Agricultural Waste

Upcycling Agricultural Waste in China | Teck Tin Wong, RenewMaterial

In this episode of Entrepreneurs For Good, I speak with Teck Tin Wong, Founder of Renew Material. A firm upcycling agricultural waste into a wide range of construction materials.

It is a fantastic conversation that is packed full of insights about being persistent in solving a problem, his process for product development, and having a long term vision for change. Even in the face of a "one-in-a-century" event like COVID19.

 

About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series:

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market

About TT:

See the that as the world's economies advance pollution has became a real danger, Teck Tin (TT) saw the opportunity to save millions of trees for many generations to come by founding RenewMaterial.

Renew Material specialises in the design, development, and manufacture of environmentally friendly materials and products for a wide range of application. Its products are made from up to 95 per cent agricultural fibres such as rice stalks, wheat stalks, and bamboo waste, and can be customised for different textures and colours that are ideal for furniture, flooring, wall tiles, decorative panels,

Prior to founding RenewMaterial, TT worked as a Corporate Development Manager at Hong Leong Asia and was involved in various startup projects in the Asia Pacific region. In 2007, TT moved to China to develop a technology that converts agricultural straws to a new green material as an alternative to wood that is now patented worldwide and has won multiple international awards including the Asia Packaging Award and World Packaging Award.

Follow TT:

Website: https://www.renewmaterial.com/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/teck-tin-wong/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tecktin.wong

About Rich:

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step.

Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich:

Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn Page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich:

social@richbrubaker.com


Disruptive Innovation

Accelerating Disruptive Innovation as an Impact Investor | Tom Schmittzehe, Moonshot Ventures

In this episode of Entrepreneurs For Good, I speak with Tom Schmittzehe of Moonshot Ventures about supporting entrepreneurs who are racing against the clock to develop and deploy products, services and platforms with disruptive Innovation against the the social, environmental, and economic challenges that are coming to scale in Asia.

In Tom's mind, we do not have any time to waste, and while he is always on the look out for disruptive entrepreneurs and business models to fund, he is also working hard to bring ideas to the market himself as well.

 

About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series:

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market

About Tom:

Tom has been working in impact investing and social finance since 2002, and in Asia since 2006. He has held leadership roles with several prominent organizations in this field, such as Ashoka, and among other was also the co-founder of Ennovent, a leading social business accelerator in South Asia. He is a long-serving mentor and coach to social entrepreneurs, and volunteers as a guest speaker or to help with social enterprise competitions.

Tom started his career in banking and strategy consulting, and has degrees from Oxford University (BA), the Wharton School (MBA – where he also studied at INSEAD), and the Harvard Kennedy School (MPA).

Follow Tom:

Website: https://www.moonshotventures.org/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomschmittzehe/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tom.schmittzehe

About Rich:

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step.

Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich:

Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn Page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich:

social@richbrubaker.com


Aspiring

An Aspiring Social Entrepreneur in Vietnam | Christopher Day

In this episode of Entrepreneurs For Good, I speak with aspiring entrepreneur Chris Day.

Based in Saigon, Chris is looking for a visionary who is looking to build a purposeful organization. One where his experience as a general manager, business developer, and all around solid #2 could help bring that vision to scale.

It is a conversation I believe many will find value in, particularly those who are considering establishing their own enterprise, are looking to identify/ work with a visionary entrepreneur, and what are the best tool sets needed for either approach.

... and if you are an aspiring entrepreneur, who is just starting your journey, and have any questions about the path that you are on, feel free to connect with me anytime via email or social.

Links are below!

 

About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series:

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market

About Chris:

 

Follow Chris:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christopher.day.edu/
LinkedIn Page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopherday1/

About Rich:

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step.

Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich:

Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn Page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich:

social@richbrubaker.comAn Aspiring Social Entrepreneur in Vietnam | Christopher Day


Plant-Based

Scaling Asia's Largest Plant-Based Lifestyle Brand | David Yeung, Green Commons

In this episode of Entrepreneurs For Good, I speak with the extraordinary David Yeung about his work to build and scale Asia's largest plant-based lifestyle brand.

