Social Enterprise in Malaysia: The Top 10 Most Innovative and Impactful
Social enterprise in Malaysia is all about giving back to the Malaysian community.
Here at UNPLUG, we're all about supporting businesses that support others. Social enterprises give back to the community while also turning a profit. This creates a win-win as a business owner and the community.
So if you're feeling like supporting a business, why not lookout for a social enterprise that promotes impactful change in the community. Whether helping the environment or minority communities, we've rounded up the ten most innovative and impactful social enterprises in Malaysia to watch out for.
Social Enterprise in Malaysia: The Top 10 To Watch Out For
Eat X Dignity
Komuniti Tukang Jahit
Social Enterprise in Malaysia: The Top 10 To Watch Out For
Fugeelah is a mission-driven social enterprise in Malaysia that supports children and youth seeking refuge in Malaysia.
Founded by our Former Miss Universe Malaysia, Deborah Henry, Fugeelah's primary purpose is to help fund the running of Fugee School.
This school provides free education to those in transit in Malaysia, as they cannot access regular school due to their immigration status.
Fugeelah is a women-led conscious jewelry brand and pays a lot of attention to where the materials come from and ensure a fair wage is paid. With famous Malaysian designers as collaborators, each piece tells a story. A percentage of the purchase price goes back to Fugee School.
View the Fugeelah collection in-store and online at the UNPLUG shop.
2. Tanoti Craft
Tanoti Craft creates the most beautiful hand-woven pieces by Sarawakian women weavers and artisans. The purpose of this social enterprise in Malaysia is to improve women's lives in rural communities through the ancient art of songket weaving.
Songket weaving is a painstaking process, and each piece can take between 2-3 months due to the intricacy behind the weaving. An art that UNESCO has recently added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
When you make a purchase, you're not just buying a piece of material; you're buying an art that has been passed down through generations of women to keep it alive for the generations to come.
The Tanoti collection can be found in-store and online at the UNPLUG shop.
Mangosteen is a social enterprise in Malaysia built to empower women and children in South East Asia. Mangosteen's primary purpose was to support organisations that do good work but need help being scaled and amplified across the region.
At the moment, Mangosteen is focusing on supporting the Women's Aid Organisation (WAO), making a donation to the WAO with every purchase made above RM100 (USD23.80). This is essential work as the WAO supports domestic violence victims in Malaysia by providing support and resources to these victims.
Mangosteen's products focus on being good for the skin and good for your soul. So next time you need a boost, why not grab something from their range. You'll feel better knowing you've done something for yourself and women in need.
You can find Mangosteen’s range of products in-store and online at the UNPLUG shop.
4. Earth Heir
Earth Heir celebrates Malaysia's varied heritage art forms and unique culture by working with over 100 artisans across the country. It was founded as a social enterprise in Malaysia to provide independent artisans with an outlet to showcase their rare handicrafts.
Each piece is hand-made, and the materials are thoughtfully sourced to make sure they're environmentally friendly.
When you purchase a piece, you learn about who made it and the unique culture that influenced the piece's design. Each of the stories is beautiful and connects you to your purchase piece.
View the Earth Heir collection in-store and online at the UNPLUG shop.
5. Batik Boutique
Batik Boutique's mission is to disrupt the cycle of poverty in Malaysia. By empowering artisans from marginalised communities, these artisans produce beautiful pieces made from Batik, a traditional Malaysian fabric.
Batik Boutique looks at the process of creation to sale. It looks at providing employment opportunities, sustainable incomes, and skills to artisans. Hence, they're able to achieve long-term financial independence. Each purchase triggers an impactful change for these artisans and their generations to come.
6. Picha Eats
If you're a foodie, this social enterprise in Malaysia is for you. Picha Eats is a social enterprise that empowers refugees to cook dishes from their home countries and delivers them to the hungry mouths of foodies across the city.
Since January 2016, Picha Eats has partnered with 35 chefs from Syria, Myanmar, Afghanistan, and many more from the refugee community in Malaysia. Picha Eats expanded to include meal subscription plans, ready-to-heat frozen meals, and caters to corporate events with rave reviews.
All profits are split evenly with the chefs and give the chefs' children the opportunity to continue their education. Food is one of the many ways to bring communities together. This is an innovative and impactful social enterprise that's doing just that.
