The original concept of Buy1GIVE1 materialised through the running of a food production company owned by Masami (a health food chef by profession) and her business partner David Anttony. The sincere vision of this company was to give back to the global community, reverberating through the simple statement “buy a meal and feed a child”. However, this notion of giving back became such a focus for Masami and David that they decided to launch a business specifically designed to do just that. After close scrutiny of the logistics, Masami and David realised they could not contribute on the scale they desired by themselves.
It was then that they came up with the idea of ‘transaction-based giving’. Masami says, “With transaction based giving, you can give straight away and it is not about how large or small the contribution, or when.” Masami believes companies around the world can get involved and the concept should not be confined to any one sector. “We were a food business, but other organisations in finance or clothing, for example, can give back to the community,” she says.
In September 2007, Buy1GIVE1 (or B1G1) was launched in Australia, before relocating to Singapore, with high hopes of launching a global impact. Just over a year after the company’s birth, Masami revels in the participation of nearly 200 small to medium sized businesses, as well as countless global members. However, Masami is still looking to expand the concept even further. “This year I want to include large corporations so they can influence business owners to start giving. Our project Buy1GIVE1 comes from that sense of gratitude for everything. Rather than judging what we see as problems, we can turn every challenge into an opportunity to be grateful and make a difference. I want to spread this message in a much bigger way,” she says.
While many of us give to charities and help others when we can, not many can say they have created a global business to really put the generous wheels in motion. When asked about her inspiration to take matters into her own hands, Masami considers the answer to be quite simple. “The more we are giving, the more our quality of life improves,” she says.
Masami claims the transaction based giving does not stem from guilt based giving, but that it is important to feel grateful for the enjoyment of the positive things in our lives.
“There were moments when I wasn’t happy and content with my own life. I was judging external things and judging myself. Yet the more I focused on trying to give, the happier and freer I felt.”
Masami is adamant the B1G1 concept is not just about making donations and giving to solve the problems of the world. “It is actually about encouraging everybody to do those little actions of expressing the gratitude so that the quality of our lives and others improve. When we take that initial action, for whatever reason, it gives us insight to transform. Giving to others is just the same as giving to ourselves and it is really lovely to see that transformation of feelings as the giving process begins,” she says.