CO-Founder of Green Common, he has experienced a period exponential growth over the last four years.  Growing from a small team who were stabilizing their first stores in Hong Kong, to a team of more than 400 that now has 10 stores in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore.

On top of that, they have also begun launching their own product lines under the OmniPork! brand, and are seeing phenomenal market excitement and growth across Asia... and beyond!

Through this time, David's work has been recognized by the Schwab Foundation, Ernst & Yong, PETA Asia, Time, and HK Tatler for his work, and he is regularly asked to speak at events around the world to speak about his vision for a sustainable future.

There are few mission driven entrepreneurs whose views are scale could me more inspiring, and educational, as David's, and I hope that you will enjoy our conversation.

 

About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series:

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market

About David:

David Yeung is an environmental advocate and founder of Green Monday, a Hong Kong-based social venture that takes on the world's most pressing crises of climate change, food insecurity and public health, shifting individuals, communities, and corporations towards sustainable, healthy, and mindful living.

Follow David and Green Commons:

Website: http://www.greencommon.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/davidyeung.hk
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-yeung-77094b1/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/green_common

About Rich:

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step.

Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich:

Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn Page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich:

social@richbrubaker.com


social innovation podcasts

Recommended Social Innovation Podcasts

Over the last few years, as reading has taken a backseat to video, a large number of awesome social innovation podcasts have begun to spring up.  Many of which offer excellent insights, or interviews, on topics of sustainability, social innovation, and entrepreneurship.

The below is a list that I have put together, knowing full well that there are many others.

Change Creator: Better Business. Better Life. Better World. - By Adam Force
Channel Tagline: Redefining Good Business
Channel Overview: The best way to learn how to change the world with a business that matters is from game-changing entrepreneurs that already are. Listen in as Adam Force talks with some of the most impactful people on the planet to bring you their strategies and insights for success.

Most Recent Episodes:


The Voices of Social Change Podcast - By Joshua Schukman
Channel Tagline:
Channel Overview: Want to add a social mission to your business? Have a for purpose organization that you want to grow? Maybe you’re launching or have a dream of launching just such an organization??? If any of this fits you, then this podcast is for you!

Most Recent Episodes:


Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs - By Fergal Byrne
Channel Tagline:
Channel Overview: At Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, we talk to experienced and successful social entrepreneurs and change makers, committed to building a better world. Our aim is to share the inspiring stories, to explore the highs and the lows, learn how different social entrepreneurs have kept inspired, and draw out insights to help social entrepreneurs at all stages on their journey.

Most Recent Episodes:


Ethical Business - By Fair Marketeers
Channel Tagline: Inspiring People Doing Inspiring Things
Channel Overview: Every week, we interview a leading business mind to get the latest ideas and inspiration for reducing our impact on the world. No junk, just compelling stories about how they got to where they are and how you can learn from their experience.

Most Recent Episodes:


Positive Impact - By Alexandra Black-Paulick
Channel Tagline: Creating a Positive Impact on the World
Channel Overview: Movers and shakers across all industries looking to solve the world’s biggest problems through leveraging the power of business. Explore the countless different models and creative innovation that these changemakers deploy to help empower, motivate and inspire.

Most Recent Episodes:


Business With PurposeBy Molly

Most Recent Episodes:


Social Entrepreneur:- By Tony Loyd

Channel Tagline: Positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions.
Most Recent Episodes:


More Than Money
Channel Tagline: Business talk revisited. The podcast that challenges you to listen with your conscience.
Most Recent Episodes:


Global Goals Cast - By We Are All Human Foundation
Channel Tagline:
Channel Overview: Global GoalsCast is a podcast that inspires and empowers listeners to make the world a better place by sharing the stories individuals, companies, and organizations that are advancing and achieving a more sustainable world.
Most Recent Episodes:


The Bonfires of Social Enterprise - By Romy Kochan,
Channel Tagline: The Podcast show about social enterprise!
Channel Overview:  The Bonfires of Social Enterprise podcast began in March of 2015 with an intent to document the social enterprise development in Detroit. Host, Romy Kochan, began the journey with storytelling in mind.

