This article by Mardi Brown, the co-founder of PonyUp for Good demonstrates what is possible when technology reuse is combined with social objectives to deliver positive outcomes for people and planet. Read more …


Social Procurement … or the practice of leveraging our organisations everyday spend and resources to effect positive change for our communities and environment, has been a somewhat mystical hot pink unicorn in Australia until recently.

Like the saying goes, ‘nothing is new.’ However, with formal frameworks now in place, or at least in the headlights of the Commonwealth and most State Governments, this mythical creature is now a very real, multi trick pony for Governments and corporate Australia – and if we shake it with both hands, it’ll give back in more ways than we ever dreamt possible.

So far, most of the global outcomes for social procurement have been in leveraging existing funds to deliver value and achieve broader objectives in the areas of disadvantaged employment placement and social inclusion, without requiring any additional funding. But there are more and more evolutionary ideas coming to market, which are giving greater flexibility and options for businesses and their teams to contribute beyond themselves.

In its 2017 Cone Communications CSR study, Cone found 78% of consumers want companies to address important social and community issues. With 87% saying, they would purchase products or services from companies who advocated for an issue they care about, over those who did not.

It’s a brand strategy, which not only improves reputation and employee engagement – but by default, carves out a legacy by just making some minor tweaks to your business as usual. Now is the time to start growing your business and street cred, by engaging with social enterprises.

Let’s break down the laundry list of benefits and social value you can leverage, using just your businesses decommissioned technology:

In October 2016, my business partner and I decided to let a new creative (and somewhat quirky) idea run loose from the stable, into a relatively dry industry.

We gathered up our years of business experience, corporate communications and some entrepreneurial spirit – and launched ‘PonyUp for Good’ – A social enterprise, taking businesses donated, decommissioned technology, redirecting it from landfill.  Its data erased to Department of Defence standards and remarketed – We then donate 50% of profits to SecondBite, Australia’s largest fresh food rescue charity, who feed over 75,000 people a day across the country.

It was a left of field idea, with a ‘double win’ in its ability to reuse valuable resources, which would have otherwise gone to landfill, creating a myriad of significant environmental issues in their wake.

In return, clients receive valuable metrics and reporting on:

  • Kilo’s of technology diverted from landfill
  • ‘Reuse versus recycling’ percentages
  • How many fresh meals each collection has contributed

Since launching we have redirected over 130,000KG of technology from landfill via reuse and recycling – and donated well over 250,000 fresh meals in collaboration with our clients, including, Australia Post, Telstra, Red Energy, Service Stream & AHPRA.

Stats aside though…the value and scope of a Social Procurement strategy is SO much bigger than this.  And if we’re honest, it’s bigger than we ever imagined when we first let this concept out of the gate…The best bit is – everyone wins…

VALUE – Social, Environment & Brand Legacy

Social value:

Every year in Australia we send over 8 billion dollars of fresh food to landfill, while over 2 million people across the country go hungry every day.

  • Our vision is to rescue 1 million kilos of technology and use its residual value, to provide 1 million meals via SecondBite by the end of 2020.
  • Last year in collaboration with Australia Post, we turned 26,957 kilos of decommissioned technology into 45,733 meals
  • SecondBite distributes fresh food to over 1200 food relief agencies across the country every day, who make in excess of 75,000 meals for families and individuals on the front of line of poverty across the country
  • Last year SecondBite saved these same community organisations more than $30 Million in food costs, enabling more funds for other essential services, including emergency accommodation, employment, medical, education and social inclusion programs.

Environmental value:

Australia contributes to the 44+ million tonnes of e-waste going into the world’s landfills every year, leaching toxic chemicals into our soil and waterways.

  • We lock into our clients sustainability and waste reduction targets, reporting back on how many kilos of technology you have diverted from landfill and can now calculate the C02 emission reductions of the reuse and recycling of your retired technology
  • We recently diverted over 18,000 kilos of retired IT from landfill, from one of Red Energy’s relocation projects – GiddyUp!

Brand legacy:

Consumers want your community and environmental messages built into their brand experience in a surround-sound kind of way. Creating a legacy can now be part of your business as usual…

  • Start with the end in mind, when you communicate what you want your companies legacy to be – This has the ability to inspire the right people to come and work for you. – Deloittes 2017 Millennial Survey, found ‘76% of people, said they regard business as a force for positive social impact.’
  • These are crucial brand and engagement stories everyone can get behind. Share these wins with your team, customers, stakeholders and investors.
  • Social movements inside your organisation such as this, have a strong trickle down effect in employee satisfaction, pride, retention, volunteer initiatives, word of mouth and loyalty.

Reviewing your supply chain to partner with social enterprise, is an easy win for your CSR and environmental objectives. The social value in your decommissioned technology alone is just one loud example of how we can all do better…easily…and come out winning.

In a world where consumers are demanding more from our brands and rewarding those who deliver social outcomes – Now is the time to grab that mystical beast by the horn – GiddyUp!  

90 Second Video – Link:

About Mardi Brown
Mardi is motivated by a need to drive meaningful change in business. You will often hear her asking, ‘for what purpose are we doing this?’ Mardi is a trained Behavioural Specialist and has worked as Head of People & Culture with TEDxMelbourne, and in her own consultancy has helped businesses develop.