Since Taiwan raised its national pandemic alert in May, consumption patterns have undergone tremendous change. As physical channels and on-site activities are constrained, finding ways to create new opportunities for products and services are the top priority in all sectors of the economy.

Through the groundbreaking approach of public-private collaboration, challenges were transformed into opportunities. Last year, the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which has long been mentoring and training Taiwan’s social innovation organizations, established the “A Chosen Future” project. Involving 75 annually awarded social innovation and quality manufacturers, the initiative is based on the key theme of U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 12: responsible consumption and production.

The project’s Mandarin name features the phonetic “zé”, which represents a combination of “responsible”(責) production and “selective”(擇) consumption. It further opens consumer’s minds to the meaning of “zé,” laying the foundations for forging a “future with choices” together.

Faced with the impact of COVID-19, the SMEA continued cultivating opportunities for social innovation organizations, as well as fast-tracking negotiations on intellectual property co-branding, pop-up stores and various e-commerce channels. One highlight was the launch in July of the “A Chosen Future Online Flagship Store” by the SMEA and homegrown e-commerce heavyweight PChome. The first wave of 20 social innovation brands, including natural ingredients and environmentally friendly products, won widespread praise upon debut.

Inspired by the “A Chosen Future Online Flagship Store”, the government launched the “Quintuple Stimulus Voucher” in September, employing the same approach to encourage customers to return to bricks-and-mortar stores. The undertaking is part of the government’s Relief Package 4.0 program, which has assisted over 11 million people since June. Vouchers valued at NT$5,000 (US$181) will be issued. Any nationals born before April 30, 2022, as well as foreigners who obtain permanent residency before this date, can spend the voucher in a store using a paper voucher or reimbursement via credit card and mobile payment systems.

Taiwan e-commerce platforms are part and parcel of the initiative for the first time. Each platform will set up a dedicated area for the promotion of the vouchers, so that consumption focuses on local businesses and small farmers. Modeled after the “A Chosen Future” project, the strategy dovetails with new consumption patterns and ensures the government’s coronavirus-support net is cast wider.

Drawing on the lessons of last year’s successful stimulus voucher experience, many adjustments have been made to increase convenience. For example, up to four separate stimulus voucher allocations can be linked to an individual account through the OTP of the National Health Insurance Express App.

Furthermore, the “Quintuple Stimulus Voucher” incorporates a QR Code setting. A discount QR code will be issued upon digital linking. Whether it is for a physical purchase or online consumption, as long as the QR Code is entered at the time of order or checkout, it can link to a voucher. In addition to enjoying the corresponding savings, consumers can confirm the vouchers are used for desired businesses or products.

The objective of SDG 12 is to ensure sustainable consumption and production. From service design to consumption process, through public-private collaboration on social innovation, the “Quintuple Stimulus Voucher” is another shining example of Taiwan finding flexible approaches for spurring the post-pandemic economic bounceback whilst creating a new model for the development of sustainable business.