• Jarratt Ong

MBF: Sustainable Sourcing Simplified

Sustainable fashion in a world of fast fashion isn't an easy task. From being a small fashion company that was hit by COVID 19 and was saved by their small line of sustainable material products, MBF found a second chance, in a world of powered by data, through their sustainability reports on which sustainability supply chain is best to meet ESG sustainability needs.


From starting off with sustainable women and mens clothing to making sturdy laptop bags for clients, MBF aims to be your corporate's one-stop solution to sustainable procurement and sustainable supply through these creative sustainable gift ideas.



What's amazing about MBF is that they have a wide range of experiences when it comes with working with businesses to nudge them into making easy switches to sustainable products through corporate gifts, packaging, apparels, and complementary services such as recycling initiatives and carbon/water footprint reports.


From what is traditionally used, such as cotton or polyester, to bamboo, the switch is easy with MBF!


Their materials are certified under globally-recognised standards for sustainable and ethical production for the ease of mind.



Interseed had the pleasure of sitting down with Johann and Keith to pick their brains about MBF's journey thus far!



What makes MBF's commitment to sustainability unique is their understanding that sustainability is not a one-size-fits-all.


It requires a special kind of procurement that reaches different clients, in different industries, with different needs, and their team jumps at opportunities to go beyond existing product and services to make it happen for their clients.



Despite being a young-startup, they have won numerous awards from the National Youth Entrepreneurship Award, DRLI, Sustainable Business Awards (won two pillars: Waste Productivity and Materiality as well as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals), and from Entrepreneurs' Organization.


That really gave the team a huge validation for the kind of work that they do in terms of sustainability, in terms of business and how they can deliver these values to their clients.


Let's check out the journey behind MBF!



Introducing Johann Wah, Glen Ang, Hwy Kim, and Keith Wo! MBF is started by four university students, and they're all really good friends.


To Johann, the co-founder, MBF is a simple and humble business aiming to simplify sustainable B2B procurement.


What happens is that a company would approach them about the areas that they want to be more sustainable in, typically product related such as apparels or for example laptop bags being recycled polyester, and the team leverages on their sustainable supply chains to ensure that the products are certified.



A lot of it was powered by Keith who compiled research, and data points for specific things such as comparing how much bamboo saves in water and carbon in comparison to using traditional cotton that comes in a nice report for clients.


Keith also encouraged Johann, through taking sustainability classes at Yale-NUS, to embark MBF on a journey of being more than just another fashion company by embracing the sustainability movement.


If anything else, if the fashion company did not focus on sustainability, Keith was planning on leaving at some point!


And in a strange turn of events, sustainability actually saved their company from a business angle.


They were doing well in the fashion side, but then when COVID 19 hit, their sales were heavily in the red.


It was only because they had a small section on sustainability that uses more sustainable materials and that was when a B2B client approached them and wanted them to make their corporate apparel because they had the expertise!


Challenges like these are bound to happen on a startup journey.


Keith realised that it's really difficult to create a company that focuses on sustainability because it's not directly related to profits or helping a company become more efficient.


Those things are an easier sell, but sustainability is something that a company has to want to do!



And Keith sees more companies seeing it as a need and they wanted to be at the forefront of that, despite the challenges.


In fact, a lot of the help that they received were from mentors who have done the startup journey before and other startups, in Yale-NUS, focused on social impact and sustainability.


Just by observing them, the team learnt how these startups operate and what kind of vision and mission that they hold close to themselves and what it means to bring value, not just monetary pursuits.


A huge challenge was that, despite the four of them being more trained in certain areas, they've never set up a company or let alone ran one before and there are many seemingly small aspects that can affect the journey that can be easily overlooked (unlike the business side of things) such as emotional management and company culture since the startup team is small.


Johann reflects on how MBF in the past year, they've expanded to more clients, but also expanded to a lot of different products. This year, they ventured beyond corporate apparel and added lots of other cool things like recycled polyester bags, wheat made cutlery and just so many other things!



Next year, they're definitely looking to continue to expand their catalog of goods for more companies.


He likes the laptop recycled bag idea as every corporate can easily change to be more sustainable just by going through them. Their mission is to help corporates to move to a more sustainable alternative, if he can convince them to move from what is traditionally used, polyester, to something like recycled bamboo. They see that as a win!



Check out their catalogue here!



Also, Keith mentioned how he made an Interseed account for himself and he started exploring Interseed and he was interested in being able to connect with different founders, and different community people.


It was something that Johann and Keith were also talking about, such as finding people who would be passionate about working with them, finding actually passionate people in sustainability, not just because they have skills in marketing.


Keith feels like he can see someone's passion through social media and it really speaks differently. Those are the kinds of people that he really likes to connect.


Network with amazing ecosystem players like Keith Wo, who also recently embarked on a journey as Governance & Risk (Sustainability Services) for KPMG Singapore, on our sustainability platform! (Congrats Keith!)

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