More than three years since we started the Most Valuable Business initiative, it becomes clearer than ever how sustainable living is the way to the future. Working hand in hand with many institutions – from small enterprises to large corporations – we have strived to amplify that belief while continuing to highlight, encourage and publicize businesses that are trying to do the right thing. Our following partners have it right. Read on to learn more about their stories.
AVANI Eco: Bye Bye Plastics
In a country deemed second most responsible in the world for dumping massive amounts of plastic into the ocean, plastic waste is a major concern. Every day, there are about 5,000 kilometers of plastic being discarded in Indonesia – the equivalent distance of Jakarta to Sydney.
As the saying goes, a journey starts with a single step. Taking matters into their own hands, Kevin Kumala and David Rosenqvist founded Avani, a social enterprise aimed at raising awareness of the problem, driving real action and finding solutions to plastic waste.
Since its establishment in 2014, the people at Avani have dedicated themselves to replacing disposable plastic products with sustainable materials made from all-natural resources.
Trained in biology and with a passion for the environment, Kumala spearheaded Avani’s initial project to create ecofriendly rain ponchos from corn, soy and sunflowers. Through intense research that employed advanced technology, the plant-based ponchos then become the social enterprise’s first biodegradable product. Success soon followed and businesses began paying attention. The team at Avani then launched more products – ranging from paper straws to soup bowls, cutlery, takeaway coffee cups and shopping bags – and marketed them to prominent hotels, restaurants and coffee shops. Figures show that since early 2016, Avani has managed to replace 955.7 cubic meters in volume or 131.5 tons of otherwise hazardous and unsustainable materials.
Never easily satisfied, Kumala and his colleagues keep themselves busy looking for more green inspirations as they engage in wider campaigns to promote sustainability among businesses.
Singapore Intercultural School (SIS): Be The Change You Want
Empowering learners to achieve their full potential from a world-class, well rounded and innovative educational experience – such has been the vision of SIS Group of Schools, formerly known as Singapore International Schools, since its first establishment in Indonesia in 2002. That vision has since been turned into practical everyday programmes that shape each individual at the school to be the change that the world needs today.
One of their latest programmes was a mission trip to help under-privileged children in Cambodia. Erick Tanamal Wijaya, one of the participants, shared what he learned from the experience.
The Journey of a Thousand Laughs
“We are on this journey hunting for what we may become someday.”
That thought ran through our minds, all 21 of us, as we landed on Cambodian soil to take on the role of teaching volunteers.
We were in Wat Sway, right at the heart of Siem Reap. Located by a river, this place was to become our home for the next five days. The school we had offered to volunteer at charges quarterly tuition fees of USD 15. There, 150 children had been waiting for us to teach five basic subjects – English, Math, Science, Physical Educations (PE) and the Arts. For Science, we were going to have them experiment with density, grow green beans and create a volcano.
We had expected everything to run smoothly, until we realised that language was going to be a huge barrier. Teaching the school children in English would be akin to scaling Mt. Everest – not impossible, but improbable. After much effort to adapt the materials, we finally found common grounds. English was about simple words and sentence creation. Math was addition, subtraction of whole numbers, fractions, multiplication and division, Science was all about biology with twists of physics and chemistry. Physical Education will be, well, physical education. Lastly, Art was and will always be art.
Moving on from Wat Sway, we headed to PhumThnal Primary School, located by the highway. Here, our job was to flatten out the sand and lay down a pavement made out of hexagon-shaped concrete. It was a task that truly tested our limits both physically and mentally. However, we pushed forward, keeping in mind that we were doing something good for the people.
All good things have to come to an end. Following an array of activities and visits – the silk factory, Angkor Wat, the cooking class and the Phare circus – it was time for us to depart. Thank you Cambodia for a journey full of soul-enriching experiences. We returned home more determined than ever that it’s up to us to be the change the world needs today.