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Nov 07, 2018

Helping entrepreneurs embed sustainability into their businesses 

When discussing corporate sustainability, the focus is often on larger and already well-established corporations. Thus for startups, the idea of incorporating a sustainability strategy into their business model might appear to be an additional cost that outweighs the benefits. However, this is a misconception; sustainable business practices can actually reduce operating costs and make an SME more attractive to investors. 

As current trends continue to show the importance of sustainability as an essential component of successful businesses- regardless of business size- the Sustainability Initiative found it prudent to host a training on sustainability for its clients. 

Using the SDGs as a business framework 

Although the entrepreneurs already have an eye for environmental issues- given that they are all fighting climate change in one way or another-, there was still an opportunity for them to learn. 

For instance, part of the training emphasized incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into supply chain analysis. As the 17 SDGs incorporate social and economic issues as well as environmental ones, it was a way for the clients to realize a broader understanding of sustainability when analyzing their business models.  

In addition, the KCIC staff trained clients on the other sustainability tools to improve their businesses: material flow analysis, energy flow analysis, the sustainability business model canvas, and stakeholder analysis. 

Theoretical and practical training on sustainability

The training consisted of a theoretical and a practical part. In the theoretical part, the concept of sustainability and its relevance for the clients was explained. In the second part of the training, the clients were divided into three groups in which they applied one of the sustainability tools to assess and improve their own product, process, or enterprise. At the end, each group shared their insights and learnings to everyone via a short pitch.

Ultimate, the purpose of the training was to teach clients:

  1. The basics of sustainability and provide a deeper understanding of the SDGs
  2. Why sustainability is needed in their business practices
  3. How sustainability can be imbedded in their businesses
  4. To identify problems and improvement points in their businesses
  5. What tools there are available to assess their business operations
  6. How they can enhance their access to information

A need for more sustainability trainings for SMEs 

In the future, the KCIC Sustainability team hopes to host more such trainings that can be more in-depth. Overall, this informative training helped clients learn about sustainability and how it relates to their business practices. By providing them with a variety of tools to assess their operations, the clients were able to analyze and improve their business on various aspects. 

 

By Alise Brillault 

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