Phi­los­o­phy of buy2Give1

Founder Masami Sato of Buy2 Give1 ex­plains how sim­ple char­i­ta­ble deeds can im­pact the lives of the needy.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By SHEELA CHAN­DRAN sheelac@thes­tar.com.my

WHEN Masami Sato set up Bounc­ing Olives, a Bris­bane-based frozen or­ganic food man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany, she of­ten won­dered about ways to help the un­der­priv­i­leged.

To kick­start her mis­sion, she used to is­sue cheques (from prof­its earned from her busi­ness) to var­i­ous char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions. As her busi­ness flour­ished, Sato, orig­i­nally from Tokyo, and busi­ness part­ner David Ant­tony, con­cep­tu­alised a sim­ple but ef­fec­tive method by giv­ing part of their prof­its back to char­ity.

“As a food com­pany, the greater cause was pro­vid­ing nutrition to peo­ple who didn’t have ac­cess to food. My part­ner and I put aside prof­its earned from ev­ery frozen food item sold to­wards feed­ing the hun­gry. It dawned upon us how the con­cept could be ap­plied to busi­ness mod­els world­wide.

“For ex­am­ple, for ev­ery book sold, pub­lish­ers could work to­wards help­ing the un­der­priv­i­leged ob­tain free books or re­plant trees. Al­ter­na­tively, for ev­ery bot­tle of min­eral wa­ter pur­chased, com­pa­nies could help peo­ple have ac­cess to clean wa­ter or work to­wards re­cy­cling plas­tic bot­tles.

“It’s amaz­ing how sim­ple char- itable deeds can im­pact the lives of the needy,” said Sato dur­ing an in­ter­view in Kuala Lumpur re­cently.

Fu­elled by pas­sion, she sold her four-year-old food busi­ness in 2007 and took the dras­tic step of re­lo­cat­ing to Singapore to launch Buy1Give1 (B1G1), a global ini­tia­tive that op­er­ates to help con­nect busi­nesses with wor­thy causes via the web­site B1G1.com.

Founded by Sato, Ant­tony and Paul Dunn, B1G1’s web­site works like this – when a sub­scriber (in­di­vid­u­als/or­gan­i­sa­tions) “buys” a B1G1 busi­ness part­ner’s prod­uct or ser­vice (a char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tion reg­is­tered un­der B1G1.com), a cer­tain per­cent­age of funds/prof­its (from a sub­scriber) is chan­nelled to­wards help­ing the un­der­priv­i­leged.

Sub­scribers can choose to do­nate through busi­ness trans­ac­tions or based on im­pact (for ex­am­ple, how many chil­dren you want to help ed­u­cate).

Global net­work

To­day, Sato has clients from 14 dif­fer­ent coun­tries. Over 600 projects from 28 coun­tries are now listed on B1G1. The or­gan­i­sa­tion also has over 250 busi­nesses around the world sup­port­ing what it does as small and medium en­ter­prises (SME) busi­ness mem­bers or part­ners.

All of the con­tri­bu­tions made by B1G1 busi­nesses are passed di­rectly to the wor­thy cause or­gan­i­sa­tions. B1G1 takes noth­ing from the con­tri­bu­tions, nei­ther does it re­ceive funds from char­i­ties in any way for ser­vices pro­vided.

“We con­nect busi­ness around the world re­gard­lessof their size. There are over 600 projects listed so or­gan­i­sa­tions can browse through our web­site for projects to sup­port. A few cents do­nated can make a big im­pact in un­der­de­vel­oped coun­tries,” Sato ex­plained.

She said that B1G1’s sole mis­sion was to cre­ate an im­pact on so­ci­ety, and not about the mon­e­tary funds re­ceived by com­pa­nies.

“Com­pa­nies get to keep track of the ac­cu­mu­lat­ing im­pact like the num­ber of meals given to feed hun­gry chil­dren, trees planted or chil­dren you have helped to ed­u­cate.

“The real joy is in cre­at­ing a ‘giv­ing cul­ture’ within our com­mu­nity, com­pa­nies and per­sonal life,” said Sato, who stud­ied ar­chi­tec­ture and life sci­ence at pri­vate uni­ver­sity Mae­bashi Ky­oei Gaguen Col­lege in Gunma Pre­fec­ture, Ja­pan.

