The year 2020 will be remembered for the turbulence caused when a pandemic swept through the world, fundamentally changing people’s way of life, presenting unprecedented challenges to governments worldwide, and forcing businesses to reflect and adapt in order to survive. With this in mind, the Asia Business Council and the Tanoto Center for Asian Family Business and Entrepreneurship Studies at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) embarked on a six-month research project to analyze how Asia Business Council member companies have responded to the pandemic in strategic, innovative, or impactful ways.

Hong Kong-based textile company Esquel Group reaffirmed its commitment to sustainability by developing a reusable mask even as it was hit hard by the unfolding pandemic and escalating U.S.-China tensions. While initially made for donations, especially in the communities where it had operations, the product soon became a business as well, demonstrating that social responsibility can go hand in hand with opportunity.

The desire to protect the environment is one that runs deep in the family-owned business, and the company has potentially saved 1.3 billion single-use masks from disposal. Esquel’s achievements are due to a convergence of innovation, a focus on wellness, and an ethos of carving out new opportunities while serving the community.