Empowering Communities To Make A Difference
This article was originally published on Forbes.
Studies have shown that purpose-driven companies enjoy a stronger reputation, brand affinity and positive business impact. A survey of more than 8,000 consumers globally found that 94% of respondents say it is important that the companies they engage with have a strong corporate purpose, while 83% say they are more likely to support a brand’s need to be profitable if it also has a positive impact on the world. Furthermore, consumers in Asia believe that the top priority of a purposeful brand is to make products and services that reflect the needs of people.
And this is exactly what the founders of Carousell, a Singapore-based classifieds and recommerce online marketplace, built their business model around. “We were looking for a problem—a meaningful problem in our daily lives that we hoped there was a solution for,” says Marcus Tan, Co-Founder of Carousell. Tan wanted to make the buying and selling of under-used items or things that people have outgrown simple by using a mobile app.
Inspiring The Community
Carousell is now worth millions and has a huge community across Southeast Asia. The company’s mission of reducing waste and promoting sustainability resonates with consumers, especially today when people are becoming more concerned about climate change and want to do their part in protecting the environment.
Tan says, “We want to inspire more people to adopt this lifestyle because we believe it’s meaningful, and we want to make secondhand the first choice.”
In celebration of its 10th anniversary last year, Carousell released its Recommerce Index that shows the sustainability impact its collective community has made by buying and selling secondhand items. Over the past decade, Carousell’s users have extended the life cycle of millions of items, including 76.8 million fashion items, 33.9 million electronics, 26.6 million hobby items and toys, and 11.1 million home items and furniture.
In April 2022, Carousell partnered with IKEA to make circularity convenient and accessible to consumers in Singapore. Sellers who bought and sold pre-loved IKEA products or those who engaged in freecycling on the Carousell platform were rewarded with Carousell Protection vouchers and/or IKEA Family points.
The company has also worked with charities in the last few years to facilitate donations through its #Blessings campaigns. In 2021, the company launched the CarouBiz Charities Package designed to help charities digitalize their fundraising efforts and gain higher visibility.
Carousell is just one of a growing number of purpose-driven companies that is determined to be a force for good. It is part of the Company of Good ecosystem in Singapore, nurtured by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), where businesses go beyond adopting corporate giving to be more purpose-driven and create impact in the areas of people, society, governance, economic and the environment.
Solving Real-World Problems
Traveloka, Southeast Asia’s leading travel platform, is also a Company of Good. “From the beginning, our corporate purpose has been to leverage technology to build a more equitable future for all,” says Caesar Indra, President of Traveloka. “We have developed solid teams to create great technology; they have a deep understanding of the local markets and are passionate about solving real-world problems to build a better world.”
Traveloka partners with businesses in Southeast Asia to help them grow by providing them with technological solutions, access to global markets and consumer insights. Last year, the company became a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) as part of its commitment to promoting sustainable tourism in the region. “Research shows that there has been a dramatic shift toward sustainable travel among consumers,” says Indra. A recent Traveloka survey in Indonesia shows that an overwhelming 98.5% of consumers want sustainable accommodation choices on the platform, while 54.5% would be willing to pay a premium for such accommodations.
Traveloka has been collaborating with GSTC to offer hotel partners in Indonesia training on sustainable tourism. The company hopes to extend this program to other markets in the region.
“All businesses live as part of a bigger ecosystem. And value creation for society can only be done sustainably with the support and participation of stakeholders and within the ecosystem,” says Indra on the importance of social impact.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Jakarta-based company stepped up to support the Indonesian government’s vaccination program by operating vaccination centers in Yogyakarta, South Tangerang, Bandung and the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in the capital. In addition, members of the public were also able to use the Traveloka app to easily book their vaccination slots. This initiative saw about 60,000 residents receive their Covid-19 vaccinations.
Traveloka also stood in solidarity with Singaporeans during the pandemic. To support those whose lives and livelihoods had been impacted by the pandemic, including local tourism businesses, Traveloka enabled its consumers to donate their SingapoRediscovers Vouchers to different beneficiaries. It also enabled donations to various charities, including The Salvation Army, Club Rainbow and The Boys’ Brigade.
“We believe that doing good should not be an afterthought,” says Indra. “It must be ingrained in the company culture and purpose. For us, doing good and delivering business performance go hand in hand. It will result in a more sustainable business in the ecosystem.”
Attracting Like-Minded Talent
Both Traveloka and Carousell have demonstrated how companies with a strong purpose have a distinct advantage in the marketplace, with the trust they have earned from their stakeholders. They are also able to attract like-minded, mission-driven talent to drive social impact in a sustainable way.
Carousell’s Marcus Tan says, “I think there are two aspects to being a Champion of Good. It’s important to look at the business model standpoint and think about how you can make the product more sustainable or how you can create social impact. The second aspect is tapping on your people—you’d be surprised how passionate people are when it comes to doing good.”
NVPC is working with various stakeholders including government bodies, associations, universities, NGOs and intermediaries to leverage their specialized and complementary skills and resources to create an enabling, thriving ecosystem for corporate purpose. It recently announced a new Company of Good strategy and recognition model, which focus on a transformational shift toward corporate purpose.