4 Ways Asia SMEs Can Drive Sustainability at Home
Small businesses play a critical role in driving growth and innovation throughout Asia Pacific and globally. Here’s how they can contribute to local economic sustainability.
But who has the opportunity to make the biggest impact? Governments and large corporations have their part to play, but it’s the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who are playing a critical role in driving growth and innovation throughout Asia Pacific. After all, SMEs account for over 97% of all businesses in the APAC region.
The value of SMEs in future-proofing our planet
E-commerce has seen rapid expansion amidst the current health and economic crises. Consumer shopping behavior has shifted online due to lockdowns and travel restrictions.
So far, around 70% of SMEs in the Asia Pacific have digitalized their businesses faster than expected to meet the rising demand of consumers. As SMEs continue to become digitally mature, they’re vital to driving economic recovery.
Need more tips? Check out these simple sustainability shifts that SMEs can incorporate into their businesses:
1. Save resources, go digital
It is estimated that a digital economy will contribute 1 trillion USD to Asia’s GDP in the next ten years. SMEs can lower operating expenses by bringing their business online. A fully digital business means that your store is open online 24/7, without the added costs of maintaining a physical store. Even a hybrid store could significantly reduce operating costs. Businesses can save on resources because transactions would be online and mostly paperless.
The good news is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel! Green technologies are already available such as biodegradable packaging and reusable pouches, paperless and mobile shipment booking, and the option to engage shipping providers such as FedEx, which is committed to achieve carbon neutrality in its global operations y 2040.
2. Give back to the community
SMEs can enhance their brand by creating meaningful relationships and making an impact. We’ve seen this during the pandemic. Despite their struggles, small businesses stepped up to support their local communities - organizing food drives for front-liners and vulnerable groups, giving supplies to community groceries, and providing free services for those in need.
Businesses can also start a social-impact conversation with their customers and invite them to join their cause. Many citizens are looking for ways to contribute but aren’t sure where to start. You as a business can lead by example: providing practical steps and a platform where your customers can help.
3. Create job opportunities for locals
Many businesses were forced to shut down during the pandemic, resulting in millions of jobs lost - especially in hard-hit industries like tourism, retail and construction.
The unemployment rate in APAC is at 4.1%, with Southern Asia and Eastern Asia having a higher unemployment rate compared to South-Eastern Asia and the Pacific. Women, migrants, and daily wage workers were hit the hardest.
At Prosperna, from a recruitment perspective, we look for alignment on purpose and values first. And then we look at what a candidate can bring to the table. We hire based on who the person could become, instead of their work experience or educational background.
4. Pioneer innovation and forward-thinking
Small businesses understand the value of emphasizing convenience and eliminating inconveniences. It’s no surprise to hear startups from developing markets finding better and more sustainable solutions to bring greater efficiencies .
One stellar example is the rise of the fintech industry. APAC has over 1,230 fintech apps and a total of 2.7 billion installs between Q1 2019 and Q1 2021. Their innovative solutions to help those who are tech-literate but do not have access to traditional banking resulted in a more convenient and affordable way of doing financial transactions.
5. Stewardship is key to sustainability
Learn what other businesses are doing and see what you can adapt for your own.
FedEx, for example, has significantly reduced its carbon footprint using a Reduce, Replace, and Revolutionize approach. From automating air waybills to offering online shipment forms to modernizing aircraft to reduce emissions: the quest to find innovative and sustainable solutions never stops. FedEx has introduced a number of measures to fulfil its ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2040, including testing last-mile delivery solutions such as RoxoTM, the SameDay Bot®, and partnering with autonomous technology companies such as Neolix in China to embrace sustainable and intelligent logistics solutions.
Remember – whether your business is big or small, it takes a collective effort from governments, businesses, and individuals to create a better future for all and the generations to come. It’s everyone’s responsibility to rethink how we can fulfill our needs and expand the economy while simultaneously protecting our planet.
For more info on sustainability tips and best practices, visit the sustainability section here.
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