How social enterprises can help Malaysia achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030

BFM’s Freda Liu has been covering social enterprises for the past 20 years.— Picture by Miera Zulyana
BFM’s Freda Liu has been covering social enterprises for the past 20 years.— Picture by Miera Zulyana

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 6 — Social enterprises can help Malaysia reach its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, says BFM’S Freda Liu.

“Shared prosperity is the hot topic these days and I can see how social enterprises are a great way moving forward,” said Liu, who was speaking at the Workshops of the World Communicate (WOWComm) 2019 conference which was held yesterday at Putrajaya Marriott Hotel.

The business radio presenter, author and emcee was referring to the federal government’s Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 which aims to help Malaysia achieve sustainable growth along with a fair and equitable distribution, across income groups, ethnicities, regions and supply chains.

The framework also includes the goal to transform the country into a high-income earning nation, focusing on high technology jobs that require specific skills.

Liu, who has been covering social enterprises for over 20 years, said she was first introduced to the concept way before the term was coined when she interviewed Angela Yap, the founder of boutique content development and publishing house Akasaa.

“This lady provides education for girls and so one girl who can afford it must find a friend who is from the B40 to attend the class with her,” explained Liu.

Liu said she became interested in social enterprises because she believes businesses are sustainable and businesses can be the impetus to improve a nation. 

“Business is what fuels the country,” Liu said during her session Social Enterprises: The Tool for Shared Prosperity.

During her session, Liu also touched on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 to be achieved by the year 2030.

It was designed by the UN as a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”.

Malaysia currently ranks 68 out of 162 countries.

The UN’S Sustainable Development Goals aims to ‘achieve a better and more sustainable future for all’ by 2030. — Picture from
The UN’S Sustainable Development Goals aims to ‘achieve a better and more sustainable future for all’ by 2030. — Picture from

“We recorded as 5.9 per cent increase in the region average which is good but when I look at how we are doing, we don’t see any indication of what’s going for Reduced Inequalities and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions,” said Liu.

Gender Equality is growing but data shows improvements are insufficient for Malaysia to meet the target by 2030.

“There are still a lot of things we can’t do in 10 years’ time if we don’t change the game.

“When we think of one aspect of one thing that we do, it does have an impact on everything else,” she said.

Liu went on to explain how SDGs such as Clean Water and Sanitation has a direct impact on Gender Equality.

In some countries that require water to be collected, girls are sent by their families to perform the task instead of boys.

“When they are collecting water, it means they are not going to school. The boys are not the ones collecting the water,” she said.

By addressing SGD6 which is Clean Water, Gender Equality is also addressed in the process.

In Malaysia, Grub Cycle, Athena, PichaEats, Epic Homes, Batik Boutique and Earth Heir are just some of the social enterprises that support a cause to help make lives better.

“The more profitable they are, it means the more they are helping towards their cause. 

“Being profitable is important because it’s sustainable, business in itself has to be sustainable,” said Liu.

She explained that purchasing products and services from a social enterprise contributes to the country’s SDGs.

“If you have two products of the same value and the same appeal but you know that one brand is doing something good for a greater cause, you would automatically look for the one that is serving a greater purpose,” she said.

How you can make a difference

1. Thinking of starting a business? Start a social enterprise instead.

2. Get corporate gifts and engage training providers from social enterprises.

3. Include social enterprises in your supply chain.

4. Verify a social enterprise’s legitimacy with bodies like MAGIC, Purpose Malaysia, Social Enterprise Alliance Malaysia and similar agencies.

The one-day conference was organised for business owners, public and private sector professionals, environmental advocates, students, and other individuals to gain knowledge on how to adopt sustainable practices to become more eco-friendly.

Malay Mail and Bernama were media partners of the event.

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