Most Recent Episodes:


Stanford Social Innovation Review -
Channel Overview: Audio talks and lectures by leaders of social change

Most Recent Episodes:


one billion - By Civilla
Channel Overview: This podcast is an inside peek at their journey as they work to create positive impact in the lives of one billion people.   Stories are captured in real time and shared out weekly. Key themes include: civic leadership, social innovation, philanthropy, human-centered design, change work, government, and courageous leadership.

Most Recent Episodes:


Impact Boom -
Channel Overview: Impact Boom searches the globe to find the people, stories & inspiration to help you create maximum positive impact. We interview world-leading social innovators, entrepreneurs, changemakers, designers, educators, thinkers and doers who share Insights, ideas & inspiration. As long as these leaders are focusing their efforts on creating positive social and environmental change, we'll make sure you hear about it.

Most Recent Episodes:


Stop Complaining

Stop Complaining. Do Something.

From my recent speech Stop Complaining. Do Something. to the 2017 Hult Business School Graduates:

Congratulations graduates!

Students, families, guests, and faculty.  Thank you for inviting me to speak today at this amazing occasion.

I am entrepreneur focused on how cities are going to work in 2050, when we have 7+ billion people in them.

Which means, I spend my life looking at cities trying to understand the systems, where there is potential for failure, and more often than not, where it is already failing.

Some would say in these days, we are surround by it.  Politically, and with all trump jokes aside, for our generation the political landscape has probably never felt more unhinged.

Socially, with millions of migrants, internal and cross border, pouring into our cities every year, the greeting of our populations, and the cultural shifts that come with each generation, it's safe to say that ma Thanks ny of us don't feel that connected anymore.. except when we are sharing photos of food.

And environmentally.  Well, today looks like a nice day outside right?  But the pressure that our growing urban populations have place on our environments is well documented.

So yeah, according to the internet, it's a rough world out there.

But in my fifteen years in China, I have seen the potential of individuals in a way I never thought possible, and I have come to understand that in the face of challenge, there are three paths to take

Path 1, Complain.  Surround yourself with like minded people who complain about the world, the smog, or how tough the market is.  Dig into your solo. Feel anxious about where things are headed.  Talk about how "someone" else is messing it up.

There.  Doesn't that feel good?

Path 2: Talk about what you are ‘going to do’.

You have a killer app, an algorithm, and you are going to deploy meta data in way that will disrupt hundreds of years of existing infrastructure. People all over the world are going to choose your platform (over everyone else's).

You only need one percent of the market... any market… but before you get on that business plan, you need to finish the latest season of Lost.

Path 3: Do

The 5% of people I have met in shanghai.  The actual doers.  Inspired by the challenge, but no distracted.  Surrounded by other doers, because you no longer have time for the complainers and big talkers.

You have things to do, clients to nail down, teams of millenials to motivate, and cash flow to get under control.

Your major focus is on solving the problems people are complaining about, and figure out how to get someone to pay for it.  Because you are scratching your own itch. You are trying to change the system, even if in small ways.

You will find that in this process you will surround yourself great people.  You will find your own model for success.

This is in a nutshell what I have come to learn.  The world is a tough place, but if you get past the stage of complaining and talking unrealistically about your intentions, then you will find success.

So, class of 2017.  I congratulate you on your success to date.

Getting an EMBA isn’t easy, unless you make your staff do all your homework, but if nothing else you have already provide that you are capable of doing something.  So, with that, I urge you to find a pain point that you are challenged by, surround yourself with great people, and do.

Thank you.


Advice for Aspiring Social Entrepreneurs

Prior to his departure from Hong Kong, and SOW Asia, I was fortunate enough to catch up with Scott Lawson to talk about his 7 years in the social impact investment space.

More than an investor, Scott had become a trusted advisor, mentor, and thought leader to many in the space, and during our discussion he issued this warning to aspiring entrepreneurs.  It came as part of a wider discussion on the challenges that he has seen entrepreneurs face, and while it may seem like he is being a bit harsh or somehow looking to discourage people from jumping into the pool, the reality couldn't be different.  For him, and I invite you to watch the full interview, the world needs more entrepreneurs whose mission it is to being solutions to the challenges our societies, economies, and environments face.

