Monday, 28 October 2013

"Social Collaboration" - what does it mean?

In DOT's world, businesses need not operate in a "dog-eat-dog" manner, and profits need not be generated through exploitation. It is possible to do business ethically and responsibly while contributing to positive social impact!  In an evolving consumer market where consumers are getting more educated about the impact of the products and services they purchase, it is in the interest of businesses large and small to look into ways that they can impact society positively. 

Granted, not everyone has the appetite nor experience working with the social sectors, and often, big companies take the "easy-way-out" by supporting charities by giving $$, organizing volunteer participation, etc. However, these are often "one-off" engagements that bring little long-term impact to the communities they seek to help. 

Being the bridge between the NGO/NPO sector and the commercial world, social enterprises are key to create "ethical capitalism" that brings about good for society. Supporting social enteprises in longer-term commercial collaborations thus helps to sustain their commercial viability and hence, furthers and grows their social impact. 

In DOT's world, "social collaboration" simply means different parties, individuals, organizations, institutions and companies big and small coming together to create something that's good for society. These entities can take on various roles in the social impact value chain through a myriad participation models. Here are a few examples:

1. Individual's collaboration with a social enterprise. 
Jagdeep, our volunteer opened up her house on the 23rd of October and invited her friends and neighbours to check out DOT's festive design candles for Diwali, as well as other products made by the women in our livelihood programs. We sold most of the candles made for the occasion, and we got some pretty fantastic ideas for increasing the product ranges for next year's Diwali! 

Outcome: revenue generated + product development ideas = more employment opportunities for DOT's beneficiaries.

2. Small businesses collaboration with social enterprise.
On 24th October, we saw 4 women and 1 gentleman entrepreneurs gathering together at our volunteer Suneeta's house to showcase their products ans services. We had a green smoothies company (LINS Smoodees), an herbalist/aromatherapist (Alina from Abundant Earth), a jewellery designer (Hues & Senses), a make-up artist (Angel Gwee) and a stress-buster instructor John (from Smash Your Stress). Aside from pooling together some funds to do up some flyers for distribution, these lovely entrepreneurs also contributed a percentage of their proceeds from the day's sales to DOT's Livelihood Training Fund. 

Outcome: wider marketing reach through tapping on one another's network + increased awareness of DOT's social cause!

3. Cross-industry collaboration
DOT has recently entered into a collaboration arrangement with an F&B business - a bar & bistro called Socialhaus at Yong Siak Street to showcase our handmade products at their premises. Through supporting DOT and our cause, this F&B business gains brand alignment as a business with HEART, and increased brand visibility through a wider marketing network!

Outcome: revenue generation + increased awareness of DOT's social cause + positive brand alignment for Socialhaus.

As we approach 2014, DOT is reaching out to engage more existing businesses on our social collaboration efforts so that doing good can become a part of their business operation model, beyond CSR and into marketing, sales and operations aspects. We will soon be starting a new section on DOT's website to officially acknowledge our social collaboration partners - look out for updates!