In general, eco-entrepreneurship has often been lumped together with “social entrepreneurship” or “conscious entrepreneurship”, but it is gradually emerging in its own right. As the term suggests, an eco-entrepreneur is also market-oriented and has ambitious goals for profit, growth and productivity, because as their business grows, so does the positive impact on community, livelihoods and global environmental conditions.
Traditionally, green organic products and services have been small in volume and therefore impact, but many established companies are rethinking their attention to the environment, not just because it’s the ‘right thing to do’, but because it makes savvy business sense to do so also.
Business interests and the planet have long been portrayed as having conflicts of interests and existing on opposing sides. However, there are steps being taken now beyond merely a traditional sustainability department or corporate social responsibility strategy where environmental innovation has often been limited to simple environmental cost savings. Although such environmental measures may succeed in reducing the negative impact of operations, the overall impact on the environment has been removed or disconnected from the fundamental missions of these companies.
However, we are living in volatile times and it is becoming clearer that the most successful future businesses going forward will be those who innovate beyond status quo, business-as-usual approaches simply because ‘business-as-usual’ no longer exists. Growing environmental awareness and worldwide, exponential environmental collapse demand new approaches to not only mitigate risk, but to remain relevant. Those companies and ventures that understand the intrinsic relationship to the planet, its accelerating environmental risks and the need to restore and regenerate the planet’s systems are those that stand to benefit the most.
As necessary ecopreneurs now, they are creating corresponding market opportunities by virtue of working with the planet as a major stakeholder and partner itself in the decision-making process for multidimensional, longterm stability, impact and competitive advantage. In so doing, their efforts lead to improved financial performance, financial stability in keeping costs down, increasing revenue streams, and maintaining good relationships with suppliers and communities.
Flipping the script is necessary for overall survival now and ecopreneurship is set to become the new normal by rethinking relationships, communities, suppliers, learning, education, capacity building and the advancement of business and technical skills through the lens of putting the health of the planet at the forefront of all activities, to ensure multifactorial success.
As part of the current rise, many of these ecopreneurs are said to be running their business in ways contrary to popular notions of entrepreneurial behaviour. In fact, many are happy to advertise their alternatives to the current opportunities through their own advertisements, promotional materials and websites. They develop their pedigree outside the mainstream of business.
One such venture is award-winning Shop Pom Pom that has proudly ditched plastic with its 100% plastic-free toys. Another is Godfreys Ear, operated by eco-entrepreneur Caroline Cullingham, whereby upcycled and restyled good quality and serviceable furniture, stops it from being destroyed and taken to landfill.
The founderof Pachama, Diego Saez-Gil, raises millions as part of a mission to restore natural ecosystems in South America and elsewhere that have been lost due to deforestation. Pachama is the first carbon offset platform that uses AI and satellite data to verify and monitor carbon sequestration by forests, and through the process of providing businesses the means by which to purchase data-verified forest carbon credits, Pachama then directs the funds for use in global conservation and reforestation projects (23 in the Western hemisphere, including 3 in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and Peru). It’s a winning combination of both business and positive impact for ecosystems, community groups and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
The United Nations has declared 2021-2030 as the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. It will be a powerful mechanism to stimulate interaction and action and create a large, global, interdisciplinary movement to renew, rebuild and regenerate the planet.
Companies that will thrive in the coming decades are the earth-aware companies and those that more accurately read growing, conscious consumer demand. These ecopreneurial companies will treat the planet as an active participant, not only on a philosophical level of respect for the environment but also on a corporate level as a valued partner with the most to say, teach and guide.
Overall, becoming an ecopreneur is worth it at numerous levels simultaneously if you have a passion for the planet and want to use your business skills for meaningful purposes and to stay (or become) relevant in our current context.
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