Too often, people jump into this space without understanding just how tough being a "good" entrepreneur can be, and too often, they end up leaving. This is in part due to the fact that for the last decade there has been a bit of celebrity around the space.  and a generally perception that because you are a "good" person trying to "save the world" things will just happen.

The reality is that entering this space a very tough road.  One that is difficult and tiring at times, but one that is ultimately very rewarding if you are able to maintain course.  TO do so, there are a few things that I have come to understand are core requirements for (aspiring) entrepreneurs in this space to possess:

See the challenges as opportunities

The world is a crazy, disorganized, and at times disheartening mess at times, and for you to succeed as social (or socially minded) entrepreneur you are going to have have to put all that craziness aside, and find the opportunity for yourself to make a difference.

This doesn't mean that you emotionally turn off, but to be able to effectively focus your efforts on solving the problems, but if you let your emotions get out in front of your actions, you will begin to feel as if there is no way that you can get anything done..

Asia-Issue-Map

Have a Clear Mission, and a Passion for that Mission

To be able to deliver an organization whose products or services solve a real problem, you are going to have to make a very clear choice early on what your mission is, be it save the polar bears, deliver education to rural parts of India, solve the food wastage issue. It needs to be something that you can clearly articulate to others, and it has to be something that you yourself are deeply passionate about solving.

If you cannot clearly articulate your mission, or if the focus itself and what you hope to achieve in under 30 seconds then you are in for a challenge. A challenge that for many manifests into a confidence issue as traction takes time to take hold, and without the small wins to provide confidence, the initial fuel burst provided by passion burns off.

Get Out [and stay] of the Office

One of the biggest mistakes I see with aspiring entrepreneurs is that while they have a clear mission, the value proposition for the platform that they have created isn’t clear and they are not gaining any traction. 9 times out of 10, this is due to the fact they have not spent enough time learning about or working with the issue they are concerned.  It is not that their ideas are necessarily that far off, but people are impatient at a time when patience and depth of understanding is needed.

To the most effective way to do this is to step out from behind your computer get out into the real world.

Execute First. Talk Later

While we may live in a world where ideas are rewarded over impact, as an aspiring social entrepreneur, your mission should be for maximum impact not not to talk about how you are going to change the world and pick up awards for the most innovative ideas.

The work that you are doing, or are considering taking on, is about impact. it is about changing the lives of the (x) that you are trying to save from (y),

Build and Empower a Team

Besides having a clear mission, and a product or service with a strong value proposition, there is nothing more important to me than a strong team who is empowered to get things done.  For many entrepreneurs it is also one of the most difficult things to do, but for the organization to grow, the entrepreneur needs to be able to effectively bring in and empower the right people to take the organization forward.

Wrapping Up:

Leverage the power of entrepreneurship to do what you love ending what you hate can be a very rewarding endeavor. An endeavor full of challenges, it's my hope that for the aspiring entrepreneurs who are reading this,you will take the lesson here that while your passion and ideas are welcomed, your understanding of the challenges, you need to find a way to put yourself and your organization in a place to be able to execute on those ideas.


China Entrepreneur Fear

Fuck Fear

As an entrepreneur, I know that one of the greatest obstacles to be faced is one’s own fear. A step needs to be taken. There are million reasons why one should do something, and in the minds of an entrepreneur, there are often another million for why one can’t.

For some, this fear is a figment of their imagination, while for others it is a keen awareness of the challenge itself. It comes from the guts, buries itself deep into the deepest recesses of the brain, and for some it is paralyzing. To truly overcome it, there are no shortcuts.

A team needs to be built. A “minimal viable product” needs to be launched.

It is a process that I am at constant battle with, be it launching something new or working to improve one of the platforms or projects that are already out there, because as “the entrepreneur”, I often feel like every element needs to be perfect. Something that is perhaps less so with existing platforms, but when it comes to taking a new step, it really doesn’t get any easier.

For fear to be overtaken, a full step has to be taken.

