For the last five years Moral Fairground has held a conference at Melbourne University on issues of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Associated with the Conference, they have launched a competition for Australian groups involved in national and international ethical enterprises. Kokonut Pacific submitted an application in August and in October learnt that we were among nine Finalists. Richard and Dan attended the Conference on 25th and 26th October along with other finalists, sponsors and supporters.
The theme of this year’s conference was: Future Proofing for Purpose, Sustainable Growth and Impact. It was hosted by Ben Neville, Associate Professor, Faculty of Business & Economics and Director of the Faculty’s Asia Pacific Social Impact Centre. He explained that ‘If rising inequality, modern slavery and climate change weren’t enough, the banking royal commission has laid bare the ills of short-term profit maximisation. The imperative for ethical and sustainable business has never been greater. Luckily, ethical enterprises are forging the way ahead, busting traditional business models, and providing a vision for the pathway forward.’
The Conference was very well organised from the theme-setting address by Professor Dirk Matten (from York University, Toronto, Canada) on The Global State of CSR, through all the plenary sessions, the multiple workshops and the food! Ethical operations were seen as important not only in the supply side of production and services but critically in terms of demand through the procurement policies of large institutions and Government.
Opportunity was given in a competition for ‘start-up’ ethical entrepreneurs to present their ‘Pitch’ for support and recognition. ‘Breakout’ workshops were repeated as each session was limited to 15 to 20 people. There was a continuing buzz of interaction by participants through both days. This was true of the Plenary sessions as well. The session on the second day which included Scott Fry (our Loving Earth customer), Peta Granger of LUSH and Kaushik Sridhar of Regis Healthcare, was particularly insightful in regard to spending significant resources on finding the right partners and locations for expansion and the maintenance of USPs. As somebody said, the important point is not what you sell but what you stand for.
The formal Awards Dinner, held on the first evening, was preceded by some fun Latin American community dancing! Early in the dinner, judges presented their assessments of the ‘start-up’ pitches. We were particularly inspired by an App designed by a newcomer to help new migrants find their way through Australian systems and regulations. This app is multilingual and also assists language groups find one another across cities and States (ConnectionsAustralia.com).
Prior to the announcement of the Annual Awards, the finalists each gave a 3-minute pitch. They were all very impressive including our presentation by Richard. We were not surprised when Third place went to VOPO (www.vopo.earth) and Second prize went to i=change (www.iequalchange.com) but were stunned when Kokonut Pacific was announced as the overall winner. In our thanks to Moral Fairground we dedicated the $10,000 award towards the challenge of transforming the residual coconut meal from the DME process from just ‘stock-feed’ to a sought-after local edible food.