Symphony Chu is the founder of the ImpactShop, a social enterprise committed to solving world hunger starting from Singapore.
An avid traveller with a love for exploring hidden places in Southeast Asia, she is drawn to the fascinating cultures of different ethnic groups. When she learnt about the severity of hunger issues in Singapore and Laos, she started her social entrepreneurial journey, where the purchase of lifestyle products from her shop provides meals for the needy.
Let’s dive into her story and mission to end hunger!
What inspired you to start the ImpactShop?
It is mainly my past experience of witnessing hunger issues that inspired me to start Impactshop. Apart from my experience in Laos, I realise there were Singaporeans who could only afford one meal a day while volunteering with a local food charity. These experiences are what motivates me to start a social enterprise that helps to end hunger issues.
I also see ImpactShop as a personal challenge to give back at a younger age. The brand was born during the pandemic crisis with a strong belief: “One who dares to give during the uncertain times will give during the good times.” This makes giving as an act of courage which is one of the values that the brand upholds. #daretocare #daretogive. I hope to inspire individuals to experience the art of giving and be daring enough to care for the underprivileged despite uncertain times.
The brand pledges to fight world hunger with every purchase. This empowers our supporters to experience the joy of giving meals while shopping for quality lifestyle products.
How do you create social impact?
We fight against hunger by raising funds for meals for local charities with practical and functional products like masks.
For instance, our first initiative, Mask for Meal, helps a local charity raise funds and provide healthy meals to people in need, one mask at a time. By giving away more than 30% of our profits to local food charities we believe in, we strive to reduce the number of local hunger issues sustainably. As of Oct 2021, we contributed more than 2000 meals to the local needy people and aim to provide more meals moving forward!
How was Mask for Meal born?
Laos opens my eyes to hunger issue. I was working with a social enterprise backed then in Laos and given the opportunity to live with the Lao ethnic groups to learn their culture and traditions. As we distribute food to the ethnic minorities during our visit, I felt their sense of desperation for food as both children and adults were snatching for the food we distributed. My feeling intensified as I saw children biting on plastic caps.
This exposure made me rethink the severity of hunger issues and inspired me to end hunger issues with my existing skill sets, starting from our homeland, Singapore.
Tell us more about Contactless masks.
Contactless mask is produced by a social enterprise in Laos. The mask’s fabric is environment friendly and approved by global leading certifications such as SGS and Intertek for its effectiveness in killing germs and antibacterial protection. The product is designed with key features such as antibacterial, anti-odour, anti-acne, UV protection, together with a lanyard design. Unlike other reusable masks which only can wash up to 30 times, its antibacterial properties are proven to sustain at least 150 washes.
I spent a lot of time considering the functionality of Contactless masks. More than sustainability, I wanted to ensure that mask wearers can breathe comfortably without gasping for air. I [went on] to prove the breathability of the mask by doing a HITT (High-intensity interval training) workout with my mask on, and am very confident to say that my masks have high breathability.
Her mission doesn’t stop here.
Spurred on by her resolve to help enthnic minorities in Laos, she went on to expand her other lines of merchandise – handcrafted key holders and jungle vine sling bags.
These lifestyle products are made with organic and naturally dyed cotton by the Hmong and Khmu ethnic women living in Laos. Each purchase empowers Laotian women to earn a living with their traditional skills, while providing one meal to children in need.
What projects are Impactshop working on now?
We have been focusing on our efforts to solve local food security issues through selling durable multi-feature antibacterial masks. We have also recently brought in Lao artisan-made products to increase the impact of each customer purchase. Through the sale of our artisan-made products, customers will not only provide meals to the underprivileged but also provide sustainable livelihoods for our artisan partners and their families.