Dec 10, 2022 10:30 AM

Weekend Long Read: Meet the Entrepreneurs Aiming to Fix Society’s Problems

Editor’s note: Impact investment and social enterprise have become buzzwords in China in recent years, together with a growing movement toward promoting environment, social and governance (ESG) in the corporate world.

The idea of a social enterprise was first introduced to China in 2007. Over the last 15 years, its scale has expanded from nonprofits to corporations of all sizes, and has now gained support from investors.

“The landscape has completely changed,” said Xu Yongguang, a leading philanthropist in China, noting that the driving force in solving social issues has gone beyond “vanguard” charity foundations. “Now the mainstream are corporations and investors.”

On Dec. 1, the China Social Enterprise and Impact Investing Forum (CSEIF) announced the winners of this year’s For Good Awards, which aim to recognize best practices in creating social and environmental value among individuals, businesses and capital investments. It’s the fifth year that CSEIF has presented the For Good Awards, in collaboration with Caixin Global.

Entries for the award offer a glimpse at the social innovation and creativity of businesses happening in China today. They include providing health care for the elderly, affordable housing for the young, financial stability for migrant workers and a greener environment for all. Together they show how grassroots resilience and market forces can be harnessed to solve the problems of an immense transitional society.

The pandemic has further raised the social demand. Xu, one of the founders of the award, said projects in carbon emission reduction, senior citizen health, and rural agriculture could see potential growth for impact investment in the future, as the government puts greater emphasis on establishing ESG standards for businesses.

We are spotlighting six of this year’s For Good Award winners — all leaders in industries ranging from health insurance to recycling. Each is making an impact in their own way.

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