The epidemic has drastically changed our industry and life. At the same time, I have seen a lot of creative and practical social innovations in Taiwan, and many friends with both enthusiasm and practical ability have invested in solving social and environmental problems together. . From the mask map that the Taiwanese civic community and government collaborated on, to the low-interest impact loans offered by banks for the underprivileged, it’s all proof that both tools and technology have limitless possibilities.
There are also many social innovations that continue to emerge internationally. As a platform for connecting social innovations in the Asia-Pacific region, the Asia-Pacific Social Innovation Partnership Award (APSIPA) continues to raise ground-breaking projects to explore and commend new solutions to social and environmental issues worthy of international recognition. Since its inception in 2019, it has connected 19 leading international social innovation organizations have jointly explored nearly 250 social innovation cooperation models in more than 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. As past jury convener, I have met many amazing partnerships along the way.
For example, in 2021, for the first time, a cooperative-type social innovation organization won the award. Starting from the theme of “reducing food waste”, the Housewives Union cooperates with producers to make the best use of food in the process of producing food. For example, the black bean material for brewing soy sauce is made into bean paste, and the leftovers of poultry are made into soup stock. concept to reduce the proportion of food waste in the production and marketing process. Such an approach is not only in line with the concept of “friendly production and sales”, but also by working with producers to turn corruption into sustainability.
Under the epidemic, there are also organizations that actively use digital channels to create new opportunities in the epidemic, such as the Hong Kong social enterprise product e-commerce platform “WE+ Social Innovation and Life Platform”, which is connected to Hong Kong’s local e-commerce platform HOME+ to promote responsible consumption , through digital channels to eliminate physical barriers, to help social enterprises that have been hit by the epidemic in retail, and to obtain income through multiple channels, showing how multiple cooperation can build a support system during the epidemic. Nearly 20 brands have been listed. The concept of the WE+ social innovation and living platform and the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ small and medium-sized enterprise division joined hands with PChome to promote the launch of social innovation products and services in the flagship hall of “Responsible Firms”, which are similar in purpose.
Another good use of the digital spirit is Genashtim, a Singapore-based social innovation organization, last year’s winner of the Economic Co-Prosperity Award. Founder Thomas Ng found that in the job market, even with proper training, employment opportunities for people with disabilities are often compromised by employer stereotypes or work environment conditions. So Thomas decided to turn this around by tweaking his business model and improving his digital skills. Genashtim provides online learning and online technology-assisted services, providing long-term employment opportunities for people with disabilities and disadvantaged groups. As of 2021, Genashtim has more than 120 employees in more than 10 countries around the world. In addition, as an online company, Genashtim allows employees to work remotely, so that the composition of employees is diverse, including people with disabilities, Middle East refugees or HIV-infected people who are relatively disadvantaged in the job market, which is a catalyst for social innovation. The best example of Han Rong.
The special feature of this year’s Asia Pacific Social Innovation Awards is that the Special Jury Award takes “Human-Oriented” as its theme, encouraging teams to focus on “people”. This is because since the outbreak of the epidemic, humans have begun to adapt to new routines, and with them comes high pressure and anxiety. Therefore, the Asia-Pacific Social Innovation Award hopes to encourage participating teams to focus on human beings, and inspire various innovative methods to strengthen human physical and mental health under the new lifestyle of long-distance and zero-contact.
Bill Drayton, founder of the Ashoka Foundation, a nonprofit social venture capital firm, once said that social innovators don’t settle for just providing fish, or teaching others how to fish; they won’t rest until they revolutionize fishing. Applications for the 2022 Asia Pacific Social Innovation Partnership Awards are open until March 24. We welcome social innovation partners in the Asia-Pacific region to share with us innovative ways to revolutionize society.