March 2

With AI learning and recycled soap, social businesses step in as coronavirus spreads

HONG KONG/KUALA LUMPUR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Handing out soap to street cleaners in Hong Kong might sound like piecemeal work in the battle against coronavirus.

But with schools and offices shut in the Chinese-ruled city and across Asia, social enterprises – businesses that seek to do good while making a profit – are rushing to tackle problems from a shortage of face masks to distance learning.

Among them is Soap Cycling, which distributes soap salvaged from Hong Kong hotels to street cleaners to try and maintain public hygiene and stop the virus spreading.

“During a crisis like the coronavirus situation, people who are already struggling are hit hardest first,” Justen Li, chairman of the enterprise set up in 2012, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

The virus has killed more than 2,700 people and is spreading faster outside China than within, hitting major industries from manufacturing to travel.


Photo credit: Kate Fogelberg

Source: Reuters (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
social enterprise