Purposeful Profits

The Batik Boutique has impacted over 150 families by helping artisans earn a living sewing gifts sold in the global market

By Freda Liu

Producer and presenter

BFM 89.9

A developed country according to Wikipedia is a sovereign state that has a highly developed economy and advanced technological infrastructure relative to other less industrialised nations. How do you move a nation? I always believe politics and business are probably two of the great movers. Positively or negatively.

Having worked in a business radio station for close to 10 years, I have seen positive stories coming out of the country. Yes, it would be the likes of Grab which started in Malaysia in 2012 and within a few years, transforming into a formidable regional player to social enterprises like The Batik Boutique which have impacted over 150 families by helping artisans earn a living sewing gifts sold in the global market.

When asked to contribute to Business Today, I was asked what interest me. Being part of the Enterprise belt on BFM since its inception in 2009, our tagline is “Tools to Help You Succeed in Business” in which we have covered the gamut from start-ups, technology, and personal development to the intricacies of running an organisation from human resource to marketing. Or learning about social enterprises and how technology is an enabler to how we live today.

Over the years, Enterprise started a segment called “Her Vantage” where we feature women of leadership and influence. I have spoken to women in business, politics, sports and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) to fashion designers. The purpose is to showcase that women are represented in all strata of society. The war cry for women: if I can see it, I can do it.

Having worked in public relations at a consultancy level to a multinational company, the art of story-telling or being able to elicit the story has always been part of my DNA. Of late, I have been enjoying the stories of social enterprises.

From the environment, food waste management to helping disadvantaged women, it is always satisfying to hear of the successes of these social enterprises in churning out revenues – the more they earn, the more they are able to continue with their cause sustainably.

Social enterprises are not new ideas. The term probably got sexier along the way. The most famous social enterprise to me was the Body Shop when Anita Roddick started it. Knowing that the shampoo I was buying was helping women in Africa earn fair wages made shopping less guilty!

We still have a long way to go in Malaysia unfortunately. We have a handful of these social businesses for one, and most are still struggling to be profitable. This brings me back to my initial point of how we move a nation. The characteristics of a developed nation are that we are highly industrialised and have high per capita income levels.

There is a lot of political will to move in this direction. In our quest for development, let also our hearts, minds and awareness of what’s happening in Malaysia and around the world turn us into more civic conscious and compassionate Malaysians.

This story first appeared in the Business Today Magazine (March 2018 issue)


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