ESG - Environmental Social Governance

Pioneering social enterprise in Taiwan with KLINGER Die Erste

Aaron Tseng has found his mission: He collaborates with the Association of Sustainable Social Enterprise of Taiwan (ASSET) to drive social innovation.

Charitable donation has always been a part of Aaron Tseng’s life. For many years, the Managing Director of KLINGER Die Erste faithfully set aside a part of his income for causes near to his heart. In 2015, several events led him to rethink his approach to philanthropy. First, a high school classmate experienced the devastating loss of a child, in a public incident that involved a mentally ill stranger. Soon after, Aaron enrolled in an Executive MBA (EMBA) class, where his professor and classmates had a rigorous discussion about corporate social duty. As owners and managers of small- and medium-sized firms, Aaron and his cohorts felt a need to use their skills to improve their communities. This notion of "doing good via what you’re good at” has reshaped his world view.

“I should do something to contribute to society instead of just donating. The social contribution that allows me to maximize my benefits should be related to my business operations.”

Aaron Tseng is Managing Director of KLINGER Die Erste, a Taiwanese Joint Venture.

Empowering tomorrow's leaders

With the Association of Sustainable Social Enterprise of Taiwan (ASSET), Aaron is now aiding Taiwan’s national effort to promote social enterprise (SE). This business model was developed in the UK in the late 1970s, as a way for private organizations to focus on social problems while operating with financial autonomy. Though the term is not widely known, groups such as credit unions, housing co-ops, and community centers often operate as social enterprises.

ASSET holds SE competitions each year to select teams whose proposals have market potential, a charitable spin on a practice made famous by entrepreneurial reality shows. Aaron describes the process: “We have ten people judge these proposals in one whole day. We discuss the proposals, ask them to give us a presentation, then we give them a score.” In addition to receiving financial and business education, the winning ASSET team can also use the contacts of EMBA groups in the city for networking and resource opportunities.

Today’s youth is channeling a great deal of social consciousness.

The current project is an Accounting and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) seed program. Accounting majors receive a monthly subsidy and gain work experience at an international firm during their studies. Firms provide seed money and foster new hires, the school gains real world experience in its curriculum, and students are matched with a firm after the program ends. Graduating with prior experience as an entry level hire gives students a huge advantage, and has already attracted the attention of major firms like KPMG and PwC. As Aaron points out, this all came to be due to his group’s business contacts: “It’s because we have the resources. We have a connection with the school, we have a connection with the accounting firm, so we can make it possible.”

Contacts mentioned in the article:

Aron Tseng, Managing Director of KLINGER Die Erste

From environmental endeavors to digital domains

Previous project bids have been quite varied from year to year, which Aaron credits to the social consciousness of today’s youth. “I like to see what the young people think, what is the trend. Each year, the proposal of the majority is very different,” he says. For several years, the teams were all focused on environmental causes: one winner was an enzyme dish cleaning product made from citrus waste produced by a juicing factory. Aaron’s board was able to connect this team with Taiwan's largest chain juice company, creating value across multiple industries. Another winner was a restaurant that used only “ugly” fruits and vegetables, which did not pass muster to be sold in stores. Customers were able to pay for the meal with labor, barter, or free pricing of their choice.

Post Covid, teams have begun to focus more on remote solutions, like e-commerce and off-site learning. As the current seed program wraps up and word spreads about its success, Aaron will continue to also spread word of the ASSET program, hoping to instill a sense of social duty in his peers: “It's good to show what we are doing besides earning money, what we can give back to our society.”

Fostering youth entrepeneurship is a common goal of KLINGER Die Erste and the Association of Sustainable Social Enterprise of Taiwan.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What is the Association of Sustainable Social Enterprise of Taiwan (ASSET)?

The Association of Sustainable Social Enterprise of Taiwan (ASSET) is an organization dedicated to promoting the social enterprise (SE) model in Taiwan. This business model allows private organizations to address social problems while maintaining financial autonomy.

How do the social enterprise competitions organized by ASSET function?

ASSET holds annual competitions to identify teams with promising SE proposals. These competitions involve a panel of ten judges who review submitted proposals. Selected teams present their ideas, after which they are scored. The winning team receives both financial and business education support and can leverage the contacts of EMBA groups in the city for networking and resource opportunities.

Fact box

Did you know ...

  • ... that in addition to regular school, many Taiwanese students attend after-school tutoring sessions or cram schools, known as "buxiban" (補習班)? These institutions are an integral part of the education system and are designed to provide additional coaching to help students excel in their academic subjects, especially in preparation for the highly competitive university entrance examinations.
  • ... that since the formation of the Joint Venture in 2021, KLINGER Die Erste has expanded its valve range through a fully integrated manufacturing process, providing customized product packages for key industries such as pulp & paper, steel, energy, marine, chemical, oil & gas?
  • ... that Die Erste was founded in 1982 as a family run business? Die Erste has collaborated with KLINGER for 25 years and, boasting over 5,000 valve and accessory products in its catalog, has established a reputation for excellence in sourcing, manufacturing, and distribution.
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