Spotlight on SDG 12: Stories from our alumni
How are they putting what they learned into practice?
Sustainable Enterprise Consultants (SEC) is a College-service that serves two purposes: support High School Global Concerns to engage in effective marketing and financial planning whilst being conscious of the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental sustainability, and to raise awareness of SDG 12, Responsible Production and Consumption, within our wider community. We want to recognise the importance of profit as an incentive to be enterprising whilst emphasising that it is how that profit is raised and who is affected by its pursuit that matters. Our goal is to convince consumers to value people and the planet as much as price.
In June of 2021, we had an incredible opportunity to connect with the director of SaladStop!, Katherine Braha ‘01, to understand a business that serves as a pioneer for the conscious consumption and production of food. Saladstop! is the first and largest healthy food chain in Asia, and their core values are also in line with those at our school - integrity, respect, and a commitment to excellence. Ms Braha spoke to us about the challenges SaladStop! faced while trying to expand whilst remaining true to its sustainable, economical, social and environmental values. One of the main issues they faced was that some countries are very particular about their expansion partners. For instance, in Indonesia, many prime locations for Food and Beverage shops were hard to secure. Nevertheless, they persevered through it and found solutions.
For SaladStop!, growth is a continual objective, but the idea of being continually conscious is equally as important to them. Initially, they absorbed the cost of any changes in price, knowing that increased volume would eventually decrease their costs. Ultimately, being a conscious company has significantly benefited Saladstop!, as they are able to access an untapped market where consumers actively seek businesses that support their own values. Lastly, SaladStop! is constantly striving to improve themselves and push the boundaries of what it means to be a sustainable enterprise; one of their new initiatives is planting baby mangroves that will absorb up to 20 times more carbon from the atmosphere than the meal is responsible for if consumers go ‘climate positive’ by donating just 20 cents for their meal.
At the end of November, we also connected with Emmanuel Dean ‘14 and Miguel Boy ‘14, two UWCSEA alumni who founded BOOMI, a for-profit social enterprise that provides an e-commerce platform for sustainable products. It is integrated inside WeChat, which offers a sales platform in China with over 1.2 billion monthly users. BOOMI aims to connect and inspire customers to make a difference in the world through the power of consumer sovereignty. They provide over 200 different products from over 40 brands, whilst their inspiring mission and values align with UWC’s and encompasses SEC’s aims. Every product on BOOMI must undergo a meticulous vetting process that ensures that everything, from production to packaging, is as eco-friendly and plastic free as possible. This process includes research into where and how products are manufactured, the product life and working conditions. Because of the high quality of their products, one of the challenges they faced was that many of their products are designed to be bought only once. For example their reusable face wipes have a low number of returning customers compared to more commercial businesses. However, they viewed this as a good thing as they want to fulfil needs not to create unnecessary ones. Their business model has allowed them to make a profit and to contribute 8.8% percent of their revenue towards a fund to plant an entire forest in Inner Mongolia. To date they have planted 6,900 trees.
Ultimately, through all these amazing discussions, we were able to understand how truly sustainable practices are implemented in alumni run businesses enabling us to see our mission in action. It was interesting to learn about how companies include their own core values of sustainable production while growing their businesses. Both these interviews allowed us to understand the creativity and hard work that goes into building a successful enterprise. Finally, it is important for us as consumers to support these enterprises as they work towards redefining sustainable practices in businesses.