With that in mind, I am happy to announce that with the launch of this post (and the video above it) a new project is ready.

It is a project that isn’t exactly new, as it is something I have been playing with and trying to get it "just right", but I realized that what I was doing was stalling.

It wasn't that the clips weren't ready. I wasn't. Something my good friend Brian Tam of Let's Make Great! called me out on during our interview, about the power of fear to paralyze.

So here it is, #Entrepreneurs4Good, a series of videos about entrepreneurs whose mission it is to solve the challenges faced and are gracious enough to share their stories about their work.

It is a project that for me has been really inspiring, and I honestly hope that you will be as inspired by these individuals as I have been. Inspired by their vision, their action, or just their raw courage to overcome their fears to take their first steps towards building organizations whose mission is to solve the challenges we face.
They are great people who are doing their best to do great things, and I hope that these clips do them justice!

A couple of requests.

  • If you are inspired by a particular story, or feel that others could be, please share with those who feel will be affected or interested by the clip!
  • If you know someone whose story you think could inspire others, please introduce me to them. My initial plan is to cover the APAC region, but as my travels take me to other parts of the world, I will be taking time out to meet people and you introductions would be extremely valuable.

With that, I hope that you will enjoy (or already have enjoyed) the clip .. and if you'd like to see more, please visit my Youtube Channel.

Hope all is well and have a great weekend!

Rich


Apathy Employee Sustinability

Why Doesn't Your Team Care?

Have you ever been half way through the rollout of a new program, or been in the planning phases of something you were excited about, but your local team wasn't responding ... at all.

If so, I invite you to head over to Corporate Citizenship, to read my latest article Why top-down sustainability strategies are often doomed to fail where I speak about a key challenge that many firms face in executing on their sustainability goals:

For many global firms, engaging local stakeholders, particularly employees, has been a challenge. This has stymied the rollout of sustainable visions and programs, and left many a sustainability director asking whether or not their people “care”. This disconnect highlights not only the difficulties of communication between global headquarters and regional business units, but more importantly, the different realities that are faced by individuals at each level.

It is a topic that my team and I have been studying for a while now, and in addition to identifying key areas of divergence, we have also been developing strategies and training modules to help create bridges of tangibility that tie global and local teams together.

Some of the key lessons I have shared in the article.  Which you can click here to read.


Dow Agriculture food

Food and Sustainability in China

As part of my recent US trip, I was given the opportunity to fly to Indianapolis to give two presentations to DOW Agriculture leadership and sustainability teams on the sustainability and the future of food in China. As one of the largest firms in the food & agricultural sector, and one whose products extend throughout the food & agricultural value chain, I covered a wide range of important issues that are not only being faced by China, but by the world going forward to 2050, and the resulting conversations were nothing short of fantastic.

Given these are THE critical issues being faced, and will only grow in size over the next 25 years, it is important to create open dialogues with those who are both exposed to the challenges and seek to develop the solutions that solve them.

Key questions covered a range of issues of strategic importance, with the following being the most discussed:

  1. How does China define sustainability, what are the key issues of concern, and what/who are the catalysts for change?
  2. What are the megatrends that are driving consumer demand in China, and what will be the resulting "foodprint" of China’s plans to urbanize another 250 million people?
  3. What are the challenges of China’s farmers, processors, and brands to deliver safe and affordable foods at the quantities needed, and what are the short term stop gaps that will be needed to overcome those challenges?
  4. What are the key concerns of consumers, what are the perceived/real risks that they face, and what are the actions they take as a result?
  5. Who are the key stakeholders, and how are brands effectively engaging with stakeholders to better understand the needs of the market and develop solutions specific for China?

As with many groups that I meet with, a lot of time was spent really helping the people I was meeting with understand not only the urgency of the situation, but also how the systems themselves are wired differently. That, while the US and EU are largely more resilient to the range of shocks that are on their way, in the world's developing nations a confluence of rising demand and increasingly unstable supplies should be the critical focal point. Not just in the fact that it could potentially lead to disaster, but that it is itself the opportunity that they are looking for.

Just as it will be for the vertical farmers I visited.