Hong Leong Bank (“the Bank”) employees together with its customers stepped forward in full force and donated more than 5,600 kilograms of surplus food in support of the week-long Food Surplus Donation Drive, organised by the Bank at all its 256 branches nationwide between 29 April to 3 May 2019. An estimated 22,400 people will benefit from the donated surplus food that would be channeled to various charitable organisations and food kitchens across the country.
The awareness campaign and donation drive was initiated to create awareness of food wastage in Malaysia following the Bank’s recent partnership via its CSR platform, HLB Jumpstart with Green Hero, a Penang based social enterprise founded by a group of youth with a vision of turning excess food from F&B, grocery operators, and households into a social business with a good cause, and in doing so to combat and eradicate food waste in Malaysia within five years.
Food waste is food fit for human consumption, but is discarded and left to spoil by retailers or consumers. Across Malaysia, almost 3,000 metric tonnes of perfectly edible food is wasted every day. This struck a nerve for Calvin Chan, the founder of Green Hero, after witnessing how F&B outlets are faced with little choice but to discard significant amounts of still-edible food every day.
Chan said, “In Penang alone, a staggering 700,000 kilograms of food is wasted daily with hotels, restaurants and catering businesses identified as the biggest contributors. Seeing so much good food getting thrown out really broke my heart especially when, as students on tight budget, we were looking out for more F&B outlets that would give discounts at night for unsold food. I knew there was an opportunity to solve the problem of food wastage and providing affordable meals to those who need them, so I created a platform for F&B outlets to make good of their surplus food which benefits both outlets and customers”.
Calvin and his team of like-minded green activists set up Green Hero while still in college in 2016 and have helped more than 70 cafés and restaurants in solving their food surplus problem – equivalent to 23,000 kilograms of excess food. Through social media, they set up an online channel to sell surplus food including sushi, bread, cakes, pastries, bento boxes and even groceries at discounted prices to a ready pool of consumers including college and university students, people struggling on a tight budget and other green activists.
Inspired by strong demand and decent revenue as a small start-up, Green Hero has set their sights to expand out of Penang, looking into other cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru. Efforts by HLB are now underway to help Green Hero to achieve this through HLB Jumpstart where the Bank will be providing them with sustainable smart business technology to achieve their dream to reduce food waste across Malaysia. HLB Jumpstart, launched in September 2018 aims to build a sustainable Malaysia through its five pillars: financial knowledge, tools and digitisation, branding and marketing, commercialization, and volunteering.
Domenic Fuda, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Hong Leong Bank, said, “As a Bank with a deep rooted entrepreneurship DNA, we are very inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit and thoughtfulness of these remarkable youth who are trying to do their part to save the environment whilst benefiting the communities by providing them access to purchase affordable food as well as to receive donated food. Green Hero has the potential to be a successful social enterprise as the cause has great impact on people. Our role at the Bank is to help them build a viable business model that can help reduce food wastage and to spread awareness on this relatively less-prominent subject. This approach is also in line with our own sustainability initiatives, and provides us with an opportunity to collaborate with a promising social enterprise towards playing a larger role in improving our society and the environment around us.”
Zalman Zainal, Chief Marketing and Communication Officer of Hong Leong Bank, said, “As much as it is our aim to help build a thriving social enterprise industry, it is also our civic duty to move strongly on social awareness starting from within Hong Leong Bank itself, from our own employees and extending it to our customers. To collect 5,600 kilograms of food in just a week and potentially feeding 22,400 people proves that each and every one of us can make a difference to the environment as well as the communities around us. We thank our customers for taking up the challenge to turn their surplus food into a good cause and we hope through this campaign, they can become food heroes in their own communities as well.”
HLB Jumpstart will continue to support and guide social enterprises as part of the Bank’s efforts towards building a sustainable Malaysia. Social Enterprises that are looking for support in sustaining their cause and business can write in to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.hlb.com.my/en/personal-banking/about-us/csr.html