The purpose of a company
“What is the purpose of your company?” is probably one of the most frequently asked questions in the business circles today. Often posed by a hard-nosed investor, it’s a way to gauge the ESG credentials of potential investment targets.
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing has been one of the most important trends in the asset management industry over the past decade. Since the global adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) two years ago, ESG investment grew by an impressive 34%. As many as 66% of consumers consider a brand’s sustainability credentials before making a purchase.
The thinking that the purpose of a company is to create shareholder wealth is woefully outdated. Today businesses are expected to generate value for the whole society. And we at Pizza 4P’s couldn't agree more. With a mission to “Make the World Smile for Peace”, altruistic values are at the heart of what we do.
School of sustainability
From the launch of our first restaurant in Saigon in 2011, Pizza 4P’s has since grown into a mini-empire with 20 locations in Saigon, Hanoi and Danang. We have also branched out into cheese-making and are now producing burrata and mozzarella in Dalat, as well as finding an organic vegetable farm – all three enterprises basking in glowing reviews.
Last year, Pizza 4P’s opened an experience-based restaurant centered on “edutainment” (a concept mixing entertainment and education) in Saigon’s District 2. A greenhouse-like building creates a “day out in the field” experience thanks to its vegetable garden and a pond surrounded by trees. The team designed the space to be an educational center where guests can learn about sustainability.
While the concepts of “sustainability” and “edutainment” might sound lofty to some, the idea behind them is quite simple: fueling a hunger for knowledge as well as teaching by adding an element of entertainment. With our restaurants, Pizza 4P’s hopes to create value for our patrons, society at large and the environment.
When designing the District 2 location, we tapped into our sustainable know-how to set up an aquaponics farm – an earth-friendly farming method known as cyclical agriculture.
Food waste from the restaurant is turned into fertilizer for the vegetable garden through composting by worms and soil organisms. Earthworms are then fed to the fish in the pond and fish excrements, post-filtration, are used as nutrients for the vegetable garden. Vegetables grown this way are considered zero-waste (with an added bonus of reducing Pizza 4P’s carbon footprint), while guests become part of the green chain just by the virtue of dining.
No kidding around
Kids are naturally curious and very responsive to new experiences, so family-friendly Pizza 4P’s Xuan Thuy was designed with these attributes in mind. The garden and the fish pond tend to be popular with kids of all ages, while pizza-making classes for children occasionally attract adult audiences too. We wanted to instill in our young customers, especially those living in urban centers, an appreciation of the planet they call home and the role they will play as its keepers.
Society is based on the acceptance of universal values and fostering these values in the next generation is what drives Pizza 4P’s.
Growth through increased awareness
While Pizza 4P’s successfully created a business model that rests on the SDG pillars, many entrepreneurs struggle with the adoption of sustainable goals and restructuring their businesses. Or even finding a good reason for doing so. What they fail to realize is that the future is with ESG-driven products, so not to miss the boat, they need to make the investment in that future now.
“For us, it’s not only large-scale projects that matter. We take every little detail into consideration: from replacing plastic delivery bags with compostable ones to reusing yogurt and pudding glass jars”, explains Pizza 4P’s founder Yosuke Masuko.
“And cost-saving doesn’t always come as a priority. Making an impact does. For example, it cost us nearly double in terms of money and time to replace plastic straws with the stainless steel and grass ones, but the feedback from the staff and the clients was very positive and was well worth the investment.”
In Vietnam, and globally, oceanic pollution is a severe problem. “The staff were aware of the severity of the situation but sustainability wasn’t a concept they were familiar with,” explains Yosuke. It was the removal of plastic straws from the operation that provided a nudge. “They could now clearly see a link between their actions and cleaner beaches in their country. They suddenly became very committed to separating waste and reducing food waste.”
This sense of purpose among the staff resulting from the company’s sustainability efforts leads to better service, which, in turn, benefits the stakeholders and contributes to the growth of the business.
Solving social challenges
“Leaving no one behind” is a slogan the world leaders have adopted alongside the goal of making sustainability the cornerstone of businesses worldwide: a pledge to work for inclusive societies and economies that leave no one behind. So how does Pizza 4P’s vision to “Make the World Smile for Peace” tie back to this ambitious goal?
Our ultimate goal is helping customers achieve the inner peace. Everything that Pizza 4P’s is doing today is but a step in a long journey. To achieve happiness, we must start from within. Finding inner balance enables us to spread positivity around, thus helping others find their Zen. At Pizza 4P’s we believe that meaningful social change can only be achieved once we, as a society, are truly satisfied with our lives.
So if you look at the experience of enjoying and sharing food through the prism of this belief system, you’ll realize that for us it's a way to inspire the exchange of positive energies, of putting smiles on people’s faces. We always look deep, peer beyond the obvious. Why does this business exist? What is its purpose? We constantly ask ourselves these questions and reflect on how our business model can most benefit the common good.