Visitors looking through products brought by Handep, a social enterprise based in Kalimantan that supports the livelihood of Dayak women and farmers. Image: Wardi Wasil

React is creating an e-commerce platform to connect social enterprises across Borneo to the rest of the world.

The local startup reached a major milestone last week by organising its first offline event dubbed the Conscious Marketplace at Avenue 41 in Kiarong – which saw the presence of various social enterprises from Brunei and Kalimantan.

The participating vendors include Eco Ponies Garden, The Food Jungle, The Wildflower, Suitable Reusables, Kommunihub, Helping Hands Penan and Kalimantan’s Handep.

A visitor looking through products available at the Conscious Marketplace. Image: Wardi Wasil

“This (offline marketplace) allows us to see whether there is a market for these products in the country, and if Bruneians are ready to buy things that have a purpose behind them,” said the founder, Shirley Sikun in an interview with The Bruneian.

“The common thread that connects all these companies today is that they work alongside rural communities and support them, all the while pushing for sustainability in whatever activities that they do”.

Founder of React, Shirley Sikun (L) posing for a photo with Co-founders; Nazurah Salleh (C) and Fatin Muzini (R) during the Conscious Marketplace. Image: Wardi Wasil

With only five vendors for their first event, React wanted the marketplace to have an “intimate feel”, allowing vendors to connect their stories well with their consumers.

“We registered our company in December last year. From then until now we have been trying to build up an online following of sorts, starting by telling stories of the people behind these businesses; interviewing them and posting their journeys on our website and social media”.

For Shirley, the ultimate goal is to have an online platform the likes of Amazon which gives focus on socially conscious products coming from Borneo. This is also to help social enterprises grow their markets by looking beyond Brunei.

Shirley went on to say that they are currently looking for a tech partner to help them shape their online platform, while also hoping to get to know more social enterprises across Borneo, particularly in Sabah and Sarawak.

Visitors during the React’s Conscious Marketplace inspecting some of the vendors’ products. Image: Wardi Wasil

“I think most people today are getting more conscious (of what they consumed); they want to know where their products came from to see whether (its manufacture) are ethical or sustainable, which is quite refreshing for us,” she said.

“We want everyone to have this mindset and realise that every choice you make has an impact on your surroundings. It is good to think about these choices and work to minimise our impact onto the world,”

Co-founder of Kommunihub, Irene Chow speaking to a visitor during the Conscious Marketplace. Image: Wardi Wasil

“I hope we will be able to organise similar events in the future, but on a bigger scale. The key to doing that however, is to first build relationships with more of these enterprises,” added Shirley.

Additionally, React had also pledged a portion of their proceeds to fund international climate protection projects via Myclimate foundation, in its bid to compensate for any carbon emissions produced during the Conscious Marketplace.

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

Advertisements