Hailing from the small town of Pusing in Perak, Sunway Bhd founder and chairman Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah witnessed first-hand how poverty closes off avenues for advancements.

Believing that education offers the best route out of poverty, he started Jeffrey Cheah Foundation (JCF), Malaysia’s largest education-focused social enterprise that is valued at over RM1 billion. Last year, the foundation gave out more than RM330 million in scholarships to deserving students and endowed US$10 million to the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network to establish the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development at Sunway University. It also awarded 31 sports scholarships to develop more world-class athletes.

Moving forward, Sunway is spending RM600,000 to reach out to 1,000 urban poor schoolchildren in Penang, Ipoh, the Klang Valley and Johor, providing them with basic necessities, including school uniforms, shoes and bags. Cheah also set in motion plans to make Sunway-owned buildings in Sunway City 100% smoke-free by the end of the year.

That’s not all. In its 2017 sustainability report, Sunway says sustainable development, including socioeconomic goals, has been an integral part of its business framework for over four decades now and it continues to align its business model, operating strategies and corporate culture with sustainable practices and solutions. This is in line with its commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) agenda.

“Technology is being integrated even more deeply to establish Sunway City as a model ‘smart sustainable city’ of the 21st century. We have implemented a whole range of energy-saving and efficiency measures in the city. We also built a combined generation plant for it. Generating electricity from natural gas further reduces our carbon footprint. In 2017, we also completed the construction of our own water treatment plant. The first of its kind in Malaysia, the plant purifies water from a local urban lake to meet potable water standards set by the Ministry of Health. I look forward to sharing with you our progress on the Sunway Smart Sustainability City project in the next sustainability report,” Cheah said in the report.

Its flagship Sunway City, which attracts 42 million visitors annually, was a barren 800-acre mining land. The group’s diverse businesses allow it to work with suppliers to create a positive impact on social and environmental protection beyond its business by selecting only partners who meet standards on ethical conduct, human rights and workplace and environmental management.

Among other things, its Zero Food Wastage project, which was started in May last year by Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa and the Kechara Soup Kitchen Society, has seen 7,179.3kg of food collected and distributed to 28,717 people in the surrounding communities as at Dec 31, 2017. This surplus “consists of cooked food that has been placed in the warmer but not served at the buffet line”, the report read, adding that more Sunway hotels would be roped in.

“These measured outcomes and articulated goals show the group is living out #SUNWAYFORGOOD for the economy, environment, society, our people, safeguarding human rights and operations.”