7. Biji Biji
Biji Biji is the brainchild of the Biji Biji initiative, one of Malaysia's first social enterprises. Their focus was to change the sustainability scene in Malaysia, and through that, Biji Biji was formed.
A sustainability-focused fashion label, Biji Biji selects materials from a range of industries and transforms them into beautiful, functional, and timeless designs. Biji Biji focuses on upcycling, which uses old materials and turns them into something useful—for example, using old seat belts and turning them into handbag straps.
8. Eat X Dignity
Eat x Dignity is an offshoot from the social enterprise Dignity for Children. The problem they're trying to solve is to help the more than 70,000 children in Malaysia living in poor conditions with no access to public schools.
Eat X Dignity is a cafe and creative space that gives youth the ability to earn an income while learning a skill. Their menu looks delicious, and the space is warm and inviting. Why not check them out when you're next feeling peckish.
9. Urban Hijau
You probably don't think of a farm when you think of cosmopolitan cities. Well, Urban Hijau is exactly this. An Urban Organic Farm in the City. They've created a sustainable organic farm right in the middle of Kuala Lumpur. Who would've thought!
They also use permaculture to unite people, generate profit, and preserve the planet. Basically, doing all the right things for our future generations. Not only do they grow wholesome food, but they also train people to do the same.
This is a long-lasting, impactful change as these skills can be passed down from generation to generation.
Every Sunday, they host a farmers market where you can buy some local produce, supporting the farmers. You'll find a range of fresh organic vegetables, and you may also meet the farmers and learn their stories. They may even convince you to start an urban farm of your own.
10. Komuniti Tukang Jahit
Komuniti Tukang Jahit (KTJ) was founded in 2018 when its founder was conceptualising a start-up for aspiring fashion designers and found a group of home-based seamstresses that made beautiful items that they weren't able to make into a full-time business.
KTJ was formed to enable these women to empower themselves and earn an income from the comfort of their homes. So the next time you're looking for a personalised makeup pouch or sling bag, check out KTJ and their beautiful range.
List Of Social Enterprise Companies in Malaysia Found in UNPLUG
Ranee Art Gallery
These five brands fall under UNPLUG’s eco-metric of Social Impact. At UNPLUG, our curation is guided by eight eco-metrics to ensure that every item on our catalogue is directly contributing to people and the planet.
What Is A Social Enterprise
A social enterprise is a hybrid between businesses that trade goods and services and businesses that are changing the world for the better. Like a traditional business, they aim to make a profit. Still, the profits they do make are either reinvested or donated to create social change.
What Is A Social Enterprise Business Model
For a social enterprise, the business model focuses on how the social entrepreneur converts inputs into outcomes and how they generate both social and economic value. There are several common business model frameworks that social enterprises use.
Cross-compensation - when one group of customers pays for a service and the profits benefit another group (such as a marginalized community).
Fee for service - Customers pay for a service provided by the social enterprise. For example, you are paying for food cooked by a community group.
Employment and skills training - A business is run to provide training and employment. For example, running a cafe that offers a job and job training.
How Many Social Enterprises Are There In Malaysia
By the Malaysian legal definition, a social enterprise in Malaysia is defined as a business entity that proactively creates positive social or environmental impact in a financially sustainable way. There are fewer than 300 such accredited businesses in Malaysia, and most have been operating for less than ten years.
What Are Some Examples of Social Enterprises
From our list above, you can see many different types of social enterprises. Social enterprises could range from retail brands to cafes and fashion boutiques to bookstores and walking tours around a city.
Social enterprises are businesses that impact the world; therefore, if you have a business idea that has this focus, it could make a great social enterprise.
What Are The 6 Types Of Social Enterprise
The six types of social enterprise include:
Socially Responsible Business
Give One, Get One/Donate Portion of Proceeds Model
What Companies Are Social Enterprises
In April 2019, the Malaysian government launched the Social Enterprise Accreditation Guidelines, which effectively granted social enterprises in Malaysia recognition and a means to communicate their social and environmental impact commitments.
As part of that launch, the government highlighted 22 accredited organizations. These included some of the organizations we have listed today alongside some others, such as EPIC Homes, MaidEasy, Masala Wheels, and Silent Teddies.
What Qualifies A Social Enterprise
If you're wondering what is social enterprise and what to do to qualify, the main thing is to have a social mission that you're trying to solve. Without this, you can't be a social enterprise.
Have a clearly stated social or environmental goal
Allocated a significant amount of resources towards that goal
Be financially sound.