Al­though the or­gan­i­sa­tion cur­rently has sub­scribers world­wide, Sato ad­mit­ted go­ing through a se­ries of hur­dles when she first started the com­pany. Some peo­ple couldn’t un­der­stand B1G1’s con­cept while oth­ers ques­tioned its va­lid­ity.

“Some ques­tioned if it was pos­si­ble to give a free TV if you were sell­ing one. How­ever, the con­cept works if you’re sell­ing a TV, and you’re con­tribut­ing part of your prof­its at the same time to help give a gift of vi­sion by giv­ing a cataract op­er­a­tion to a blind per­son,” she said.

Sato ex­plained that B1G1’s tar­get au­di­ence were ba­si­cally small and medium en­ter­prises (SMEs) which lacked knowl­edge in chan­nelling prof­its for char­ity.

“Large or­gan­i­sa­tions usu­ally have their own Cor­po­rate So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity depart­ment which or­gan­ises busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties. To help SME busi­ness or­gan­i­sa­tions, we pro­vide ser­vices by of­fer­ing ways to give back to the needy.

“At B1G1, our ob­jec­tives re­volve around cre­at­ing a car­ing so­ci­ety. Giv­ing is not some­thing that is re­quired for busi­nesses, es­pe­cially for SMEs right now. But once a busi­ness starts in­te­grat­ing these lit­tle yet im­pact­ful giv­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, the com­pany’s cul­ture will even­tu­ally surely be trans­formed,” said Sato, 36, who has au­thored two books: Joy: The Gift Of Ac­cep­tance, Trust And Love

and One – Shar­ing The Joy Of Giv­ing.

Fab­u­lous flow

She first learnt the im­por­tance of serv­ing the com­mu­nity when she was a young through her neigh­bour, an el­derly woman named Chie In­aba. Through her, Sato learnt about farm­ing, nat­u­ral cook­ing and liv­ing with sim­ple means.

“Chie loved spend­ing her time giv­ing and car­ing for ev­ery­one. She didn’t need to be ac­knowl­edged for her giv­ing at all. Her joy was in giv­ing it­self. I learned so much dur­ing the time I lived a very sim­ple life grow­ing veg­eta­bles and liv­ing close to na­ture,” ex­plained the mother of two.

She will be one of the speak­ers at the up­com­ing The Gath­er­ing Of Great Minds – Se­ries 3 which will be held at the Se­cu­ri­ties Com­mis­sion in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 26.

Sato’s topic en­com­passes three as­pects – let­ting go of judge­ment, ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives and cre­at­ing fab­u­lous flow.

“My topic will be on how per­sonal changes can cre­ate a mas­sive global dif­fer­ence and how much more re­source­ful we can all be­come when in­te­grat­ing these sim­ple ideas.”

The con­fer­ence com­prises a se­ries of talks de­signed to share strate­gies rang­ing from lead­er­ship to love, and ap­ply­ing them into your per­sonal life. Se­ries 1 and 2 took place last Au­gust and Septem­ber, re­spec­tively.

Se­ries 3, themed Strate­gies For To­day, will be fea­tur­ing Rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing In­dus­tries (by Sato); Mad Men: Get­ting Used To Equal­ity For Women (by women’s rights ac­tivi­tist Datin Paduka Ma­rina Ma­hathir); Do It For Unity (Zubedy (M) Sdn Bhd’s founder Anas Zubedy); Lead­er­ship In The 21st Cen­tury ( Leadero­nomics chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Roshan Thi­ran); Par­tic­i­pat­ing In Trans­for­ma­tion (mo­ti­va­tional speaker Dhyan Vi­mal) and What’s Your Love Strat­egy? (physi­cian/clown Dr Patch Adams). n Passes to the The Gath­er­ing of Great-Minds–Series3 are priced at RM698. To reg­is­ter, log on to the­gath­eringof­great­minds.com or live­andin­spire.com. For de­tails, call % 03-796 35101, 1-700-801-101 or e-mail info@live­andin­spire.com.

Al­tru­is­tic: ‘B1G1 is a global ini­tia­tive that helps con­nect busi­nesses with wor­thy causes through the sim­ple yet pow­er­ful on­line ‘Giv­ing En­gine’,’ says B1G1 co-founder Masami Sato.

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