A Day Of Living Consciously In Taiwan

A new day has begun in Taipei. It’s time to put on your environmental friendly Wildgreen T-shirt, made with organic cotton, free of pesticide and artificial dye.

Before leaving for work, don’t forget to call Duofu Care & Services to book an accessible bus (or barrier-free bus) for your grandpa who twisted his ankle. Duofu can help him with his follow-on visit with his doctor.

After a productive morning, you decide to lunch at “Enjoy” Café, operated by Victory Potential Development Center for the Disabled. The café hires the disabled and provides a well-designed training and coaching system that aims to develop each employers’ potential. Even the interior design is inclusive and has facilities that are handicapped-friendly.

Back in the office, you join a conference that focuses on how to allocate your Corporate Social Responsibility budget to support social enterprises. There are already good cases like Joy & Hope Wheat, supported by Lien Hua Industrial cooperation’s production technique.

Manna Café, owned by O-power social enterprise(光原社企),  has received a special loan from DBS Bank, allowing Manna to deliver fresh farm products grown in Ali Mountain to cities like Taipei.

On your way home, you buy the latest “The Big Issue” magazine from venders who were once homeless or people who didn’t have access to mainstream jobs. You won’t be able to find The Big Issue in traditional distribution channels, all issues are sold by their own venders on the street. The magazine covers diverse content from finance, design and social trends, and is operated as a social enterprise that creates employment opportunities for those in need. This is definitely a good example of ‘buying works better than giving donations.’

Evening arrives and your order from “Farm Direct Market” is already waiting for you at home. Farm Direct is an online market that delivers farm produce within 30 km from your location. All the items sold online include information that allows you to trace back to the origin of the products to its real source. The shopping website comes with a recipe recommendation that makes it even easier for you to decide what to cook for dinner.

Before going to bed, the idea to plan your annual trip pops up in your mind. You’ve been thinking about taking part in ELIV’s international volunteer group for a long time. You make up your mind that it’s time to take action this summer.

In Taiwan, these innovative social start-ups are widely recognized as social enterprises. This growing start-up trend is gradually infiltrating different aspects of our daily life. They are pursuing a shared and Gung-Ho (共好) future. They are showing good examples of how running a social enterprise could mean more than just meeting revenue targets, and that there are more stories to be discovered.

Agricultural innovations and empowering vulnerable community are two of the most developed and well-constructed social industry fields in Taiwan. A fast-growing community, including existing companies like OKO Green, Duofu Care & Services and ELIV, as well as potential social innovative clubs led by students, and new winners of social venture challenges, is reshaping the ecosystem of social businesses here. The following are examples of how joint resources have created strong support behind the scenes:

2006 - Social Enterprise Development Association

2007 - Taiwan Social Enterprise Innovation and Entrepreneurship Society Research Center founded in Fu-Jen Catholic University

2007 - Flow: First social venture capitalist in Taiwan

2007 - First social venture challenge in Taiwan held by Flow

2010 - Taiwan Social Enterprise Innovation and Entrepreneurship Society Association in Fu-Jen Catholic University

2010 - First Social enterprise student club Net Impact was founded in National Taiwan University

2011 - Living Water Social Venture Fund established

2011 - Governmental Office of Socio-Economic Development is founded under Workforce development agency

2012 - Social Enterprise Insights: First mandarin language social enterprise information portal online

2013 - First Master program in Social enterprise in Fu-Jen Catholic University

2013 - Draft Benefit Corporation Law initiated by the private sector

Social enterprises encompass a unique purpose that aims to achieve both business goals and social responsibilities.

It has overturned how traditional enterprises are typically scaled and funded, and the integrations between tech, social media and global village have become an iconic industry trait.

Read the original mandarin version of the article here.

[Photo Courtesy: SE Insights, Taiwan]


 If you want to find more about socially conscious living in Asia, check out Asia For Good's social enterprise directory.

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