Firm's 'small giving' wins big at business awards

Ms Masami Sato, founder of non-profit organisation B1G1, planting a tree in Borneo. Her social enterprise connects SMEs with projects of their choice and has about 500 projects on its platform for them to choose from, including planting a tree for US
Ms Masami Sato, founder of non-profit organisation B1G1, planting a tree in Borneo. Her social enterprise connects SMEs with projects of their choice and has about 500 projects on its platform for them to choose from, including planting a tree for US$1.50 to US$3 (S$2 to S$4) each time they have a business transaction or successful project.PHOTO: B1G1

Special recognition for social enterprise that encourages SMEs to give back in small ways

Social enterprise B1G1 (Buy1Give1) stands out among firms vying for the Sustainable Business Awards this year, for its work in helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) adopt sustainable practices and environmental awareness.

The Singapore-based operation scored a special recognition award under the SME section at a ceremony last night.

Founder Masami Sato said: "I think we were selected for the way we work with businesses; the way we take care of relationships to create the most positive impact out of small activities happening around the world."

The 19 winners at the awards ceremony held at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore were singled out for their efforts in areas such as energy, water and waste management.

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B1G1, which is a non-profit organisation, connects SMEs with projects of their choice, and encourages them to give back to society in small ways. It has about 500 projects on its platform for firms to choose from.

For instance, Ms Sato said, SMEs can choose to plant a tree for US$1.50 to US$3 (S$2 to S$4) each time they have a business transaction or successful project.

The Japanese founder used to own a food business in Australia but moved to Singapore 10 years ago to start B1G1, encouraged by her own problems when it came to giving back.

  • Sustainable Business Awards winners

    OVERALL WINNER: CDL

    Best strategy and sustainability management: CDL

    Best workforce: Keppel Corporation

    Best community: Singtel

    Best energy management: Evonik

    Best water management: Kimberly-Clark

    Best waste management and material productivity: Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific

    Best climate change: Unilever

    Best supply chain management: FrieslandCampina

    Best land use, biodiversity and environment: Armstrong Asset Management

    Best business responsibility and ethics: Unilever

    Best stakeholder engagement and materiality: StarHub

    Best UN sustainable development goals: Essilor

    Best flagship initiative: DBS

    Best SME: LooLa Adventure Group

    Best newcomer: Evonik


    SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARDS

    Strategy and sustainability management: Keppel Corporation

    Workforce: CDL

    Community: Unilever

    Energy management: CDL

    Water management: Unilever

    Waste management and material productivity: Accor Hotels

    Climate change: Kimberly-Clark

    Supply chain management: Ericsson

    Land use, biodiversity and environment: Keppel Land

    Business responsibility and ethics: Evonik

    Stakeholder engagement and materiality: Accor Hotels

    UN Sustainable development goals: Accor Hotels

    Flagship initiative: UOB

    SME: Buy1Give1

    Newcomer: Barilla

She said: "It is difficult for small business owners to have extra time or funding to do something. Even though my company was growing, I thought it would be the same for any business owner, that they might be frustrated at being unable to do something meaningful.

"So instead of doing big things, what if we could do 'small giving' with small amounts, instead of waiting for big profits to come first."

B1G1 has about 2,200 members and in April reached 100 million small actions - planting a tree is considered one such action, for instance - compared with only a million actions in its first few years.

Another winner last night was Evonik, a German speciality chemical firm that has plants in Singapore.

It took home three awards - for energy management, a special recognition one for business responsibility and ethics, and the best newcomer honour.

The firm reached a 2020 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12 per cent as early as last year.

Dr Detlef Maennig, Evonik's vice- president of corporate social responsibility, said by telephone from Germany that the firm continues to watch its emissions closely.

He added: "We have a global team of energy management experts who scrutinise each site globally... so this team (takes) best practices learnt from one site to the others."

The awards were organised by event producer Global Initiatives, with partners PwC, Business Council for Sustainable Development, EuroCham, Control Union, and The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2017, with the headline 'Firm's 'small giving' wins big at business awards'. Print Edition | Subscribe