea One involves teens in therapy-based training, herbal infusion tea processing, café operations, handy crafts and food preparation. It strongly believes that by empowering communities, the socio-economic status of families could be improved.