There’s a lot of talk about making money, disruption, and disrupting industries in the startup industry in Southeast Asia. What we rarely talk about are startups and innovators looking to actually do social good in the region.
So, we thought why not shine a spotlight on some great companies trying to help people and do good instead of looking for profit.
Here are five great companies in Southeast Asia helping communities and basically being better human beings than us.
Started in 2014, WaterROAM is a Singaporean water innovation enterprise founded to develop water filtration solutions that bring about the quickest access to clean drinking water at disaster-hit locations.
Primarily focused on water filters that are designed to be highly simple, portable, durable, and affordable, WaterROAM is looking to improve access to clean drinking water significantly. According to their website, WateROAM works with NGOs, companies engaging in corporate social responsibility (CSR) & shared-value activities, and government bodies to help eliminate water scarcity and poor water sanitation in the world.
Zó project (Vietnam)
Zó project is a Vietnamese social business, which is focused on preserving, supporting and expanding the local Vietnamese traditional paper and techniques to produce it in a sustainable and creative way.
Founder and entrepreneur, Tran Hong Nhung first came up with the idea after hearing about DO paper or local Vietnamese traditional paper. She left her job and setup Zó, which now has a dynamic and young team who wish to bring traditional values into modern society. By marketing and selling the products developed by the traditional makers, she puts profits back to the community to create job opportunities and stable income for the ethnic minority village in the Northern province of Vietnam.
Support local makers and communities here.
Chapter W (Indonesia and Singapore)
Formally Nusantara Development Initiatives, or NDI, they rebranded to Chapter W. Their mission hasn’t changed though.
By empowering rural Indonesian women to solar lamp entrepreneurs, Chapter W brings light to rural households that have limited access to electricity. Through their solar-powered lamps, children of these households can study and play in safe environments, which would lay the foundation for the empowerment of future generations.
Donate or buy their lamps here.
Probably the most innovative out of the lot, FunkyJunk is focused on making beautiful, functional, long-lasting items from used plastic bags reclaimed from streets and fields. They hope this will help them create a cleaner environment and income for some of the least-privileged communities on the planet.
Buy their cool products here.
Freedom Cups (Singapore and Asia-wide)
Freedom Cups are medical-grade silicone cups used to collect menstrual blood and can be likened to a “reusable tampon” according to their website. Apparently, a single Freedom Cup can be used for up to 15 years. A woman would use about 5000 disposable sanitary products during that same period, so this has a profound impact on the environment.
For every reusable menstrual cup purchased Freedom Cup gives a menstrual cup to a woman in an underprivileged community. This helps women in developing communities gain access to proper sanitation for their periods as well as reduces non-bio-degradable waste in developed communities.
To help women across Asia, purchase their products here.
If you know other great social entrepreneurs and startups across Southeast Asia, let us know and we’ll do a Part 2. Drop us an email here.