UNDP partners with MYSC on building business partnerships to advance the sustainable development goals

Feb 22, 2016

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development (IICPSD) and UNDP Seoul Policy Center (USPC) have partnered with the Merry Year Social Company (MYSC), who hosted the “1st Roundtable: Building Business Partnerships for Sustainable Development Goals” today in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

MYSC is the first social impact consultancy in the country, and uniquely serves as a bridge between social enterprises and corporations looking to expand their impact through investment and collaboration. MYSC works with clients ranging from Samsung to the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to help drive innovation and foster a social enterprise ecosystem within Korea.

The Roundtable was an invitation-only event that brought together 40 representatives from leading social enterprises, business associations, and the government working to achieve the SDGs and promote inclusive business models in Korea. The Founding Members of the Inclusive Business Community in Korea (IBCK), consisting of ten social enterprises in the process of scaling their impact, also took part in the meeting.

The social enterprises that make up the Founding Members include, for example, TreePlanet, a social enterprise that plants trees through crowd funding, and meets SDG 13 (Climate Action) and 15 (Life on Land) through its planting of trees in reforestation areas, oasis areas, developing countries, and cities, meeting targets to prevent global warming and purify air as well as restore forests and ecosystems.

Additional social enterprises include Enlighten, which up-cycles discarded batteries to provide power for cell phones, which is looking to expand to solar panel and targets SDG 7 (Energy) and 13 (Climate Action). Together, the Founding Members of the IBCK target 11 of the 17 SDGs.

The bottom-up approach to social enterprises makes them swifter and more agile than large corporations, allowing them to develop innovative business models that can achieve the SDG targets. Social enterprises have proven to be a practical mechanism for achieving systems change that drives more sustainable development. With 3% of the Korean GDP estimated to be part of the social economy, the creativity and innovation to solving sustainable development challenges has incredible potential.

The event facilitated discussions on translating the SDGs into actionable opportunities for inclusive businesses in Korea to increase collaboration between social enterprises and the private sector. In the past, MYSC has successfully brought together businesses such as the E-Land Group and ByMom, a social enterprise, to expand the indoor tent market to decrease carbon emissions, aligning business objectives with development goals.

“Private sector is a valuable – and valued – partner in our collective efforts to support sustainable development around the world. However, to make a real difference, private sector core business activities need to be aligned with the SDGs and go beyond Corporate Social Responsibilities,” said Marcos Neto, Director of UNDP IICPSD. “By connecting poor people to markets, inclusive businesses directly improve the lives of the poor by making them part of the value chain of companies’ core business as suppliers, distributors, retailers, or customers.”

 “It is important for us to support inclusive markets and business approaches, and to engage with the private sector to achieve long-term positive outcomes on inclusive and sustainable growth,” said Mr. Artemy Izmestiev, USPC’s Policy Specialist in his opening remarks.

UNDP’s global private sector portfolio, led by the Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development, helps businesses become a transformative partner for sustainable development. The Center promotes sustainable and inclusive businesses models and policies, encourages skills development, and facilitates impact investment.

Diana Won of MYSC remarked: “The launch of the IBCK, in partnership with UNDP, will renew energy around the SDGs in Korea and provide an actionable agenda for social enterprises in development to meet critical gaps in traditional development methods.”

The event marked the first in a series that will promote inclusive business opportunities within Korea. A second follow-up conference in April will build upon the connections made among social enterprises by engaging corporations interested in sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives to scale the impact of social enterprises in meeting the SDG targets through corporate venturing.

Contact information

For additional information, please contact Ms. Hye-Jin Park in Seoul at hyejin.park@undp.org or +82 (2) 3290 5199