SDG Pioneer for Small-to-Medium Enterprises

Veerappan Swaminathan

CEO, Sustainable Living Lab Pte Ltd


Asia- Oceania

Embracing the superhero within: Becoming an SDG Pioneer is like becoming a sustainability superhero, fighting to make our world greener and fairer. What's your special power for this mission?

My unique strength lies in my capability to motivate diverse sectors in Singapore and the surrounding region to view the Sustainable Development Goals as growth opportunities rather than compliance tasks.

 Origin story: Please briefly describe your journey towards becoming an SDG Pioneer.

In 2006, I began my journey with corporate sustainability and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by initiating a solar fruit-drying project in rural Maharashtra, India. Eager to apply my engineering education to Asia's sustainability challenges, I embarked on various developmental projects. Post-graduation, I founded my current business, offering sustainability consulting and innovation services, which I've been running for 12 years.

Turning passion into purpose: Your SDG Pioneer recognition shines a spotlight on your incredible work. Please explain the work for which you are being recognized as an SDG Pioneer and how your interest in this field developed.

Being a small business owner, I deeply understand the aspirations and challenges of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). While many perceive SMEs as resource-deficient, I believe they have a significant edge in championing the SDGs due to their agility and alignment with their founders' values—qualities that larger corporations might struggle with.

 Every epic tale has its share of challenges: Please share some challenges and battles you've encountered while pursuing your SDG ambitions. 

One significant challenge I experienced was launching the e-waste program, Repair Kopitiam, amidst fluctuating external grants. Despite these financial challenges, we maintained internal funding for the program even through Covid-19. Once implemented, we even made Repair Kopitiam Singapore's largest repair initiative.

Accomplishments: As part of your SDG journey, what stands out as the most rewarding? Please describe a moment that made you feel like you were unlocking a new level of impact.

A defining moment was my collaboration with Japanese firms via the SDG Corporate Innovation Lab, fostering investments in eco-friendly business models. Additionally, representing Singapore at the 2018 UN High-Level Political Forum and contributing to the Resource Sustainability Act 2019 were significant milestones.

Next chapters: What’s next in your career and journey? Please give us a sneak peek!

I'm really excited about the Sustainability Action Platform, Spryx, which is being rolled out to Singapore-based SMEs. I'm also establishing a Venture Builder Fund to develop companies that can effectively tackle significant climate issues by introducing adaptation solutions to the market.

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