Biji-Biji sales soar after capacity increase & pivot to B2C biz model

Malaysian social entreprise Biji-Biji Initiative is looking to expand internationally by end-2015.

Malaysian social enterprise Biji-Biji Initiative has hit the MYR1 million ($262,830) sales mark, since it upped its capacity by 50 per cent in the first half of this year.

The company said that there were two factors underpinning this increase – investment in equipment; pivoting its business model to focus on a more B2C strategy, which the company says, will continue drive the growth in sales and revenue.

Biji-Biji, which bagged the MYR250,000 grand prize at the Alliance Bank SME Innovation Challenge 2014 in November last year, said the cash winnings have been utilised to set up a new website, and to buy a 3D printer for product modeling, sewing machines and a few other workshop tools.

The social enterprise’s core business is creating sustainable design concepts and items using green technology, effective waste management methodology and creative upcycling of discarded materials, its website said.

The products sold on the website include, bags and pencil cases, made with at least 70 per cent recycled materials, sourced mostly in Malaysia.

Aside from upcycled products, Biji-Biji also runs workshops and events related to waste management and green technology.

Co-founder Rashvin Pal Singh told DEALSTREETASIA that the social enterprise wants to capitalise on consumables going forward.

“We are still working (on the website), fine-tuning it to suit our needs. We have also bought more tools and machinery such as a 3D printer for clients to see what we are creating for them, and a few sewing machines to amp up production,” the former PricewaterhouseCooper employee said.

The business’s capacity, which has grown by 50 per cent, has pushed sales and revenue up in tandem.

Biji-Biji was initially B2B-focused, with revenue generated from this type of business making 95 per cent of its business sales. The team is striving to balance the percentage to 60 per cent, with B2C businesses making up 40 per cent of the company’s revenue by year-end.

The company is working with four B2B clients at the moment, with a track record of having worked with 20 in the past.

“The B2B strategy is very project-based and that is not always consistent. B2C businesses will be more consistent, as it would be spread out through the year,” Singh said, adding that 20 per cent of the company’s revenue is now from B2C sales.

By the end of 2015, Biji-Biji intends to break into the international market, by entering Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

“We are looking at Australia and New Zealand because of affordability and that these markets are mature in the waste management space. Later on, we want to expand into Europe and more parts of Southeast Asia,” he said, adding that it would be easier to penetrate the overseas market with B2C offering.

As for fundraising to bolster its expansion, Singh said the funds Biji-Biji attained through the SME Innovation Challenge was adequate for its foreseeable plans.

“The funds adequately meet our capital needs.We want to invest that wisely and grow organically for the next two years, at least until the end of 2016,” he said, noting that the business is continuing to refine its business model and ways to increase margins.

Biji-Biji will likely look to raise funds in 2018, Rashvin added, noting that the 14-people team wants to “get it right” before taking on more investments.

On whether generating income was an important facet of the social enterprise’s existence, Singh said that Biji-Biji was a business rooted in its social cause.

The company was established in 2012 by co-founders Rashvin, Zoe Victoria, Azam Hisham and Gurpreet Singh Dhillon.

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