For more than 80 years, family-run fruit distribution company SJ Low Bros & Co Pte Ltd has been giving back to society, building on a legacy started by its founder.
Like many Chinese immigrants to Singapore, the late Mr SJ Low grew up poor, and had to learn to adapt to a new life and rely on his resourcefulness to eke out a living in a new country.
At a young age, he became the sole breadwinner for his family and ran a business selling soursop that was grown in his backyard. Life was tough and he told himself that if he was to become successful one day, he would find a way to give back.
In 1934, he started SJ Low Bros & Co Pte Ltd, which today is a third-generation family business that has expanded to include market research and brand development for F&B and consumer goods in its portfolio.
Mr Low did not forget his promise. His business values advocate contributing to society, as opposed to just making profits. He never turned away anyone in need, and even helped communities in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka where he did business.
His grandson, Mr Low Zhennan, is now the company’s deputy managing director, and he is determined not just to continue his grandfather’s legacy of giving, but also to build on it and institutionalise giving within the company.
He says: “From a business perspective, the corporate giving activities we do annually brings our team closer together and gives more meaning and purpose to our work. From a values point of view, giving back feels like our social responsibility so it’s not a question of choosing to give, we are supposed to.”
The company’s giving journey started with annual corporate giving activities with different charities such as Run & Raisin’ with TOUCH Community Services. In an effort to expand their reach, SJ Low Bros & Co Pte Ltd, who is a Company of Good member, began collaborating with other companies. For instance, in 2015, together with a speech therapy company, the company took children and their families from Starpals (Paediatric Advance Life Support) to a trampoline park for a family day.
Mr Low’s involvement the Company of Good has introduced him to a corporate giving approach that encourages more purposeful and strategic giving, inspiring him to think about new ways so that his company can give better and more holistically.